Charlene asks: How can I help a friend make and follow through with life changing decisions without interjecting my feelings and thoughts?
What a wonderful question, Charlene. I want to start by saying you can not make anyone do anything, you can only support and love them where they are in their own process. Having said this, I would ask you to let yourself off the hook for their choices, and not choosing is a choice.
Secondly, it is rare that anyone truly wants someone else’s opinion. Most people are very attached to their own opinions and the stories they tell themselves regarding these opinions. This is true for you and this person you are referring to. Your power lies in recognizing your own thoughts and feelings as your own, and be willing to understand they may or may not be relevant or accurate to the other person. I would encourage you to start by saying: I recognize I am feeling (insert a feeling word such as sad, scared, irritated, disappointed, etc.) when it comes to my friend and his/her situation. I keep telling myself that if only he/she would (insert your opinion here) things would go better for them.
Yet, I now realize that he/she has their own way of looking at this and their own feelings. I will never know the depth of their pain. Knowing this, I will now send them love and wish for a happy outcome. If I am ever asked my opinion, I will give an honest answer, and allow for my friend to do as he/she wishes.
In this exercise you are taking full responsibility for your feelings, opinions and recognizing that their issue is not your own. In this you allow the other to make the choices that they deem necessary even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Be loving and supportive no matter their choices, and take care of yourself by not getting overly involved in the situation. If you need to keep your distance until it is settled, that is okay too.You’ve got this, Charlene!
Licensedcounselor Tracy Becker answers your questions.
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