Loving someone who makes poor choices is hard. We feel incredibly vulnerable. We don’t have control over what our loved one is doing. And we’re afraid of just how bad it can get.
The more vulnerable your loved one is, the harder it is to watch the fallout – real or imagined. You feel helpless. And it’s precisely this helplessness that leads you to step in and become over-involved.
What has this got to do with your growth? It’s all about your boundaries. Your self-regard.
Over-involvement robs you of your ‘self’. You stretch your boundaries, hoping to feel safer. You react rather than choose. You take on what isn’t yours. And you miss the deeper learning that is here for you.
When your loved one is truly vulnerable, the urge to step in can feel like the right thing to do. You want to tell them what to do. You want to do it for them. You want to stem the tide of bad consequences so they don’t hurt – and you don’t either. But there is another way. The one that enhances your agency and theirs.
Learning to co-exist and dance with space between you restores that precious balance. When you’re not burdened with misplaced responsibility, you can love from a deeper place. You can know in your heart that your loved one is free to grow and own their own journey. You’re doing the hard work of letting them learn and evolve. You’re allowing them to love you rather than need you.
How do you do all this when every part of you is hurting:
1. Shift your perspective
- If I’m not the person to help them, who is?
- What learning is here for my loved one?
- What learning is here for me?
- What gets in the way of me allowing my loved one their own agency? Their own journey?
2. Practice self-compassion
Forgive yourself for having such strong feelings. It’s terrifying to love someone wholeheartedly and watch them walk straight into more hurt.
See your feelings as a reflection of your love – not your failing. Comfort your fear. Soothe your grief. Soften and allow this whole experience inside of you.
3. Set boundaries
Know what belongs to you and what doesn’t. Be clear about what you want to say ‘yes’ to, and what you definitely want to say ‘no’ to. Setting your own boundaries will actually help your loved one move forward with more clarity.
4. Clear up any misunderstanding inside of you
Love is not about overserving. It’s about respectful coexistence. It’s about reaching across the divide with an open heart. Being together.
Allowing each other the space to develop agency and autonomy.
Is there anything more loving than that?