A soft place to fall

I’ve been a fan of Dr Phil for a long time….like since he was on Oprah back in the day. 

Along with ‘so how’s that workin’ for ya’, another of his catch phrases is ‘we all need a soft place to fall.’ I always loved that one, the idea of being a soft place to fall for someone else. 

I realized that I misunderstood what being a soft place to fall really looked like for a really long time. 


I used to see it as making someone’s landing softer by fixing their problem for them. For example calling in sick for somesone because he was still drunk and couldn’t make the call themselves. Or doing something for someone else before they have even asked. Or I even paid a utility bill for someone who’s water was cut off and I didn’t tell them I did it. 

But what this did was it prevented the other person from having to deal with the consequences of their actions or lack there of or even letting them figure out when they should ask for help. 

I would often quietly take care of it. Not for the recognition. Not because I wanted to be thanked for doing it. And not even for them, it was really for me. For me to feel like better about being a good person. How selfish and ridiculous is that.  This actually makes me feel awful about all the times I interjected myself under the illusion of being helpful. 

Gosh this isn’t at all where I thought this post was going. I guess it’s a good thing I’m heading to my step study meeting. 

It’s so hard to see when you are being codependent when you are in the middle of doing it. 

My intentions were always from a loving place and I never wanted to harm anyone from growing from an experience. But I know I have. 

We all need a soft place to fall. I see this so different now. It’s not my place to just go fix stuff. Sometimes sitting on my hands is what I need to do, and let things play out. Boundaries help keeps me working my program. I can still be a soft place to fall with boundaries and waiting. 

I need a soft place to fall. I don’t have to do everything myself and am learning when I need to ask for help. 

I’ve got to jump off here and get to my meeting. So until next time…….

My journey to serenity continues…

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6 Comments

  1. This makes me think of two things I have learned recently:

    1) I’m reading, “Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, and she talks about meeting the most compassionate people in her research AND being completely shocked that they were also the people who had the strongest boundaries and were good at saying no. Seemed contradictory to me at first, but I felt there was some truth to it. I shared it with my counselor and he said, “Who is the most compassionate person that ever lived?” Jesus. “Who also said no with conviction and had strong boundaries?” Jesus. Wow. What an eye opener. I don’t know how to do that very well myself, I love to help people, but the second item has helped me get better at it.

    2) Each year I try to find one really good thing to set a goal on and then work towards it throughout the year. I didn’t come up with mine until March. I was at work and our boss had asked us to share our interview questions with each other so we could share the best ones together. I shared mine and one of them is, “What are the last two non-fiction books you’ve read and what did you learn from them?” I had two of my co-workers come up to me later and say, “Wow! I’m glad you didn’t interview me, you would have never hired me.” I immediately tried to make them feel better and I said while laughing, “Oh, I’m sure you would have done fine, don’t worry about it.” When the truth is that they were right. There would be a good chance I wouldn’t have recommended them for hire (holy cow I feel bad even writing this, I really like both of them!). That is a make or break it question for me. I really want to work with people who challenge themselves and want to continually learn and improve and this is a good sign that they do just that (it isn’t the only one and I have several other questions I use as well). In any case, as soon I as I said that I realized I had robbed them of a possible learning opportunity. I immediately knew what my goal for the year would be, “Allow people to feel uncomfortable in order to provide an environment where they might learn something and choose to grow.” Instead of smiling at my “shrug it off” response and walking away never to think of it again, what if I had said, “You can always change that? Have you thought about finding some good books to read that would help you with challenges you face at work?” Or something like that. I’m hardly practiced at that sort of thing and I’m already seeing positive results from my efforts, but the point is, I’m trying to allow people to feel uncomfortable when it’s an opportunity for them to learn something about a situation or themselves in a way that will allow for growth. I won’t take their pain away simply because I’m uncomfortable.

    Yikes that was long!! I hope it was helpful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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