One of the most challenging aspects about caring for others is accepting we CANNOT control or change anyone else but ourselves. Our adult child is being abused in relationship, or faces jail time, or is hooked on drugs, or cannot keep a job, relationship, etc. Yes, these things are hard to witness. And no, we cannot make their choices or live their life for them.
Each of us has our own journey in life. That means when we reach adulthood and we stumble, we must choose to pick ourselves up. We cannot do that if someone is there to soften our fall or always pick us up. We do not learn, grow and make positive permanent changes if other people try to do our work for us.
It’s not easy to watch those we care for collapse under the weight of their negative choices. Sometimes we witness this over and over again. But we cannot fix someone. Unless that person wants to fix him/herself, our words will fall on deaf ears and a closed heart.
What we can do is set boundaries to bring a higher level of awareness to the relationship we have with those who are hurting themselves and others. We can focus our energy on staying centered and balanced so when the people we love decide to pick themselves up and change, we are there to support their efforts. That is why it is called “tough love.” Yes, it is hard and yes, setting boundaries against unacceptable behavior is still love.