1. We don’t really know what is best for someone else. Often a person’s greatest growth comes from struggle and pain. If we fix things for those we love, we rob them of the opportunity to meet life’s difficulties and learn from them.
2. We don’t have control. Trying to fix other’s problems means we focus our energies on people and situations that we have little, if any, control over. We really only have control over our own choices and reactions.
3. They will become dependent. If we are successful in solving our loved one’s problems, we teach them to count on us, instead of themselves. We cripple them with the belief that they can’t do it on their own. They may come back again and again asking for, and then even demanding help.
4. They will resent us. Most adults resent being told how to live their lives. They may rebel, or become passive aggressive to avoid our suggestions, prodding, hints or overt demands.
5. It’s exhausting. Trying to run someone else’s life drains the energy we need to live our own life to the fullest. If we are always scheming and planning and manipulating to get people to do things the way we see fit, there is very little juice left for our own hopes, dreams and ambitions.
6. It makes us mean. The strain of trying to keep everything together for everyone eventually leaks out of us as anger and resentment. We may become reactive and say and do unreasonable things.
7. It takes a toll on our health. Trying to control others is extremely stressful and too much stress negatively affects many aspects of health and well-being.
8. Insomnia. Poor sleep is a common symptom of over-involvement in the lives of others.
9. We attract “users”. Those of us who come to care-taking and controlling naturally often attract people who can spot our soft hearts and ability to solve problems. These folks take advantage of us through manipulation, malingering and feigned helplessness.
10. It undermines equality in relationships. The person in control and the person they are trying to help are not on equal footing in the relationship. This is often a barrier to true intimacy.
Here is an anonymous poem that reminds us to let go…
To let go does not mean to stop
caring. It means I can’t do it for
To let go is not to cut myself
off, it’s the realization I can’t
To let go is not to enable, but
to allow learning from natural
To let go is to admit
which means the outcome
is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to
change or blame another, it’s to
make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to
To let go is not to judge, but
to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the
middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To let go is not to be
protective, it’s to permit another to
To let go is not to criticize or
regulate anyone, but to try to become
what I dream I can be.
To let go is to fear less and to
For help with codependency check out Al-Anon Family Groups or read Melody Beattie’s book, Codependent No More.