We’ve all had a loved one who had a harmful behavior and constantly frustrated everyone around them. Chances are, every one of us has experienced and faced the consequences of dealing with that kind of a person.
At first, you think, “That’s not who they are. They probably had a bad day.” But then it turns into a habit and it becomes too insufferable to pretend that nothing is happening. So, you decide to reach out to them and help them.
But, after some time you realize that no matter what you do, you cannot seem to change their behavior. You hope that your solutions might work, and they might actually accept your advice, but the more time passes, the worse their condition gets. You try hard, but you end up frustrated and exhausted.
Their rejection hurts you and drives you mad at the same time.
Well, here’s the thing.
I know that you care about them, but you have to understand one thing. You cannot change or fix people. Whether it’s your parents, your friends, your partner or a sibling, you have to put it in your head – they are not machines, they are human beings.
They don’t have a restart button. Sometimes it takes much more than just an advice or a nudge to push them forward. The best thing you can do for these people is to show them your love by giving them space to evolve on their own and eventually change.
But, let me warn you, that requires a great deal of patience and tolerance.
I remember how much I’ve struggled with my father.
His whole life he struggled with many unresolved issues from his childhood. To make everything even worse, our whole family went through a hard time. My parents split many times and we changed houses a lot. In a nutshell, I believe that some of the issues that I’m working on are direct consequences of that painful part of my life.
I really tried with him, I did. But after many unpleasant confrontations and unsuccessful interactions, I decided that it was enough. I stopped analyzing, searching for possible solutions, giving advice and swimming in the opposite direction. Because every attempt to help him was always met with a big resistance. It was pointless.
As time passed, I realized that out of all the things that I did for him, I never really sat and listened to what he had to say. I always blamed him for the things he did to us, but never really asked him how he feels. I forgot that my ability to just be there for him regardless of what happened can truly change everything.
And, so it did. And I was right. I had failed terribly. He had so much pain accumulated in his heart. He never needed the advice. He never asked for that. All he wanted was a person who would listen to his side of the story. He just wanted his voice to be heard.
I can honestly say that this experience opened my eyes and helped me learn some of the most valuable lessons in life. I always blamed him for everything without thinking that this person has his own story that he eventually wants to share. But I guess I needed some time to reflect on myself and analyze the effect my actions had on him.
Fortunately, I got the message on time. Loud and clear.
So, this goes to all of you out there who are struggling with the same issue.
Regardless of your sincere desire to help the ones you love, sometimes it is just better to say less, do less and listen more. In many cases, these people just want to be heard. They just want you to be present and pay attention to what they have to say. Nothing else.
So, please whatever you do, try to acknowledge their situation and realize that a simple nod of the head, an honest “Mm-hmm” or a warm, comforting hug can sometimes do much more than your advice. I know that your intentions are good and sincere, but sometimes you have to prioritize their emotions over yours.
However, doing this doesn’t mean that you approve of their harmful behavior, but rather that you understand how they feel.
A professional writer with many years of experience in the fields of psychology, human relationships, science, and spirituality.