Sometimes the people we love make choices we don’t agree with. I’m not talking about things like frosted vs unfrosted corn flakes. I’m talking about deeply personal decisions, sometimes ones you think may be dangerous or inadvisable for them to make, but you can’t stop them without making the situation worse. In the best scenarios, these choices are impactful but not truly personal, like moving away for a new job, but often they are intimate, painful and incredibly difficult to talk about. In these cases, you can’t force the ones you love to make better choices, or to automatically agree with you when you think they’re making a mistake. You can only deal with yourself, how you feel, and try to help them understand your point of view.
You Can Only Choose for Yourself
No matter how painful it may feel, your loved one is making their own choices and has a right to do so. Each of us as independent humans must learn who we are and what is best for us through experience and make decisions based on those experiences. Even if you are very close to them, you are not the same person as your loved one. Just like you can’t eat their breakfast for them, you can’t make their decisions for them either. You only have control over your own choices, but this doesn’t mean you’re powerless. On the contrary! It means you have a great deal of influence over the situation, but only as you.
Processing Your Feelings About the Situation
With painful situations, it’s hard to stop thinking about them. A lot of the time, the amount you are bothered is related to your own unsettled feelings about the issue at hand. Many people in your position find themselves lying awake at night worrying that their loved ones, concerned that their unwise actions will hurt them or get them into trouble. Unfortunately, all that worry serves no purpose unless you process it into useful thoughts and actions. When you process your painful emotions regarding a loved one’s choices, you put yourself in a better place to understand them, yourself, and how you might be able to help.
Dealing with a close friend or relative making decisions you think are a bad idea can be frustrating, and sometimes even feel like betrayal but there are ways that you can help yourself and them through personal introspection, counseling, and good communication. Please join us again for the second half of this two-part series as we talk about making a difference in both your thinking and the worrying behaviors of your loved one. If you’re in this situation and would like to talk, please contact us today. We’re always ready to lend an ear and some supportive professional advice.