I just came back from China for a month’s visit. Before I went on the trip, one of my cousins asked me to buy a few bottles of iron supplements from the US market and bring back to China for her 5-year-old son. I didn’t quite like her choice of the brand of iron supplement though, because: A. It is obscure; B. It is unreasonably expensive; C. There seem no reviews on the product and it is hard to find. I didn’t think it’s a good idea to be hard-set on that particular brand.

Out of my own “kindness,” I offered my cousin that I can look into more selections to find the best iron supplements for her instead of getting that brand she wanted. However, she didn’t respond to my kind offering, as if it went through one ear and came out the other. I felt that she was determined to get iron supplements, that particular one. I then changed my question and asked how many bottles she wanted, she said 10. I just saved the trouble of trying to make decisions for other people, and she was so happy to get what she wanted.

It was a simple incidence, but I was hit with this message, you can’t make decisions for other people, no matter how right you think you are.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

Often times in life we want to make decisions for others, we want to convince them that our view is better and that they should follow what we think is the best for them. But in fact, what is in their mind is as true as your thoughts to your mind. Allowing others to make their own decisions, even if it turned out to be a mistake, is to respect other people’s right to make choices and learn from their own choices.

Trying to make decisions for others is as if opening the eggs by hand when it’s not ready to hatch. If the chicken egg won’t be hatched until 3 days later, you can’t say how about coming out now. You can’t make the decision for them and forcefully open the eggs. You know what the result will be if you do that.

Everyone needs to learn at his/her pace, and their decisions should be respected. There is no right or wrong answers, but simply what is the best for your growth right now. I used to know a young girl whose family was devoted to a particular religion. As the girl was growing up they always went to church as a family and was known to be very faithful. Then one day the girl simply left the church and decided to never return. The rest of the family was disappointed about her decision and simply did not understand her seemingly radical choices. But you and I know that it was the right choice for her, in her own mind. And that’s all that mattered.

You can’t make decisions for others, just as you won’t allow others to make decisions for you. Even if your decision is not the best, it doesn’t matter, because you learn from it and gain growth. It is the right decision for you, and you grow at your own pace. You would not allow others to dictate your own life. Similarly, what others decide is the result of their thinking from their own mind, and it’s right for them. There is power in allow others to make their own decisions, no matter how different you would like them to choose.

It does not mean to ignore and do nothing about other’s decisions, when you see clearly that what they are thinking or doing is not the best choice for them. You can offer your opinions of what you think is best for them, but when they do not follow your advice, simply let it go, with the understanding that they are choosing what is best for them in their own mind, at this point in time.

The ability to make free choices is perhaps the most fundamental of living a life, and no one can deprive that from others. You can’t make decisions for other people, and you should be happy about that. When you understand this concept, and apply it in your daily life, you will feel at ease when other people make choices that’s strikingly different than your own. You will be able to let go, and build better relationships with true understanding and trust in others. You will start to see harmony in your relationships.

PS: there is an even subtler level of allowing others to make their own decisions, which I will cover in a later article.