What To Do When Loved Ones Engage in Self-Destructive Behavior

What do you do if your child has a bottle of bleach in their hands and are about to drink it?

You knock it out of their hands because you love them so much.

What do you do when other people you love, your friends and family are drinking the proverbial bottle of bleach by engaging in self-destructive behavior?

If you are bold, you tell them not drink it.

What do you do if that is unpersuasive and they still proceed to lift the bottle of bleach to their mouth?

Do you resort to physical force? Do you knock it out of their hands? Do you let them suffer the consequences and hope they learn their lesson? What if they drink so much it kills them and they don’t have a chance to learn from their mistake?

There is no easy answer.

Most people choose to avoid conflict and do nothing.

They choose not to challenge the boundaries loved ones have set, even if these boundaries are self-destructive.

But doing nothing is a decision in its own right.

Don’t fool yourself into believing inaction is not a decision.

I believe if we really love and care for someone we have the obligation to intervene and engage in a dynamic process of escalation that adjusts and adapts to the corollary resistance we receive in return.

It is immoral to bite our tongue and withhold a truth that can can enable a loved one to grow.

We must find out if the person we care for is ready to accept the truth we know they need to hear.

Most of the time they will not be ready.

Rarely are the preconditions so fertile that a slight suggestion is enough to trigger a reorganization of motivation, decision and action.

But it is wrong not to give them the chance.

If they do not yield to our initial suggestion we are faced with the tough decision about whether it makes sense to push harder in the face of their resistance or to, in the words of Paul McCartney, “Let It Be”.

This decision depends primarily on the 1) urgency of the situation 2) the extent of damage that will be self-inflicted 3) and the likelihood of continuing to push actually causing a change in behavior.

Again, not acting has its price.

Relationships will inevitably have conflict.

The question is whether we choose to lean into conflict or run away.

Resolved conflicts lead to growth. Unresolved conflicts lead to (contextualized) contraction and withering.

If a relationship has no positively resolved creative conflicts then this relationship likely has no growth for either party.

And relationships are founded on mutual growth.

Relationships where both people aren’t learning and growing aren’t much of relationships at all.

These relationships are merely a farce held together by social mores and former moments of growth.

But it is a relationship no longer.

It is merely a mutually agreed upon delusion propped up by the desire to avoid facing the uncomfortable truth that we have either been wasting our time or that a source of mutual value has evaporated and is one no longer.

But anguish must we feel not.

Life is a process.

With time and space people change and once fertile soil now exhausted, may renew and revitalize as the seasons change.

The hot summer ends. The leaves fall to the ground. And the bone chill of winter rushes in.

But before you know it the saplings of spring are ready to sprout.

With flowers both old and new.

So I say, push.

Push away.

Your energetic polarity will repel those not a match for your present being

and attract ever closer those who you have the most to receive from and give to.

Fortune favors the bold.

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