Regardless of our chosen field, or the manner in which we use your gifts, most of us have come across people in our lives who absolutely refuse to take responsibility for their actions, their situations, their own lives. It could be a family member, a dear friend, a co-worker, even a spouse. These are the people we may care most about, yet, even if we're the very best at what we do, there's no amount of “try” that will change a thing. You know it. I know it. Sadly, they do not.

It is, perhaps, one of the most frustrating things to encounter, especially if you've made your own great strides in becoming more of who you are. When we've come through our own storms and seen, from the other side of that storm, just what we accomplished, exactly how much “more” we are now than we were before the storm, it can be very challenging indeed to keep one's mouth shut. It can be the greatest challenge of all when we see how much pain someone we love is in, and not have a stitch of power to do anything about it. The very best we can do is hold a vision in our own minds of that person well and happy. Beyond that, it's all up to them.

As someone who has managed to ride out a host of her own storms, it's much easier for me to see that it's not my job. It's not my job to pull someone out of the wreckage, particularly if they want to be there. No amount of wisdom, kindness, patience, love, tolerance, going to change their mind. Because, the bottom line is: they're there because they want to be.

Sad. But oh-so-true.

It has become equally apparent to me that the worst thing I can do in such situations is to enable. Another very slippery slope. Enabling comes in so many forms, often we don't even realize we're doing it at all. We want to help. We want to see their suffering end. We want to hand over all the tools we've gathered along the way, in an effort to ease their struggle. We want to see them happy. Every time they come to us, with their sad, sad story, telling us about their pain and how we just “don't understand”, we want to shout “OH YES I DO!” All for naught. They're not going to hear any of it. Why? Because they want to be where they are. If they didn't, they wouldn't be there.

Sound harsh?
Is it truth?
Yes. It is.

Sometimes we may even apply the 'tough love' method. We may offer up all we have and then say, “You know what? When you're ready, give me a shout. I'll help in any way I can. Until then, you're on your own. Gotta go. See ya, bye.” And then...disappear. Don't call back after that long-winded message or that horribly pitiful email. Don't answer the phone at 3 a.m. when they call you drunk and sobbing. Don't respond in any way whatsoever. Just leave them be to weather that storm on their own. Tough love? You betcha. Does it work? Sometimes.

Other times, not so much. Other times they show up again, sometimes after years have passed, and they're right where you left them. Sobbing and drunk and whining about how god doesn't love them. Nobody loves them. They're not worthy of love. They're hopeless. They're stupid. They're BLAH BLAH BLAH, ad nauseam. Holy Buckets! Can it be that this person has spent the past 2 years wallowing in that pity party and is still 'alive'?

Yes. It can be. And often times, the reason they're knocking at your door is because everyone else has abandoned the cause and they've nowhere else to go. What to do now?

Back when I believed I could fix anyone, when I had my own god complex, I would spend hours and days and years on such 'projects'. I was convinced that my wisdom, along with my love, could save them. I was convinced that if I tried hard enough I'd be able to show them just how worthy they were. I was utterly blinded by my own Ego's pride, unable to see that all I was doing was keeping them from learning how to find their way. As the saying goes: 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink'. One of the truest adages I've ever heard.

What to do?


Remember that the only way for anyone to grow is to let them. Remember that you are not their god. Remember that their path is their own and they must walk it alone. You may be able to meet them along the way, at various cross roads, to encourage them to keep going. To give them a dose of love and a big ol' hug. To give them a smile as they continue on. Other than that, it is not your job to save them. Truth is, you can't save them. Why would you want to? Do you not think it would retard their growth? Do you not think it would, in the long run, force them to revisit this place? Do you not think that your own passage through the storm made you who you are now?

In the Tao Te Ching, there is a passage that says (in essence) 'no storm can last forever'. (yes, that's the short version, but you get the drift). And it's true. Even the most furious hurricane or the most devastating tsunami can only last for so long. And wears itself out and disappears. Eventually. What makes us think that the same does not hold true for us? What storm can last forever?

Me thinks it is a very good practice to let people sail their own ship. To allow them the freedom to experience what they need to experience. To hold them closely in our hearts, but let them sail on their own. Because every time we intrude, we're just joining that pity party. And we're not doing them a bit of good when we do. Let them be. Let them grow. Let them learn about their own power. Otherwise, all you're doing is prolonging the inevitable. How can that be 'good'?

Author's Bio: 

Camille Olivia Strate is a writer, critter mama, and blossoming being who lives to experience the Joy. Her latest book, "Whispers ~ The Often Subtle Sometimes Rowdy Voice Of Truth" is now available at