11/06/2014 10:52 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

We Must All be Allowed to Walk Our Own Paths

I believe that this beautiful planet of ours is a very large school, and that each of us has signed up to take different subjects specifically designed for our chosen "degrees" during our lifetimes. Some courses can be easy and some extremely difficult.
What is highly important to note is that no matter how much we desire to make others' lives easier, or feel the need to explain our own choices, we have to understand that each and every individual, including ourselves and our children, has their own path to traverse.
We have to be who we truly are and let others do the same. If we always shelter people, we end up doing their lessons for them so they never have to feel pain. Thus, they are doomed to repeat those lessons until they have been learned. And if we always edit our lives and shove our dreams under the table to please others, we are missing out on experiences we should be having. Sometimes, all we do is hinder the soul's progress, which certainly isn't anyone's intention.
So even though we're just trying to be helpful or "keep the peace," we must recognize that most of the time it's a good idea to simply take a step back and let life happen as it should before deciding to step in...

Assistance or Tough Love?:

Human suffering is very hard to witness. It pulls at our heartstrings to know that another human being is hungry, cold, or in desperate need of basic comfort in any way. It is a beautiful thing to care for others, to be compassionate and give of yourself and your possessions to alleviate the suffering of someone you may not even know. This type of act, this service to humanity, only spreads love and healing throughout the world. This is definitely a positive and glorious display of the innate goodness of the human heart. However, you have to believe in your heart that giving that other human being assistance will create a positive shift in their lives, and that they will pay that kindness forward with love and gratitude...that makes all the difference.
On the other hand, let's say that a friend or relative has gotten into some pretty serious trouble with the law for something they've done. Maybe they've been put in jail and call you to bail them out. Or perhaps someone you know has gambled away their paycheck and needs you to cover their expenses. Maybe your kid hasn't been doing his homework and needs you to make up excuses to the teacher on their behalf. Even though you may want to fix the situations for these people, the question in each of these scenarios is: Would you be doing them a monumental disservice if you did? Bailing people out and covering for them in order to avoid the consequences of their actions is not helping them at all. In fact, it's harmful because the situation will be brought back to them again and again until whatever lesson was supposed to be learned by them has been learned. You deny them the opportunity to use their experiences to change their lives for the better. Yes, it is frustrating; you want to jump in and rescue and protect, but they have to take responsibility for their choices. Sitting with consequences, feeling them, is how we learn. Challenges in life are necessary for transformation; they test us, reshape us, and bring us closer to our authentic selves. This is not true suffering...this is self-inflicted misery.

Knowing or Proving?:

Do you know who and what you are, or do you live your life seeking the approval of others? If you feel yourself needing to prove something, that is a sure sign that you have given your power away. Defending and proving who you are is a waste of emotional energy. In any situation, it is your intention that matters. Accept another's perception of you, even if it is flawed, because they will eventually be shown the truth. If your heart is in the right place, then be proud and know that you are on the right path. Never fear being different from those around you. Never feel the need to please...that is not a place of power. A person's view and way of being is personal. It is based on one's individual perception of reality. Their journey is theirs, just as yours is yours. Everyone has a story and no two are the same.
When you try to defend or prove yourself, it is an ego-driven, self-absorbed type of reaction. Who are you really trying to convince - them or yourself? You can't make people understand you. They are perceiving through their own specific reality. Maybe you don't understand them either. So what? Does it really matter? Why does someone else's opinion matter so much to you? I guarantee that your opinion doesn't matter to them! There are plenty of people in this world who vibrate the same as you do...focus on them and let the others go. Perceptions of reality are just different. Like and love yourself and know that anybody who doesn't "get" you is missing out on a great person.
All that people mostly want is to be validated, but you have to validate yourself first. If you depend on others to validate you, your expectations will never be met, and you will always be disappointed. It is not someone else's job or path to make you feel worthy by giving you their approval. If that is what you require, then you will never be satisfied or happy. Happiness comes from within... It's true. Your happiness is not the responsibility of others...It is yours and yours alone.
Children need validation, and if you didn't receive validation as a child, then unfortunately you've probably carried self-worth issues into adulthood. If so, it is crucial to reach out and get the help you need in order to deal with these issues and feel confident in who you are. You are strong, so don't blame others or make excuses, just own it and take control.

Acceptance or Judgment?:

Some people like being complacent, like the way things are, even if they are miserable. They don't want to change, grow, do what's best for them. You can't do anything about that. You can explain it to them, but you can't understand it for them. They have to want help and be willing to do the work. God helps those who help themselves. All you can really do is send them love and be a positive example. Offer encouragement and support. Listen. Give advice if it is asked for.
No one is a finished product. We are all works in progress at different stages of development. We must accept whatever stage others are in, including ourselves, without judgement. Who are we to say what another soul should be doing or not doing, learning or not learning. Just keep in mind that each of us is doing the best we can at any given moment, which may be way below another person's standards, and may even be self-destructive, but a person will never change until they are ready to live a better life. We must all choose what is right for us in each moment...this is free will. Respect the choices of others even if you don't understand them.

Ultimately, all that each human being can do on this Earth School to positively transform their own lives, the lives of those around them, and the collective as a whole is to, in the words of Gandhi,

Be the change you wish to see in the world.