I recently had a conversation with someone about how to help someone who won’t help themselves.
This made me think back to my teens and 20’s. This made me think about how I would unconsciously relive scenes of abuse over and over in my mind. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I decided to hang up my victim mindset.
I spent most of my younger life walking around on edge and angry, waiting for the next threat so I could confront it. The truth of this matter is that I handled any small threat as a flight or fight situation, and that was wrong of me.
Recalling how I hurt myself and others makes me want to help others get out of their own way of being happy. I want to help others do something that I failed to do for so long.
While speaking to her, I became ashamed and realized that even during my late 20’s, when I thought of myself as a fighter and survivor, I was still reacting as a victim.
It was hard for me to be completely honest with myself because I constantly felt as if others would look down upon me, judge, or not understand. I had to let go and take responsibility for my own actions. I had to accept that my actions, as an adult, cannot be blamed on my past or lack of childhood. I had to stop living in the past. So, I explained this to her.
We are unable to help someone who does not want help, but we can love them thru their teachings. I explained to her that encouragement, positive actions, and words are still a sign of supporting them.
The difference between can’t and won’t.
If a person can’t, that should mean that they are literally unable, and this person should be open to accepting help. If a person won’t, that means that YOU can’t help them.
Being someone’s crutch for too long.
When we make the decision to help another person, we tend to give them a crutch when we meant to give them a helping hand. Depending on a crutch for too long can weaken a person. Think about this. If you did not use your legs for a long period of time, it would be very difficult to stand alone, let alone walk by yourself. It is human nature for us to use the crutch if it is there.
During this conversation, I explained that I wasn’t even aware that I needed to or could change. I encouraged her to ask open-ended questions. Let this person lead him or herself down their own path of changing.
The difference between a cry for help and a cry of habit.
Not everyone who cries actually is asking for help. Some people are unable to live without drama and a habit of poor me. Some people prefer to roll in their sorrow and cry habit than actually change. To put this bluntly, they need an audience to continue their misery. Sometimes helping someone means leaving them alone.
As I ended this conversation, I reminded her that no matter how good her intentions may be, do not be co-dependent. What do I mean by that? Codependency can be very toxic. As much as you love this person, you have to make the decision not to take responsibility for their actions. Sometimes to help another person, you must let them fall down over and over, and let them face they’re own consequences. For a family member, this can be a hard action to stomach because you don’t want your family member struggling. But you have to face it.
Comfort them. Support them. Love them. But remember it takes failure to grow.
As a family or friend, at times, you may feel powerless. YOU’RE NOT. The journey to recovery and wellness is not an easy journey. For anyone who has ever been on either side of this hand, you understand that it is easier said than done.
So, here’s a few things to keep in mind as you are lending a helping hand to someone you care about.
- Remember the journey to happiness is not your journey.
- Set clear boundaries.
- Remember the difference between can’t and won’t.
- Do not be codependent.
- Lend a helping hand, not a crutch.
- Encourage, comfort, support, and love them.
“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves”.
I am Katrina.