Menu
Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

How to Help Someone Who Won’t Help Themselves

“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron

Recently I got into a hypothetical conversation with someone who very quickly turned hostile and accusatory. Let’s call her Jane. My first instinct was to get defensive, but then I realized this subject was quite raw for Jane, and there was likely something going on below the surface.

Usually when people are combative seemingly without cause, there’s some underlying pain fueling it.

As we got to the root of things, I learned that Jane was holding onto anger toward someone she once loved, and she felt a strong, driving need to convince people that this other person was wrong.

Since she acknowledged that she’d been feeling depressed, lonely, and helpless, I felt obligated to at least try to help her see things from a different perspective. But that ultimately proved futile.

She was committed to being angry and hurt, and all she wanted from me was validation that she was justified.

I kept thinking back to how I felt at eighteen years old, reliving scenes of adolescent abuse that I refused to let go of well into my twenties. I spent years stewing in anger because I felt like a victim, and any threat to that comforting sense of righteousness only made me angrier.

Remembering how badly and unnecessarily I hurt myself, it felt imperative that I help her let go. I wanted to help her get out of her own way. I wanted her to do what I had failed to do for far too long.

Seeing that stubborn, bitter commitment to pain reminded me of how angry I was with myself when I realized I’d hurt myself far worse than anyone else—and how ashamed I felt when I realized I enjoyed being a victim, receiving pity, attention, and (what felt like) love.

Suddenly I recognized that I wasn’t just trying to help Jane; I was also judging my former self.

That internal conflict—those confused feelings and mixed motivations—would make it really difficult to offer the type of unbiased, loving support that would allow her to form her own insights if, in fact, she was ready to form them.

Very rarely do people open up to genuine help when they feel like someone is looking down on them or projecting onto them. None of us want to feel judged, misunderstood, or coerced into believing something when we’re not ready.

So what do we want? What is it that helps people create change when they’re struggling and resistant to help?

Since I have been on both sides of the table—and I have felt equally powerless on both—I decided to ask the Tiny Buddha Facebook community, “How do you help someone who won’t help themselves?”

Some of the answers that resonated with me include:

1. First, check yourself. Do they really need help, or are you pushing some agenda subconsciously or otherwise? Second, let them know you’re there. Third, give them an example to follow. ~Carl B Salazar

2. People have to come to where they need to be to get their lessons. You can’t help someone who is not willing. But you can love them through it. Send light and love and hold them in your heart space. I had to hit my own bottom and dead end to turn around and climb back up…when I was ready and willing. ~Karen Blake

3. We can stop judging people, assuming that they are not helping themselves. Perhaps the helplessness is the sign of their being out of their comfort zone. If we want to help, we can do some positive things like: Give some encouragement or discuss the situation with them and let their own intuition discover the best way to help themselves. ~ Santosh Nag

4. Examine your attachment to their choices. Their challenges and choices are their life lessons, not yours. Is your wanting to help them saying something about you that you need to learn? ~Susan McCourt

5. You can help them by just being there and being supportive. You can still plant seeds. Most minds are so conditioned it is almost impossible to shed any light on their world. So just smile, nod, suggest, and if it does not help then move on with no regret because you tried. ~Skip Blankley

6. Don’t enable them. Put the tools in their hands to help themselves, show them how to use them, step back, and be there when they trip. Love them when they fall. Repeat repeatedly. ~Crystal Boudreau

7. You can’t make people be what you want them to be and you can’t decide what is best for them. You can only choose for yourself. There is a huge difference between can’t and won’t. Can’t might be open to help. Won’t can’t be your problem. The best thing is won’t might not always be won’t. Hope for that. ~ Melodee Luka Kardash

8. Love them until they learn to love themselves. ~ Amber Weinacht

9. Stop trying to make them live as you think they should…How others live is not for us to control, but to learn from. ~ Crystal Sverdsten

10. Let go. They have to help themselves and accept responsibility. ~Viengxay Jimenez

11. Their path is not yours to blaze, and who’s to say they’re not exactly where they need to be at this very moment? ~Fiona Berger Maione

12. Focus on your own well being (boundaries) so that you can provide stable support when they ask for help. Allow them their process no matter how difficult it is to watch. It is neither our right or responsibility to manipulate their journey. ~Robyn Williams

13. People who won’t help themselves usually don’t trust others or themselves. Until they do, help them along by being a friend, but don’t engage in crazy behavior with them. ~Jerelyn Allen

14. How do we know, when we’re in our own little egos, that that person isn’t already doing their work? Sometimes, “helping” someone, means leaving them alone…sometimes, you help just by being yourself and healing your stuff so that others can see the change and know that it’s possible. The best way I’ve found to help others is to try and be as authentic as I possibly can. The rest, well, is just none of my business. ~Amy Scott

15. Don’t turn your back on them. Just accepted them for who they are, flaws and all, then decide for yourself if it is worth it to you. If it is, patience is a virtue. If not, then keep a hand out but watch out for yourself as well. No need for two people who won’t help themselves. ~April Spears

16. Support is important. Talk to your friends don’t leave them when they go through hard times, you’ll need them when you’re going through a hard time. ~Rosemin Bhanji

17. Help them see how their actions impact others (children, spouse or parents). ~Eloise Cabral

18. Open the door. They’ll walk through it when they’re ready. ~Devon Palmer

19. Be a role model. Show them what life is like when you cultivate and cherish the self. ~Steven Lu

20. Stay strong! Use your strength to combat their weakness. It takes time. ~ Laurie Stahl Sturgeon

I ended up telling Jane exactly what was going on in mind—how I’d clung to unfairness for years and missed out on a lot of life in the process. I acknowledged that she is a different person. I then told her that I make no assumptions or judgments about what’s going on with her and what’s right for her, but I’m here if she wants to talk.

I’d like to think that in owning my own stuff I may have inspired her to do the same. Sometimes all we can do to help other people is continue to help ourselves.

Photo by niceazurpassionpoesie

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) and Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself. She's also the co-founder of the eCourse Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the HeroFollow @tinybuddha for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://yourethedeepestperson.blogspot.com Joanne Pilkington

    I love what you say about pain here. When I was depressed, I do remember saying in my head, “I’m really upset, so this is how I’m going to act,” which just pushes you down further. It feels like you’re sitting back and doing nothing about some injustice though, as if you have to show the world you’re in pain so that everyone knows what’s been done to you.

  • http://lifeisnotamovie.net Robin

    It’s so hard to get out of your own way but I don’t think any of us can really help those who aren’t ready for it or just don’t want it. All the things I’ve learned in my life I had to learn in my own time and in my own way. It’s too bad because being stubborn like that will ruin relationships.

  • http://profiles.google.com/celinen196 Celine Noel

    This is so timely, thank you so much for posting!

  • http://profiles.google.com/thankful.project Julia Osovskaya

    I needed to read something like that. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Yes that’s exactly how I felt! I found every possible excuse to resist letting go. It wasn’t until I decided that I didn’t want to hurt that I stop hurting. It sounds so simple, but I think a lot of us get attached to our pain and drama.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I think you’re right there. We all need to form our own insights. One thing that’s been hard for me to accept, but ultimately liberating, is that some people may never form certain insights, but I don’t need to carry that around, as if I could have done more than I did. Once we’ve done all we can do, that’s all we can do.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/pablokenfold Pablo Kenfold

    What @google-4e45e44c1658589352e75ce8ac917c5f:disqus said.

  • http://www.miaogisteas.co.nz William La Mont

    This is brilliant – what a wonderful community you have, and insightful too!

    I always feel like I need to tell my brother not to ass around and be a bum like I did, but I know at the same time I can’t make him change, he has to want to change himself. I realized a while back that it was just me projecting my fears onto him. He’s so obstinate anyway, it would be like trying to reason with a brick wall ^_^ Best to let him find his own way, and just be there if he needs me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Alive24.St7 Steven Lu

    I did a happy dance once I saw my advice up on the list…#19!! Thank you Lori for putting up my answer on your list. I’m glad it resonated with you and I hope it resonates with the readers. Once you cultivate yourself, you experience a form of happiness and know what it takes to get to that feeling. Experience is the voice in tough times =)

    “There is a voice we should more often listen to—a voice we know in our hearts offers sage advice that can help us through dark times. It is the voice of experience.” -Tim Carpenter-

  • Valerie Carruthers

    All the comments were excellent. It’s time we stop faulting others and ourselves and start tuning in with compassion. Blessings to all.

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    This is a subject close to my heart, because while I have been in the position of trying to help others, I have also had some close to me try to “help” me when I was in a really stuck place. It wasn’t at all that I wasn’t willing to help myself… the people trying to help were very judgemental and forceful and not giving me the kind of support I needed. One friend in particular was really upset with my “negative attitude”, and the fact that I usually didn’t want to talk about what I was going through (A) I wasn’t ready to talk about it, because it was so raw and B) she was so judgemental that I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her). Her “help” was pretty damaging to me because I was so sensitive at the time and already in so much pain. She ended up sending me a really nasty email about how I was ruining my life and friendships by not letting people help me, and she still to this day mentions how “understanding” she was when I didn’t want to talk, which just shows you how different her perception of the whole situation is! Anyway, I didn’t let it ruin our friendship but it could’ve… the lesson I came out of it with is that A) I should never assume I know how to “help” someone, and the best I can do is be there for them and offer my support, and ask if there’s anything I can do and leave it at that.

    I think we each bring so much of our own baggage into these situations that it’s just best to try and take the most low-key option possible and let the person find their own way with our quiet support. At least that’s my take on it after my recent experience. I think we all want so badly to “solve” other people’s problems and help them avoid pain and that’s just not possible in most cases. “The only way out is to go through”, and I truly believe that.

    Thanks for another great piece! I wish everyone had to read these–the world would be a much more compassionate place. :)

  • Earl Dunbar

    Thank you. I have a friend of 40 years who is currently unable to help himself. He clings to his anger and thoughts. I have been unable to help him, and have been somewhat aware that not only was I unable to do so, but that my own dualistic sidetrips have been blocking me from just being present. Guess I’m the one being taught.

  • karen

    I HAVE MS AND AM IN A W/C MOST OF THE TIME. I CAN’T DO A LOT OF HOUSEHOLD TASKS I USED TO DO. MY HUSBAND IS MY CARETAKER AND HAS TAKEN ON EXTRA DUTIES . HE WON’T ACCE4PT CAREGIVER5 SUPPOR HELP THAT I SUGGEST. WHAT DO I DO? ANSWER ME IN A MESSAGE

  • truewonder

    In my own experiences I have learned to set boundaries when dealing with an angry or very negative person for my self first. Often times it is best to love from afar, yet definitely still…LOVE. I cannot help a drowning man in heavy seas and high waves when I too am at the risk of drowning if I try to engage him at his particular “location.”

  • Lance

    Love, love, love this post.

    This is a difficult lesson to learn and apply through life.

    The reality of life is that while we are so
    similar we live in our own world in time.

    Delivery of the right message at the right time is truly an art that
    must be founded in compassion.

    This type
    of conversation is so great to see and reminds me of how I need to
    practice.

    One standard of Buddhist practice that I think can help us
    in this situation being constructive to people who are in a tough spot is the right
    speech. Before you speak take the time
    to reflect: Is it true? Is it kind?
    Is it useful? Is it timely? Does this bring people together? (Concord)

    There is a great audio talk on this by Gil Fronsdal:

    http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/2291.html

    Having the patience to wait for a person to come to the
    point where the message is received is another talent all together.

    Thank you to everyone who has posted!

    Lance

  • Lance

    Love, love, love this post. This is a difficult lesson to learn and
    apply through life. The reality of life is that while we are so similar
    yet we live in our own world in time. Delivery of the right message
    at the right time is truly an art that must be founded in compassion.
    This type of conversation is so great to see and reminds me of how I
    need to practice.

    One standard of Buddhist practice that I think can help us in this
    situation being constructive to people who are in a tough spot is
    right speech. Before you speak take the time to reflect:
    Is it true?
    Is it kind?
    Is it useful?
    Is it timely?
    Does this bring people together? (Concord)

    There is a great audio talk on this by Gil Fronsdal:
    http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/2291.html

    Having the patience to wait for a person to come to the point
    where the message is received is another talent all together.

    Thank you to everyone who has posted!
    Lance

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I could relate to what you wrote in a big way. I think we’ve been programmed to some extent to rush past uncomfortable feelings in favor of being positive. Sometimes people on the outside can’t see that someone is actually in their process, even if it’s a messy, negative stage, and they’ll move past it when they’re ready.

    Of course there have been times in my life when pushes from other people have helped, but it’s never been from people who have badgered and judged me. Ultimately, we all need space to form conclusions on our own–I know it’s been true for me!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s such a wonderful analogy. I have learned the same thing about boundaries–that I can’t always help someone who is committed to drowning in pain and negativity, but I can minimize occasions where I enable that.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Karen,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what’s going on. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to know you need extra help and feel that your husband won’t hear and honor that. I’m not sure what type of advice I can offer given that there’s so much I don’t know about your situation. Is there a neutral third party who may be able to moderate a conversation between you and your husband (a friend or family member)? It might help to have someone help you fully hear each others’ concerns and form a conclusion together.

    I hope this helps somewhat. You are in my thoughts!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I suspect we are always the ones being taught. Every time I think I am saving someone else, I realize there’s somewhere within myself that needs to be healed.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for responding and being part of this post! I love your suggestion about cultivating and cherishing the self. Beautiful. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks William! I am always inspired by the many wise, heartfelt suggestions people share on the Tiny Buddha Facebook page. It sounds like you’ve reached a smart conclusion about your brother. I’ve tread a similar path with someone in my family. And I’ve realized lately that she has been making tons of progress in her own way. It may not look like what I expected it should based on my own experiences, but it’s definitely more than I’ve often given her credit for.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome (and same to you @twitter-16206743:disqus ) =)

  • http://theinfinitespirit.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    Fantastic post! I especially like #9-Don’t make them live as you think they should. I think a lot of us try so hard to fit in, sometimes we don’t even know what is best for our authentic self. I have been trying to personally explore that concept of how I should live a life that is best for me and no one else. I find it to be challenging to find out what my own expectations are. Worrying about other people just makes the journey more complicated.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know what you mean! Sometimes it seems so tempting to compare myself to other people, even if I don’t actually want what they have. I’ve also been focusing solely on what is right for me, and trying to extend that same respect to other people. I think the world would be a happier, more peaceful place if we all did this.

  • Anonymous

    Loved this post, as I was in this situation recently and initially I tried to force my feelings and ways on my friend. She refused the help every step of the way, so I finally got the hint and left her alone, thinking she’d reach out to me when she needed my help or support. It turns out, she ended up leaving our friendship completely, which also said a lot about our relationship. I tried to keep the lines of communication open and still keep in contact, but our relationship became strained and very “acquaintance” like, so in the end I just had to let go, and wish her the best.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’ve been in that situation myself, as well. I think if someone was willing to walk away, it’s generally for the best that they did. It sounds like you were a wonderful friend to her. =)

  • http://groupon.comclone.com groupon clone software

    Helpful post Lori! thanks for the share.

  • http://mindfulproductivity.net Beverley

    A great list…I think #5 is an important one…. ‘
    You can help them by just being there and being supportive’ Oftentimes just listening when someone tells what is troubling them is very comforting. For some just being able to say out loud what they are feeling – without being interrupted or having their feelings commented on or judged – is a revelation for them. They are not only able to externalise what might have been swirling around in their heads for ages but very often it is the first time they actually hear their feeling put into words. By just listening and supporting them as they speak they ‘hear’ their own story and can move forward

  • probedroid

    I absolutely love this post and the comments, too. I was recently in a fantastic relationship with someone who entered a dark place because of her anger towards her father and her ex husband. I did everything I could to support her and be there for her, but she pushed me away. I was confused and hurt and couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. #13 screamed at me, and #10 and #11 resonate, too. I pray for her every day, and that’s all I can do, isn’t it? Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for adding this Buddhist practice, Lance. It’s wonderful advice!

  • http://livelikecrazie.blogspot.com Jessie Rose

    @c4cf72a2547d81e8ca2abd0b6694364c:disqus such a perfect analogy! I have had friendships in the past where the individual has been so unwilling to change themselves, but instead wanted everyone else to drown with them. It was the portrayal of “misery loves company” in its truest form. Unfortunately, these relationships can become more harmful than loving, and I have learned to generally stick to #10 and #18 above.

  • <3

    much love and apreciation for you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Right back at ya =)

  • Dee DiFonzo

    When talking to others who ask for help or guidance, I always try to share ONLY my experience strength and hope.  Similar situations that I have been in, what I tried to do and the outcome of it.  This way they can make a decision for themselves on how they want to handle it.  I also tryto remember the acronym THINK…  Is it Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Nice and Kind…. if its not those things, then I don’t say them. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I love that acronym! I hadn’t heard it before. Thank you for sharing it here. =)

  • Pingback: 6/10/11 Tiny Wisdom: On When to Hold and When to Fold | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In

  • Preshnz

    Yes, That SEEMS like the case for some people. If there is no drama or something going terribly bad, they feel nothing at all. At least misery is a feeling.
     I don’t understand how to turn someone around, to make them realize it’s THEM making themselves unhappy. We can’t control everything in our lives, but the things we can we should take responsibility for. We are responsible for our own happiness.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I don’t know if we can turn someone around. More of than not, they just need to learn the lessons in their own time.

  • Pingback: 4 Key Questions to Feel Fully Fulfilled and Content | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In

  • M. Katie O’Donnell

    Wow! Well said, well formed, and well written. These were exactly the words I needed not only for my situation today but I am slowly realizing in a lot of other areas in my life. I got in a fight w/ my Mom (who was non-existent most my life) over her hoarding obsession. I original came to help her clean because of the trouble she has breathing when she moves things or gets too excited. (She has Emphysema and chronic lung disorder). We ended up going at eachother’s throats and she went off on a tangent about the past and family. She just wigged out and everytime I was trying to clean she was my shadow right behind me checking. The argument got so escalated it was sad because if she continues she won’t have much of a home or a lifestyle for her sicknesses. I just wanted her to be around to see me get married and to be the Grandmother to my children.

    Our argument got so bad I couldn’t help her, she had to learn to help herself. Amongst many other of your statements.

    I’m thinking about sharing your words on my blog and sharing your blog w/ my readers, would that be alright?

    Thank you and enjoy your day,
    Love Katie

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad this was helpful to you, and absolutely, feel free to share this on your blog!

  • C M Cline

    It’s very hard to help someone who either doesn’t want help or doesn’t realize they really need help. The key is perseverance and to never say never. Don’t give up on someone who seems hopeless. With faith all things are possible.

  • Mitchell

    What does one does one do with someone who truly won’t help themselves–who squanders every bit of assistance they receive, and then resents the people who offered help?  I knew someone like this  a long time ago,  That person was also friend.  I just got tired of listening to the blaming and the deflecting. It was always someone else’s fault she couldn’t get it together.  My friend was super bright and very well educated.  Able bodied and attractive.  What is a good person’s obligation to someone like that? I tried to be a good listener.  I tried to be nonjudgmental and encouraging.   I finally just got fed up and tired of this individual’s depressing, lazy outlook.  I finally cut the line and let the friendship float away.  I really believe I was the last friend this person had in the world.  I have always felt badly about my decision to cut loose from what I finally decided was a toxic, one-way relationship. I never really addressed my dissatisfactions in a candid conversation with this person.  By the time I ended the relationship, I guess I really just didn’t care any more.    

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    It sounds like you did all you could, and then ultimately did what you needed to do to take care of yourself. I think really that’s the best we can do. I also think that sometimes when we lose a friend and support, it serves as a wake up call. That happened for me years back, and it was one the best things that could have happened.

  • Grindmedown122

    I didn’t read the post but had more of a question do u know anything about shadows and demon faces i kinda feel like this demon face when i close my eyes i see is a mask. I see it after my depression or crying but at the same time it kinda resembles someones face. If you look at the disturbed band the demon face it looks similar to that. the first time i saw it come to me it came as a darker energy but as i progressed and got thrown off my spiritual path it just staid but the energy faded.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Unfortunately, I don’t have much experience with this. Is this something you visualize because you’re feeling down? I know I visualize all kinds of things that coincide with my moods…

  • Pjrowse10

    It seems particularly relevant to me that the blog was first written when I started seeing someone and now end up needing to find guidance from it now. So many comments resonate and I’m now feeling much more positive as a result of reading them. I hope I can be of more help to this person now in which ever way they need. Thanks everyone.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TS35L5UA5A4X52BD3U6WGEQ5PA Lisa Landry-Quebedeaux

    Great article when I needed the most. Thanks!

  • Erin

    This post and these comments are fabulous… bless you all for sharing your insights, questions, and wisdoms!!

    I was raised by (grew up surrounded by) people who were (and are) very angry & unhappy people who (very successfully) focused on status, money, and outward appearances only — and would neither seek help nor ever admit they needed it — despite their rage, misery, and endless negativity.

    I’ve found that — because I learned to love and deal with that type of personality early on — like from fetus-hood – that over the course of my life I have shown an uncanny ability to recreate that scenario over and over in my friendships and relationships. Much to my detriment, I’ve repeatedly picked similar personalities to love and I’ve continued to fight the fight.

    By fight the fight I mean doing things like:
    – trying to get them to admit / realize they have a problem
    – trying to convince them that it’s okay that they are not perfect
    – forcing “help” down their throats (that they were not asking for nor believing they needed)

    I did a lot in the vein of:
    “Hey… will you please stop blaming me for your all your problems.”
    and unfortunately: “Willya quit being abusive to me & do something good… please?”

    Not a pretty picture, and supremely bad ideas all around!!

    I do my best to learn as I go — but my 2 current closest relationships (one friend and one partner) still reflect how far I have to go in truly removing myself from this cycle. 
    Tonight, in talking to my partner, he said something to the effect of “You are standing up for me… against your own interests & well being.” Which I was. Oy.

    That lead me here…

    I have this bookmarked now & will be reading it a lot –
    so many great ideas and so much heart in it. Love you guys!!

    So much speaks to me here — the one that really got me was a comment that Lisa made to Robin… “One thing that’s been hard for me to accept, but ultimately liberating, is that some people may never form certain insights, but I don’t need to carry that around, as if I could have done more than I did. Once we’ve done all we can do, that’s all we can do.”

    “Some people may never form certain insights” 
    It’s so simple and obvious… now that I’ve heard it…

    Thanks, Lisa. You have no idea how long I’ve needed that! To me, that’s key.
    Some ghosts you don’t mind giving up…

    Again, thank you Lisa — and all that have shared here!! Bless you all !

    ps: sorry this turned out to be so long!!

     

  • R_cd5916

    nothing i say or do helps, it seems like when spouse gets depressed he has a a tendency of bringing me in with him even though i try so hard not to become depressed, seems like when he is depressed and i try to be happy , laugh and just having a good day, he looks at me as though i should not be happy. i try the pull back and let him alone, i have tried the ill help you through this along with trying to help him when he wants to get help with a doctor. Just seems no matter what i say or try to do to help he thinks i am being controlling. UGH I am Lost 

  • Uchben

    Ur do right n this info will help me help my 20 son

  • KNickelD

    I’m struggling with this now. It is a parent and not a friend. I do not know what the right boundaries are or how to address it when they are so irrational and unwilling to take accountability for the things they do or do not do.

  • Mfillier21

    I am actually in a situation where my wife has issues with self harm and depression and refuses to get help I try and try to help hep but nothing seems to work. She will call crisis lines for help but when she gets face to face with a dr or counselor she lies through her teeth and pushes away the help…it’s really dishearting for me to see my wife struggle like this and I’m at a loss can someone please help me figure out what to do I’m afraid to lose her through her self harm or her thoughts of suicide and I’m desperate for the help

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I’m so sorry to hear what you’re dealing with. When I first saw your comment, I didn’t really know what to write, since I know this is a serious situation, and I am not a professional. However, I did a little Googling to find some advice that might be useful to you. You may want to check out one of these links:

    http://www.angelfire.com/theforce/raze_the_rose/family.html
    http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/how-to-help-the-person-who-self-injures/

    In most articles on this topic, they talk about calling 911 if the harming gets serious. I know this may seem extreme, but it’s possible your wife would benefit from the type of care she may not be ready to accept. Perhaps taking a serious measure would help her start the long path toward recovery.

    You are your wife are in my thoughts!

    Lori

  • desires1989

    hey what does 7th means ? I didn’t understand quite well, does it mean that when we can’t there is hope we can atleast try to help, ?please guide Lori…

  • Nikki

    Great message! Love how you shared a piece from others’ thoughts…many “mini” lessons…very grateful heart…;)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Nikki. I’m glad you found this helpful!

  • Shana

    It is people like all of you that will keep the true beauty of life and Self alive. I recently began reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘Power of Now’ after 50 pages, my outlook has started to change. I hope, along with articles like this one, I am able to say in 20 years, ‘I stood by the woman I love dearly, whilst she worked out the beauty of life and Self, on her own’ – Reading this article has already told me where I am and have been going wrong, as from Now, that will change. Thank you to everyone, the world is a nicer place knowing there’s people like you in it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That was a powerful book for me as well Shana! That’s wonderful you’re standing by the woman you love like that. She’s fortunate to have you in her life. =)

  • Shanna – NEED HELP!

    But what do you do when the person is your “older” brother who has always had someone to pick him up and he doesnt want help he wants you to just fix it. My brother is in his 40′s and I’m in my 20′s. I have a stable relationship, home, and dont do the bad things that he does. He has been an addict for years to both alcohol and drugs. He uses people as long as they let him and then moves to someone else. I let him stay with me a few days to do job applications and to prevent homelessness, and he wound up staying a year. I finally found him a job, found him his own place and got him back on track. It lasted just a year and now hes jobless, fixing to be homeless, and he stayed with me the past few days. I simply asked him his plan seeing that he didnt appear motivated or appreciative for what was being offered. He got all defensive making me feel guilty as if I was kicking him out. My boyfriend took him and left saying that he is the one wanting to go, let him. Then he accused me of not helping him even though he was family, now a part I left out is both of our parents passed away from cancer a few years ago and they were the ones that catered to him and helped him alot. I had to take care of myself and do all the things that a teen should never have done but I powered threw and came out a better person. However, due to job cuts I am struggling too, and he is just going to bring me down with him. He is so rude, always constantly eating all of my food, not listening to what I say about things (ex: I have enough leftovers for all of us to eat for dinner – told him three times that there was plenty other things to eat, not only did he eat over half of the left overs he left out the rest to ruin), and just overall a pest taking no care with my things and breaking stuff with an oops my bad attitude. Mind you its only been three days. So my question is… Why do I feel guilty that he’s gone. I cant stand him and he’s a big pain and burden to deal with, but he is my brother. I have never felt so happy and finally able to just live my life as when he was not around, and feel now the depression starting again with his return. What do I do?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Shanna,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I can understand why you’d feel guilty and conflicted, seeing as you feel responsible for him and want to help, but also you need to set healthy boundaries for your own well-being. I can see why him being in your home would effect your emotional well-being.

    If I were in your shoes, I might tell him there is a time limit to his stay, but you will do everything in your power to help him make that time productive. This way, he knows you’re not abandoning him; you’re giving him a push and helping him get back on his feet.

    I hope this helps a little!

    Lori

  • Carren

    This is something very hard for me to deal with. I watch over my my Aunt who is only 67 years old. The problem is her whole life she would just sit around in her house and eat which caused her to have health problems and she almost died 3 times due to it. After coming out of the hospital she was moved in to an independent living facility. The first year she did good. She would go out and talk with people, go to excersize class. 3 years has gone by and now she is staying in her room. Wont go out to eat in the dinning area. She will only eat in her bed. Not on the couch or any where eles. My husband tells me if she wants to live that way let her, If she wants to mess up her life and end up back in the hospital let her. I can’t deal with that. It makes me mad. I know I cant change her and he is right, it is her life but it makes upset. My husband said’s I just need to walk away. Easier said then done.

  • Carolan Ivey

    This post really resonates with me. Sometimes you also have to accept the possibility that the other person will never learn to love themselves, that they’ll hang on to being a martyr to their last breath. It’s all they know, and anything else – even positive – is too far out of their comfort zone.

  • greg

    My wife of 21 years wanted a separation out of the blue. It tore apart that she wanted to separate. she explained it because of things that happened years ago and that she was hard on me, and suppress her feelings. she told me she only married me to make her self legal in gods eyes, it hurt deeply but I tried to hang in my marriage, I contacted Prophet Mike for help and vowed to stand for my marriage, my wife still brings up things from the past, no infidelity on either of us, just excuse after excuse, our marriage is based on sex. I asked Prophet Mike to heal my marriage and within four day, things became normal and my wife put away the idea of separation and wanted me so badly like never before. how Prophet Mike did this, i don’t know. But since he did this for me, i believe he can help with which ever relationship you may be going through and i will gladly recommend him to anyone. If you ever want his help, here is his contact purityspell@gmail.com

  • Nojuan Especial

    You people should meet my friend. It’s as if she WANTS to be miserable. She outright REFUSES to use her brain and be sensible and see plain facts, even when they are presented to her in a way that makes them UNtwistable (she has a habit of twisting everything to her own uses.)

    My friend is the way you described yourself. She seems to feed off of the negativity as much as she claims to want the opposite. We have been friends for over sixteen years, but I’m at my wits end. She has been like this the whole friggin time. How long am I supposed to just “wait for her to love herself”- because I don’t think that’s EVER going to happen.

    I need real advice, not this useless excuse to ignore it till it goes away (that’s what half of these “tips” seem to be. Just cop-outs to do nothing.). Does anyone know anything REAL that can be done to help someone?

    Oh, and just my luck, she has a therapist phobia. -.-; So a professional is out of the question, even though she NEEEEEEDS one.

  • werfgdsd

    Yeah, or they’ll roll around in it like a pig in mud.

  • Lewis Barham

    I believe the ROI from firstly looking inward and healing yourself is much greater for all parties than trying to ‘help’ someone else. By focussing on ourselves we can become beacons of light and influence others lives far more. I have learnt this lesson having become deeply stressed out with how my parents were managing finances and getting into serious debt. I learnt that the only way out in such a situation is to leave them alone and not intervene at all except show support from afar. For me it’s been difficult as I’m a student living at home and the environment isn’t very positive! Great post.

  • Ashley

    I know this was written a long time ago, but I hope you may still respond to my email. I have a friend who has been my friend for 7 years and I need some advice. Here is the story… My friend, we will call her Sue, was with a guy for 7 years and they broke up about 2 years ago. Afterward, she started having unprotected sex with a few partners. She got pregnant and without going into detail we will just say he is not around and never will be. Sue has no job, has been living with her parents since her daughter was born, and has a ton of cc debt. Recently, she reached out to me for help. I have a background in finance and I think she feels like I have my life together. I was more than willing to help. I wrote her resume for her, had her sit with a friend for a mock interview, helped her find financial help, and made a potential budget for when she finds a job. However, when I don’t do something for her, I have to ask her 20 times to do it. Last night, she came over to pick her daughter up, who I watched over-night while she was out with a guy she just met, I told her about a job opening that a friend of mine has open. I told her to go home and submit the resume that I wrote so this guy could pass it on. She said she would and has not responded to my text asking if she got to it. This has been an ongoing battle and I am willing be here for her, but I feel like I can’t keep trying to push her to do something she really isn’t willing to work for. I am so scared for her daughter and their future and I don’t know what to do. What would you recommend?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Ashley,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what’s going on with your friend. She’s fortunate to have you in her life, looking out for her and trying to help.

    Since it’s been a week since you wrote this, I thought before offering any thoughts I’d ask: have you heard from your friend regarding the resume?

    Lori

  • Vincente

    I’ve been depressed for a very long time, I am in need for someone to love and be loved by. Please I am willingly opening my arms wide for help, please help become a friend to me.

    v.voraigne@gmail.com

  • Anderson

    I am in a very similar situation. I had a boyfriend who could not help himself. Like your friend he had children (although they lived with their mother) and no job, a lot of debt, and no means of supporting himself. On top of that, he had a lot of anger and aggression, which made it really difficult to help him. I know I enabled him a lot. I helped him with bills. I helped him with his legal battles with his ex. I made up for his lack of organizational skills. If something went wrong, I was there to fix it. I went as far as writing him a cover letter and resume and creating an email address with his name so that I could apply for him. I actually got him few interviews! Sadly, he wouldn’t go to some of the interviews or respond to responses I forwarded to him. It was a difficult situation because in his mind he really was trying, but to an outsider’s perspective his efforts were either misdirected or he appeared to not be trying hard enough. He had a lot of excuses about why he couldn’t do this or that thing, such as having a traumatic childhood, racism, capitalism and having children (even though his children were primarily being cared for by his ex). I ended up leaving the relationship because helping him meant subjecting myself to anger and aggression. This was a really difficult decision for me, one which I still feel guilty about. The stakes were really high. I was his only friend and without me he would have undoubtedly spiraled into homelessness. I wanted to help him, but ultimately I couldn’t stand being abused (at least it felt like abuse to me–being a shy, passive person, I felt run over by him).

  • Teresa

    My fiance had an affair. We had been engaged for 13 months and were due to get married in November this year. i found a text on his phone and at first he denied everything and then he admitted it. He has now left and is seeing the girl from work that he was having the affair with. I am devastated, all my hopes and dreams for my future have been crushed. I desperately want him back and i went online for advice where i saw a comment and the email address written on it ancientijebudespelltemple@gmail.com I contacted the temple for help and to my greatest surprise, my fiance gave me all attention that’s due to me and now we are getting married 12th of April. I am so happy for having what belongs to me back.

  • Mark

    We are still in the infantile stages of understanding the human mind. It is possible that some people are unable to change without any fault of their own. We still live in a world where everyone thinks that anything is possible. Nature doesn’t seem to agree. We need more assistance for those who cannot help themselves. Homelessness, jail and suicide are the only options for people who are unable to make change. Needless to say, I do not believe in free will.

  • DN

    Lori, great article.

    I have had a tough journey with my parents for so long … Like how many others cite here, its not about merely being there (which I did, a good 3 to almost 4 decades is a long time) but I had always ‘fixed’ their mess only to see them come back like disease-resistant mosquitoes (just a metaphor) with the exact disease … I realized how fixing is not a solution and have stopped this from my end. I don’t do this to anyone anymore.

    But I don’t stop sharing what I feel are values (seeds) for anyone in general to work on as humbly as possible … and leave it there. There are those who are habituated to draw me to their bygone patterns of engaging me with behaviors that I feel are needless and harmful: I learnt how it is good to leave these folks as they are than suggesting them to recolor esp. when they are comforted by their true colors.

    Back to my parents, I only see how the Divine alone can cater their ways in mysterious ways … I look at these events as ways to strengthen my own faith in the Divine. I make a sincere prayer seeking the Divine to help fill my absence and their own absence too in their lives. This brings peace to me. I have tried so hard, so long and still keep them in my prayers: I get to appreciate myself and leave things here as they are …

    I don’t say I am there anymore for those who wants to be fixed or who feels fixed. I am there for them from within but I choose to stay silent from without with them … I don’t beat myself for only wanting to see them smile and appeased.

  • Peter

    I have a friend who has been living with a verbally/emotionally abusive boyfriend for almost four years, and – as I expected – he later became physically threatening. I recognized her situation as being somewhat similar to one that I had come out of several years before.
    The first thing I did, once I knew what was happening, was to tell her the opposite if what she was hearing at home. This was to gain her trust.
    Then I verbally recognized what she would not: the reson she had not left this situation was fear – the same reason I wouldn’t. Only after I told her what exactly her fears were did she admit to denying them.
    Only after these steps did I tell her how to fix her problem.
    Today, she considers me her most trusted friend because I never judged her. I only guided her through truth with love.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, DN. I’m glad this was helpful to you.

    I absolutely understand the instinct to fix–I’ve been on both sides of this coin. I suspect we all have. I think you’ve found a much healthier approach in sharing “seeds” and then understanding that’s really all you can do. I hope for your parents that they take root!

    Lori