I recently wrote a post entitled Caring vs. Nagging. This one is a tad different: Caring vs. Meddling. Bad news: I meddled recently. Good news: I learned that a) I am a meddler, b) I need to stop, and c) I am sorry.
I read a great post on this subject at Here’s the How. In my post, I summarize what I learned at Here’s the How and add things I’ve learned from my behavior and reflections.
First, what is meddling? It’s being nosy, getting involved in other people’s business, and inserting yourself into a situation where you were not invited. When you meddle, you think you are helping, and you may do it out of care and love but you are still interfering in another person’s life. Meddling happens most often between people who are close: spouses, parents and children, siblings, and close friends. Because meddling happens often between loved ones, it can be hard to name because people confuse caring with meddling. I know I did. Until I received a negative reaction, it never occurred to me that I was meddling. The thought never entered my mind.
You might ask what’s wrong with meddling. Meddling causes loss of trust, pain, anger, misunderstanding, and insecurity. In a word, it is destructive. Even if it’s not your intention to be destructive, meddling is a destructive force, nevertheless.
When you meddle, although you may care about the person deeply, you are operating in your head instead of the other person’s shoes. All people make bad choices at times, including us. We all have the free will to do that. When you see someone close to you making a bad choice your instincts push you to try to help or save them from that bad choice. But stop! How does it feel when someone meddles in your life? I bet you hate it. I do!
There is a lot of ego in meddling. Inherent is a belief that “I can do this better than them.” We all have this. I’m great at sending out birthday cards to people on time, however, keeping my weight down is hard for me. I want to fix all the people who can’t send cards. I could do it better. But I certainly don’t want all the skinny people helping me keep my weight down! We are all broken. We are all sinners. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Let he who is without faults, cast the first meddle. I don’t want to be the overly eager perfect fairy bouncing around trying to fix the world. I could start with myself and never, ever end, thank you very much!
Where do you draw the line between the loving expression of caring and destructive meddling? Meddling is judging, offering unsolicited advice, and trying to control a situation. Caring is not judgmental, offering advice only when asked, and letting other people be in charge of their own lives.
After discovering that I am indeed a meddler, I wondered why I meddle. Two explanations are that I was raised that way and that is how I was loved.
Next question is how do I stop meddling and start caring? First, I can change what I say. Second, I can just shut up. I have a tendency to add too much value. When it comes to meddling, less is definitely more.
Do you meddle? What was your worst meddling situation?
Have you had someone meddle in your life? Could you tell that the person cared?