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  • michelle m. davis

Be a Lighthouse, Not a Flashlight

Somewhere along the way, I adopted the belief that it was my responsibility to fix whatever was wrong … people, relationships, and situations … all of which were not mine. Perhaps it’s the nurturer in me, or maybe it’s the control freak within. Regardless, whenever we turn into flashlights and hone in on what’s wrong with something outside of ourselves, we’re only meddling, encroaching on problems that are not ours to fix.

Over the years, I’ve stepped into circumstances where I had no business being. Sure, I wanted to help and maybe make life easier for those I love. Yet, in the process of attempting to fix what I deemed to be wrong with others or their situation, I overstepped boundaries and impacted relationships.

When I finally recognized what I’d been doing, I realized that while a part of me had pure intentions, there was another side of the coin regarding this behavior. Sadly, I discovered unconscious agendas often accompanied my goodwill. I wanted to be needed, I wanted to be appreciated, and I wanted to feel good about my actions—all emotional needs based in fear. My desire to help—or fix—another also was often based on an attempt to fill a lack within.

I helicoptered with my kids to make sure they were safe … so I wouldn’t worry. I gave friends unsolicited advice to provide solutions to their issues … and it made me feel valuable. My humanness, as well as my need for love and acceptance are what drove me to interfere … to become a flashlight when no illumination was requested.

Feeling the repercussions of my actions and growing through these experiences have taught me a great deal. Each of us are given our circumstances so we can learn and prosper as we navigate these life’s uncertain waters … it’s not so others can step in and offer unsolicited advice, attempting to fix our dilemmas. It is through these individual journeys—the trials and errors as well as the sudden insights—that we transform into our higher selves. When another person steps in to help or fix what is not theirs (aka hijacks the situation), it only delays our personal evolution, as we will need to wait for another opportunity (most likely disguised as a bigger problem) to learn for ourselves.

But there was another big piece to my aha moment about trying to fix what isn’t mine. What made me think I had the correct answer? Even if what I proposed was “right” for me, it might not be the best option for that individual. Perhaps this was one of my life lessons to learn.

So, how do we shine our light? What can we do to assist others facing challenges or struggles?

“Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking

for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”—ANNE LAMOTT

We do this merely by being our authentic selves—making the best life choices for us, showing up for others, listening, and embodying compassion. If someone asks for advice, feel free to give it. But do so humbly, ask questions, and put yourselves in their shoes before sharing what you think is best for them.

And here’s the funny thing … presenting in this capacity and truly holding space for another is much more rewarding than offering a slew of “Here’s what I’d do in this situation.”

At first, I felt as though I needed to put duct tape over my mouth to remain quiet. However, the more I practice the art of compassion, the easier it is becoming. Does this mean I no longer overstep boundaries? Of course not, I’m human (especially when it comes to our sons.) But I believe I’m using my flashlight less and less.

When we become beacons of light, we project a sense of calm to those searching for peace. Instead of offering solutions, we illuminate the world for others to find their own way.

Light up the world with your beautiful brilliance. Become your best self then watch as those around you turn on their own lights.


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