What To Do When Your Friends Are Making Bad Life Choices
We all make mistakes, sure. But sometimes there are people in our lives that are making bad life choices. So what can we do as their friend to influence them?
I wrote a previous post about how to “tolerate people”. I recommend checking that out first to ensure we’re all on the same page here because it’s important to understand how we got to this serious question I’m about to tackle. It’s called How I Tolerate People and Their “Issues” (opens in new window for you).
Okay, so you tolerate your friends and you expect them to have some issues. But there is a limit, there’s always a limit guys. It’s one thing to agree to disagree and walk away. It’s another to watch someone else make serious mistakes. Especially someone you care about and are close to.
Where is the limit? Personal boundaries can vary widely from person to person. Sometimes you find those with short fuses and some with long ones. I have a seriously long fuse guys, it takes a lot to get me upset and I tolerate a lot before I get to a point of being upset. So my limits on those around me, are pretty far stretched because of… Well, you’ve read the previous post.
The limit is when someone is being seriously hurt, emotionally or physically.
People are hurting emotionally much of the time. And when we are distraught we’re distracted. Distracted by everything else going on. People are going to make mistakes within this stressed mindset. Many times stress and drama can cause some to have high anxiety or depressive tendencies. Which may further reduce one’s ability to make decisions, let alone good ones. Sometimes it’s best to leave them to make some mistakes, and learn from them. But sometimes enough is enough and you need to take some action to help them. To help them themselves or to help others surrounding your life.
If there’s nothing that’s going to kill them and you struggle for words because you know what you would do… But you know they won’t listen. Then hold your tongue.
Remind yourself that you learned this for yourself and they will learn their own lessons in their own way. Give it time. Try your best not to speak out of turn or from a place of anger or resentment. Remember that your past is not at stake here. Your friends’ reality is their own.
If there’s nothing that’s going to kill them and you struggle for where to start because you know what you would do… And you think they will listen, or are are asking for your guidance. Then let it out!
This is where you must realize that you too probably asked people for advice. It’s what we do when we’re struggling and admit that we struggling out loud, usually to someone we already trust. So if that person is you, the person that they trust. Do them right by telling your story. Give them an honest opinion on their struggles and explain what you would do if it was you.
When you find out someone is in danger or about to be…
There will come a time when you become the bearer of bad news. Or when you find out someone is in danger already or is about to be. The first thing to do is identify the persons involved. And those who are closest to them. You may or may not be the right person to take actions to help the person in danger. So don’t consider your self the have-to-be hero.
But in every incident such as this, you cannot and should not keep it to yourself. Even if it’s someone you dislike, you must take further action to help them. Period.
I’m pretty zero tolerance for violence. Especially when there is abuse or bullying involved. Hurting someone intentionally to “teach them a lesson”, is never acceptable to me.
Bottom line is that you can make a positive difference. So make that choice to help them.
You can make a difference by being someone willing to listen, (and keeping your mouth shut so people can learn for themselves). By giving advice when your asked your opinion. Being truthful about your own experience in a way that someone can relate to your lessons. And by taking action and asking for help when some is being hurt. If you expect that someone would do the same for you, then you must not stand to tolerate violence or abuse when you see it, hear it in person, or hear of it from someone else.
The Serenity Prayer is a good reminder to follow.
There’s always that guy who doesn’t take it well…
There’s a risk involved when you decide to speak your mind. When enough is enough and you decide that you are going to communicate the problem whether it be a friend, roommate, family member or coworker. Sometimes you just know it has to be you. And you must take a stand. Whether it be against someone’s opinion, action, rude behavior, bad parenting, etc.
Make sure you are fully justified to be taking that stand.
- Check yourself and make sure you are not out of line or fired up because of a personal problem that should be communicated (with love and understanding, not anger).
- If you decide to come at someone, be sure you a have all your points practiced. Meaning, you’ve identified the issue and have good examples of the wrongdoing to give them (prove it).
- And finally, you must be a respected party. If you expect to make a difference to someone’s life you must be a respectful person. So that when you talk, they hear you.
- You can be sure that you are a respected person by not speaking out of turn, not meddling in their personal matters (unless necessary, like we’re discussing), and having valid and logical opinions on a regular basis.
For example, if you know that your friend is not paying their house mortgage and are in danger of losing their home. You want to say something to them but are not financially smart yourselves. Then you probably aren’t the person they will respect in this department and it’s better left alone. They are aware of their stupid money mistakes and so are you. Address your personal life so that you have a success story to share, “If I can do it, so can you.” If that person comes to you like, “Hey you really need to make a budget,” with their mortgage being ignored. You wouldn’t feel like that was helpful, you’d probably feel insulted. Right?
But even if you are that well-respected person… Some people are just not going to take it well. They aren’t ready to admit their mistakes and faults to themselves, let alone someone else. And you have to know that that’s okay. People are allowed to react. It may take some time before they process their mistakes and wrongdoings. Allow them that time (if you can without injury or harm to others) and take a step back for a while. You can explain that this is something you can not and will not support. That you will be removed from their life for a time, to allow them to address their life.
Patience is key to making a difference in someone’s life. Trust that they have to ability to understand, in time. And that if it’s meant to be, then they will return.
Remember this, someone who doesn’t have the ability to understand your point of view isn’t someone you need in your life. They cannot benefit you right now. Not until they figure out their own struggles and start to make better choices for themselves.
You don’t have to take it in just to take it on. Do not let people pull you down to their level. Rise up and above.
Don’t feel bad if you have to cut someone out of your life. If there are people in your life that you don’t want to tolerate, then don’t. People that are negative to you, or toxic to those you love. Release them from your life!
Let go. If they can’t benefit you because of their own selfish lifestyle or behavior, then save yourself and your family the trouble. They have too much to learn and especially if you’ve tried to help them and failed. Then that’s on them. Hold no remorse.
Live Life With No Regrets!
Have you ever had to cut someone out? Take action to help someone who was hurting or in danger? How do you feel about your reactions and choices? Leave a comment below.
My final thought on this has to do with how to use how you feel to influence your decisions. Both positively (with love) and negatively (with hate).
Ask questions like:
Do I feel happy or sad when I’m around them?
Do I feel anger and resentment towards them?
Why do I feel this is unacceptable?
What happened to me in the past makes me feel so passionate about this?
Doing so can help you decide why, how and when to take action when you know someone who is making bad life choices.
Trust your intuition. But question your opinions. Why are you so inclined to disagree with your friend?
One last question fellow human…
Do you KNOW that they are wrong? Or do you THINK you know they are wrong because you have been wrong in the past?
Chances are if you’ve read this post, you are struggling with whether or not to confront someone you love about their actions. I wish you luck and that they are understanding with your caring heart. Know that you can leave a comment or message me on Facebook if you would like some further advice on your particular situation. My door is open fellow human.
If you know in your heart that it is not your place, then back down. If you know in your soul that you are angry, then calm yourself and walk away. If you know in your mind that you are wrong but you disagree with something else they have done, then address that issue instead. Do not fixate on what you cannot change. Let go and let live. If you can help, then help them with love, understanding, and respect for your fellow human. If you cannot help them with love, then do not justify your anger. You cannot help anyone with anger or frustration. It will only make any issues engorged and inflamed.
Thanks for reading this one guys. I know to hear from you in the comments. When did you have to intervene in someone’s life?
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Have you ever had to get involved in your friends’ bad life choices? Comment below to share your story!
Related Book and Recommended Read:
If your interested in knowing more about how to deal with people, I highly suggest reading the famous, award-winning book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends & Influence People. It will definitely reveal some huge insight into how to influence people in your everyday life. The do’s and the dont’s. A life-changing read!
This post has no sources, I am not a professional, counsoler, or pyschologist. I’ve always been a people person!
I am writing from personal experiences. Please read my disclaimer.
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Message me on Facebook if you’d like further guidance with your personal situation.
Thanks!, Lee Bowden (author)