So often we feel responsible for other people’s happiness (and health), especially when they are family or friends.
Even when their behaviour is is hurtful or self destructive, we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help them to get ‘better’. As a result we get stressed and anxious worrying about them, their stuation or their future.
Unless they are suffering from a condition (physical or mental) that truly prevents them from taking responsibility or care of themselves, we must learn to let go of this feeling of responsibility.
At some point in life, people have to be responsible for their own wellbeing, and if their actions potentially lead them to a place of unhappiness, or put themselves at risk; such as the risk of losing a friendship, risk of injuring themselves, or risk of losing a job … then that is their decision.
Often by settting people free to make mistakes, we are doing them a great service, as it is only when a point is reached that they learn a few truths or gain insight into how their behaviour is undermining their own happiness, that they will start to take responsibility.
It is not an easy thing to do, seeing friends or family in pain and not acting, but often by continually being there when they are in ‘need’, all we are doing is supporting their negative behaviour.
What you need to do is set and communicate clear boundaries of what you are willing to do, while at the same making it clear that they need to take positive steps themselves if you are to support them at all.
There are many disfunctional behaviours that friends and family may demonstrate which make us come running, such as:
… and the list goes on. However, these are things the individuals must take responsibility for themselves. We are NOT responsible for other people, especially when they are not doing anything postive to bring about change themselves.