One of the most difficult things to discern in life is what to do when problems arise. But even more difficult is to understand who the problem actually belongs to.
That is a really tricky one.
There are a number of factors at play in situations where an individual is called upon to problem solve or to try to ‘fix’ a certain predicament—we are not talking about car repairs etc. here.
It is important, first, to assess who the individuals are who are involved in the problem. If you are directly involved, then yes, it is partly your responsibility to find a solution to your part of the difficulty. Notice I said, your part, not all parts.
When you and another individual are having a misunderstanding, then you are required to do your part to solve the issue, if it is solvable. Sometimes, your part may simply involve walking away. However, when others are not getting along, and you are not directly a participant but an indirect member of perhaps a family or group, then unless you have been asked by both parties to mediate—and that should only be done if you have professional training in that field—you must step aside and let the individuals duke it out on their own.
When families are at war, the peacemakers, or the ones who feel a need to fix things, will try to mediate the battling members until they themselves become stressed and overwhelmed. It is not the responsibility of anyone but those directly concerned to make peace happen.
Sometimes, children will find themselves trying to keep the peace in warring families, or families where varying levels of abuse or neglect is occurring, or has occurred. They will even become suicidal when they are unable to keep a parent from abusing a sibling or a sibling from not getting along with a parent. This can be a very tragic event if the child is not able to step out of the situation and obtain the help of an adult professional.
When children grow up and are still members of these same families where disruption and disagreement, or abuse is still prevalent, the now-older-son or daughter will often try to fix the still-ongoing situation. If a sibling should step away from the family and reject one or both of the parents, the now supposedly-adult-child will often side with one parent to bring the wayward individual back into the fold. This can come about through a sort of Stockholm-like Syndrome, where the abuse victim forgets all that has taken place and now sides with one of the original abusers. It can create a huge nightmare for that ‘influenced adult’ who is now trying to be a
peacemaker. Even if the now grown-up child feels they must take sides, it is not their problem. They must let it go or suffer the consequences of stress and potential illness.
Once a person is of age, part of being a mature grown-up is learning to make one’s own decisions and live with the outcome. However, passive-aggressive parents will often try to pull their son or daughter into the fray and force them to take sides, explaining that they did nothing wrong and the other parent was the trouble maker.
If this should occur, it is important to remember all situations have two sides to them.
When one is abused, memory is often thready at best. A very helpful form of therapy is hypnotherapy where the individual is put into a mild hypnotic state which allows them to relax enough to remember real situations and not those which their child-mind created to survive.
There are two kinds of abusers: those who directly abuse and those who indirectly abuse. The direct abuser may yell, argue, physically or sexually assault, or verbally chastise and demean.
The indirect abuser is often more difficult to recognize. Indirect abuse can involve things like physical, emotional or mental neglect, such as letting children fend for themselves by not being around, or not having enough food in the house. Emotional indirect abuse can include constantly questioning the child’s every word or action until they are worn down and just agree to get them to stop. Those questions may seem totally fine and not be said harshly or in a demeaning manner. They may even be said with laughter. But when you constantly question and refuse to accept what another person has said in their answer, and you continue to repeat over and over your same desire or wants, the individual on the receiving end will grow very tired and eventually just give in to stop the interrogation.
This is a form of passive-aggressive abuse.
Mental neglect can include not answering another when they ask for assistance but simply ignoring them or shrugging one’s shoulders or turning away as if the questioner is insignificant. This can totally demean another person and make them feel very unloved.
All these forms of indirect abuse are just as damaging as, and even possibly more difficult to treat than, actual direct abuse which can be very clearly labeled.
So, if the peacemaker has been the receiver of any kind of abuse, either direct or indirect, it is imperative they not get involved in any kind of emotional problem-solving within their own family, or any other situation, until they have had many years of therapy, for they are not emotionally equipped to deal with heavy interpersonal issues. But, the bottom line is, it’s still not their problem.
All situations facing individuals must be looked at that way. Are you directly involved? Are you one of the combatants? If not, stay out of it. Back away and let the participants deal with their own situation. Do not take sides. You will suffer the consequences, one way or another. Let the pieces fall where they may. Take care of your own psychological well-being and let others take care of theirs.
We cannot be everyone’s peacemaker. It just doesn’t work. Even Jesus died for his attempts. And he was not the only one.
That doesn’t mean we should not try to help another in distress, but it does mean that we should pick our battles with intelligence when we are not directly involved.
Ben and Sister Abhidheya