The RippleCredit: google imagesCredit: google images

Have you ever thrown a rock in a lake?  If so, you would quickly notice the ripples that the stone produces.  This is the same effect that we see in our own lives every day.  Whether it's your children, your parents, siblings or friends they can all cause ripples in your life.  A ripple happens when someone outside of yourself makes decisions that when made has no immediate effect on you but soon ripples out and affects you and everyone around you.

Let me give you an example of a ripple effect.  Your son decides to move in with his girlfriend even though you tell him the possible consequences involved.  He moves anyway and 3 months later his girlfriend gets pregnant.  He continues to make poor decisions including mismanagement of his money and loses his apartment.  Now your son, his girlfriend, and their new baby are all living with you.  The entire balance of your household is now gone and your stress level is at an all time high. Your home is a mess, the baby is crying all the time and you feel like the walls are caving in on you.  Well, you get the point!

Nobody need be a victim of the Ripple Effect.  There are a few key things that you can do to keep the bad decisions of others from affecting you.

1.  Don't take on other people's baggage.  If someone makes a bad decision, it's not your job to help them to correct it.  Sometimes with family members it is very difficult to give them tough love.  Sometimes this is the only way that people learn.  If you have your own baggage and you take on the baggage of others; your suitcase becomes so full that you can't handle it.  This is how people become overwhelmed.

2.  Don't be an enabler.  If you give advice to your children, family members or friends and they continue to make poor choices, then they need to find a way to deal with it.  Giving them your money or letting them monopolize your time only allows them to continue with their irresponsible behavior.  Until there are consequences some people never learn.  Whatever problems that poor choices bring into  their lives, it is their cross to bear.

3.  Be Selfish.  You have to care enough about yourself to make sure you have what you need.  Happiness is something that we all deserve and should have as much as possible.  If someone in your life is causing you to worry and keeping you depressed with their problems; you need to cut them off and move on.  This doesn't mean you don't care, it means you are putting yourself first.

4.  Don't be responsible for the Ripple Effect. Make sound decisions and stick to them.  If you are thinking about taking some action in your life that could have a negative effect on yourself or others; go ahead with caution.    Decide and have a back up plan if things don't work out.  Be your own best friend so that no one else in your circle is affected by your decision.

By following these guidelines you should effectively protect yourself from the ripple effect.  We all  should be aware of the decisions we make and the impact they can have on others.  If we all live our best lives possible and make sound decisions, then everyone we know can have the same peace that we wish for ourselves.