I swear to god I cry every time I see the film ‘The Blind Side’. I love the whole connection wherein Sandra Bullock protects a hard-on-his-luck kid whose own protective instincts have him protecting her. It was the best of the human condition on display in so many ways. As you likely know, the kid, Michael Oher, now plays offensive tackle in the NFL. His primary job is to protect the quarterback’s blind side so that the quarterback can focus on throwing the ball.
I have friends and family that protect my blind side. They watch out for my best interests, give me advice that they think will help be become a better person or help me avoid potential pratfalls. This is how it should be.
On the flipside, there are those ‘face’ friends and family that love to get involved with my life and give advice that I do not want watching my blindside. ‘Face’ friends and family, of course, are those that are cool to your face but pass judgments and talk trash behind your back. I know you know some of these people.
You’ve had friends tell you how much they care about you right before telling you how much of a mistake you were making by getting a divorce from a cheating husband. “Baby doll, I’m really just concerned about you and how you’ll take care of Emma on a single mother’s salary.” Do they truly have your sixes or are they blind to how the cheating has ripped apart your confidence and sense of self-worth?
You’ve had family members ‘just watching out for the fams’ and telling you all of the things they heard about the new person you are dating, not disclosing that the insight came from the best friend of a former scorned lover. But they’re just protecting you, right?
Lastly, there are people that have good intentions but poor execution. They cannot help but want to help even though they have very little history or knowledge of what you are going through. Worse yet, they don’t know how to read the ‘no unsolicited advice’ sign that is all over your face.
It can be incredibly frustrating to deal with people like this, especially when you feel as though you have to keep them in your life in some capacity. That said, I do think it’s important to be able to distinguish and put a label on the types of ‘help’ people choose to provide to us. I put it into two different categories: Interference and Support.
People who interfere:
Call it helping you but really get involved to prop themselves up
Have little to no context with regards to the advice or thoughts they give you
Get annoyed or just can’t read the signs if you really just want space or time alone to think
Practice the ‘Talk, Drop and Roll’ method. As in, they are happy to give you thoughts and advice but will tuck tail and run the second you’re asking questions that would seem to counter it or challenge it, even if you’re just seeking to understand.
Them: “Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Talk to me when you’re not mad at me for just trying to help.”
Translation: “I just lit a fire but don’t blame me or expect me to have any accountability for the heat and smoke it created.”
People who support:
Have no hidden agenda to feed their own ego or insecurities. The help is really about you
Give thoughtful advice and thoughts that are based on your experiences and who you are as a person
Do not mind at all if you’re just looking for space or time alone to think
Understand if you’re taking the advice or thoughts hard and will stick it out with you as you go through it. They don’t run just because you challenge or seek to understand their words.
Where do your friends and family fit? Are they supporters or interferer’s? The sooner you can put a label on it, the sooner you can move into the next step, dealing with them. That will be the part 2 to this discussion. Until next time.