I just finished reading “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better” by Gary and Joy Lundberg.
Quick Take: I really enjoyed the premise (It’s not my job to solve others' problems), but I should have only read the chapters that applied to me.
Marty & I read this together, but to be honest, I picked this book for myself. The premise of “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better” is that we can’t solve anyone else’s problems. Our job is only to listen, understand and validate. I’m horrible at this. We’ve been married for over 20 years and still jump right to solutions whenever Marty comes to me with a problem.
“I’m frustrated with my co-worker.” / “You should quit.”
“I’m cold.” / “So, put on a sweater.”
“Stupid construction made me late.” / “I guess you should probably leave earlier.”
“I’m feeling very anxious about…” / “Well, you should just…”
So, this book was perfect for me. Although I still stink at it, the biggest lesson for me is that instead of offering a solution, say: “How can I help you? Is there something I can do for you? Is there something you need? Is there something you would like me to do? I would like to be of help; what can I do? Would it help if I did …?”
I genuinely want to be a good listener, and I’m sure if I can internalize these lessons, I will be a better husband, father, and friend.
I’m sure none of you are as flawed as I am, but if you also suffer from “solutionitis” I’d definitely give “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better” a shot.
Some of My Favourite Quotes:
“For some reason, we believe either it is our moral responsibility to fix everything and everybody or that everybody believes it is our moral responsibility to solve their problems.”
“Validation is not a cure-all. It is a way to get some relief from carrying the burdens that are not yours. It is a way to let people close to your carry their own responsibilities, while helping them feel loved by you to a far greater degree.”
“…the universal need within each of us to truly believe that I am of worth, me feelings matter, and someone really cares about me.”
“…the principle of validation … is based on the personal understanding that you are acceptable the way you are.”
“We automatically think that when someone brings up a problem, we must immediately solve it for them. In fact, as the person is sharing a problem with us, rather than listening fully, our minds are racing ahead to find solutions for them.”
“When you validate others, you are free of the burden of needing to solve the other person’s problems, allowing you to give your full attention to what is being said.”
Four basic rules of Validation: (1) Listen to what is being said, (2) Listen to the feelings being expressed, (3) Listen to the needs being expressed, (4) Understand by empathizing as best you can.
“Two of the greatest principles I have learned are: (1) I do not have the power to make anything all better for anybody. (2) I am not responsible for solving the problems of everybody else.”
“One of the greatest compliments you can give another person is your complete attention.”
“We want the best for our spouse and too often do everything in our power to make things all better for her. In fact, we feel duty bound to do it. This is what gets in the way of validating the one person we love more than anyone else, and we usually end up creating a greater problem for them rather than solving one.”
“It is important to be able to freely express what is going on inside of you to a listening and caring person without fear of criticism, and there is no better person to fill that role than your spouse.”
“There is nothing quite so demeaning and unfulfilling as having a friend tell you what you “should” do or “ought” to do about the things you are experiencing. True friendship means you listen without giving advice. … If you are thinking of solutions to her problems while she is sharing her feelings and thoughts with you, then you are not giving her your full attention.”