As a registered psychologist, I occasionally receive requests from a family member or friend who would like to schedule an appointment for someone they care about. Due to the ethical regulations of my profession I do need informed consent to connect with any adult who is not a legal dependant. At times, the person for whom the concern is about may not be aware that their loved one is calling on their behalf. If this person is an adult, their own legal guardian, and they are unable to unwilling to seek support, there is nothing I can do to force them to be open to therapy or change. Side note: If someone contacts me directly, that is not a problem, as they are reaching out themselves.

But I do feel for the pain of loving someone deeply and feeling powerless as you watch them struggling, while they are unable or unwilling to make a change or to seek support. I have been there myself. Even with my experience and knowledge base there are times when I am in the same boat when it comes to others that I care deeply about.

We cannot force anyone we love to change, but here are some ways we can help while still taking care of ourselves:

Continue to help in ways that feel good for you and open your heart. Let go of responsibility and pressure for the ‘right’ outcome. We can only do what we can do and we cannot live someone else’s journey for them. That is not our job. This does not mean we do not care, we can still connect deeply from a place of love and respect. But the path of another is theirs and theirs alone, it is not up to us to walk it for them. There are also times where we may need to take action, such as if someone is in a really bad place and we have real reason to be concerned for their safety or the safety of others.

Get clear on what is helping from a place of love and support and what behaviours are actually out of fear, are enabling unhealthy patterns for the other, and that are not a sacred yes for ourselves. It hurts deeply to see a loved one struggling, whether it is with Mental Health concerns, addictions or in any area. However we also need to get clear on what is actually helping the person and what is harmful in the longer term.
Taking over for someone else, covering for them and protecting them from the negative consequences of poor choices is likely enabling the troubling behaviour to continue. This can lead to resentment and betrayal of ourselves when we do not respect our own boundaries. We can set boundaries from a place of love and compassion. But, true love does not mean we do what others want us to do, when it is not in alignment with our values and inner wisdom. We can have deep love and compassion and still say no.

Have honest conversations with the person you love. If they are unable/unwilling to participate or receive such communication write a letter to them that you don’t send, and set your intention to communicate with them at a soul level. Get out everything you wish you say so you can release it for yourself and heal your end of the relationship.

Above all send them love and connect to the part of them that has the ability and capacity to manage whatever comes their way. Trust in the wisdom of their own soul’s journey and the part of us all that knows that there are things we do not fully understand on the physical, mental and emotional levels. Send them positive intentions and blessings.
It does make a difference, the research on the positive effect of prayer have shown this to be the case.

What have you found to be helpful in remaining connected to loved ones who are struggling while still taking care of yourself?