I have a sincere question for you: Have you ever wanted something for someone…something that would really benefit them…but they’re just not interested?
I’ll bet your answer is “yes”. Let me explain and give some examples:
- You have a friend that doesn’t exercise, eats terribly, and drinks a lot. Their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol are all through the roof. They’re self-destructing, yet they couldn’t care less.
- You have a family member that spends money irresponsibly, and you see warning signs that they’re headed towards a financial cliff. You’ve offered to help but they have zero interest in changing their ways.
- You have a colleague that continues to work crazy-long hours and is completely neglecting their spouse, kids, and friends. You challenge them yet they continue to justify their actions, pushing aside the inevitable consequences you know are coming.
In each case, I think you’d agree…these types of situations are sad. They also have one big thing in common:
You simply want better for them than they want for themselves.
Despite your best efforts and for whatever reason(s), they just don’t respond to you trying to help.
And you might be like me. Even though I know intellectually that I’m not responsible for helping or “fixing” anyone—and that I can’t make a horse drink—I still struggle with this sometimes because I want them to want it.
This has shown up for me in both my personal and professional life.
For example, back when I was doing fitness coaching, I could get someone in just about any shape they wanted if they’d just listen and follow the plan. But did they? Not nearly as often as I would have liked, regardless of how much I tried to create incentives, support and encourage them.
This bothered me quite a bit.
Back then I really took it personally, like I’d let them down somehow or just hadn’t figured out the magic Tetris combination of motivational strategies and techniques to get them to take action.
Today I sometimes experience this with my speaking for Lifeonaire. I’ll give a short presentation to a group and do my best to give them a glimpse of how incredible their lives could look like if they’d embrace our concepts, principles, and philosophy. (I can say this with confidence because I’ve seen Lifeonaire change thousands of lives already – mine included).
At the very end of the presentation I sell tickets to our 3-day Get-A-Life Getaway, an amazing workshop that helps people create their Lifeonaire vision, identify limiting beliefs, overcome fears, etc. It’s awesome. I want every single person in that group to come–and invite everyone they care about too—because I know what it can do for people.
(Note: You should really hear some of the life-changing stories coming from our Getaways lately—you might even consider joining us for one sometime soon, if you’ve not been lately.)
But guess what? In most cases, only a fraction of people typically sign up. And my first reaction is often that I let them down by not convincing them to buy tickets and attend.
…Kinda nuts right?
So what does this have to do with you and why am I sharing it?
Because if you’re reading this, you’re likely someone who is on a path towards something great in your life. You’re learning, growing and investing in yourself and your future. And I want you to have peace and be okay with the truth that many people won’t join you on that journey.
There will be many people we’ll encounter throughout life, people that we care about and want the very best for, that for whatever reason won’t want that for themselves. Whether we’re talking about someone’s health, relationships, faith, finances, business, or something else, we simply have to remember that it’s not our job or responsibility to fix, change, or even help anyone that doesn’t want it or isn’t ready for it.
What is our job? Simply to love them where they are, live as an inspiration of what’s possible, and be willing to help if/when they are ready for a change. That’s it. And that alone goes a long way.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle with this at all? How have you dealt with it? Let’s have a conversation in the comments.
Jason, great article with good questions asked. I learned recently that people do change when it is THEIR IDEA. And they will change when they want it and ready for it. Sometimes in life we do not see our blind sides until something drastic will happen that will make us think, go thru pain and then we make steps toward change. Only you can do be an inspiration and an example for people, be that changed person and then the others will follow! If we want to change somebody, first we have to change ourselves.
Awesome article and comments. I recently read in the 5 Love Language Book that sometimes when we “think” we are encouraging that it can have a negative affect. For example to say something like “You are so smart, you can make a lot more money than at the job you have now” . . . this can actually be perceived or “heard” as “I am not good enough”. Natasha nailed it and the book actually said to encourage them once they come up with their game plan of action. I have read the book a few times but just picked up on this nugget. Ask me how I know.
You’re totally right – you can’t make anyone do anything. They have to want it for themselves. Great insights!
Great point Gary!
Jason, this post floated into my horizon today, and it really hit me that I needed to be reminded of just this. The support we have provided to our grown daughter has become an entitlement to her, and she is much to comfortable letting us take care of what should be her adult responsibilities. We’ve reached the end of our rope, and have given her 6 months to find a place of her own, and get her act together. We can’t continue to support her ever growing demands and neglecting her responsibilities.
I needed this message today to remind me that my helping her is only making it worse because I want more for her and my grandchildren than she wants for herself and her children.
Thanks for writing Lill. Please know that your situation is not unique and many well-meaning parents often find themselves in similar situations. Good for you for addressing the issue and setting boundaries. Sometimes as parents, it’s easy for us to give in to our children because we don’t want to see our kids struggle, but oftentimes this is exactly what they need. They also need to appreciate the value of work and making good decisions. I believe they should always know we love them unconditionally no matter what, but at some point, they have to step up and take responsibility for their life and learn how to be independent. In fact, I believe one of our biggest jobs as a parent (along with loving, supporting, teaching, and encouraging them), is to make them strong and self-sufficient.
thank you so much for this, you are on point with my situation I am dealing with at home. Our grown son is much too comfortable with we helping him and his baby. The mommy past away and I don’t know where to draw the line, taking everything into consideration. he is unemployed, its a pandemic. its a lot of stuff.
Thanks for the comment Jenna. That sounds like a challenging situation and I want to acknowledge you for asking yourself the hard questions. I think helping people when they’re down is wonderful and what makes us human, but we also have to make sure we’re really helping, because oftentimes all we’re doing is enabling. Perhaps some of the things to consider in regards to your son could be: Does he want to get a job and provide for himself and his baby? Is he taking consistent action towards that end? If not, what’s stopping him? Is it the pandemic? Is he mourning the loss of his baby’s mother? Does he feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a single dad? All these are questions to figure out. Once you identify where he’s at mentally and emotionally (and btw a great way to find this out is to talk to him), you can start to develop a plan together that you both feel good about and that truly is helping him get back on his feet.
I took on the raising of my grandson 5 years ago so he could go to public school. He’s been homeschooled and wanted to attend school. He is in his senior year and has issues with subjects that he had ti take to graduate. All year I’ve dealt with missing assignments and I’m tired of his unwillingness to do his work in order to graduate. My relationship with his dad has been compromised and his dad says I don’t need to get stressed out. I do because I don’t want to see him fail his senior year. By keeping him up on missed assignments I thought it would help but its worse. I’m 79 and I want more for him than I feel he wants for himself. Am I wrong!
I’m sorry you’re dealing with this Ann. I admire you for your heart and desire to step and help, even when it’s not your direct responsibility.
At the core of all your efforts though, a question you may want to ask yourself is whether you’re just allowing him to prolong the inevitable and his poor attitude and behaviors would ultimately cause him to fail somewhere else in the future anyway?
What I mean by that is oftentimes when we shield others from the implications of their actions, they don’t learn personal responsibility, and when this happens they’ll often develop a “learned helplessness” and a victim mentality which haunts them.
There’s a difference between enabling and empowering and in this case, where he’s old enough to have some level of responsibility, he may have to taste a little bit of pain now rather than a whole lot throughout life later.
Before you give up hope though, consider a few things:
1. We all had to take what we thought were silly classes in school that we knew we’d never use in “real life”. It sounds like this may be what he’s resisting. If so, try to reframe him on the benefits of the class(es). Let him know that although he may not use it directly, it’s the learning process itself that’s important. He’s “learning to learn” and this is especially useful when it’s something he’s not excited about. It’s easy to learn those things we like. Challenge him and encourage him to step into this.
2. There’s ALWAYS going to be things in life that we don’t like doing, but we have to do for our own good, whether it’s exercising, cleaning the house, or a specific job duty. Getting through these classes successfully is for his own good. He must learn the discipline and responsibility to realize there are things that he must embrace or suffer the consequences.
3. As you address this challenge, always remember to ask questions and truly try to listen. Attempt to understand where he’s coming from and see if you can relate. Find out what’s making him do this? Is there a problem beneath the problem? When you do this he won’t feel like you’re making him wrong or judging him. In other words, if you can thoughtfully ask questions that through answering will help HIM see the implications of his behavior for himself (not you telling him the implications), he’s way more likely to make changes.
Hope this helps!
Btw please feel free to post this great question to the Lifeonaire community in our free app and you’ll likely get lots of great feedback and support. (Click on “App” in the top toolbar).