When a friend or family member is in need, it can be hard to watch them struggle. Your instinct is likely to be to offer help. But what if they don’t accept your help?
Standing back and not helping them could result in them causing further harm to themselves. As a result, you need to persist in trying to help them, however, you need to do it in a way that won’t continue to push them away. Here are just some of the ways in which you can help someone that doesn’t want your help.
The person you’re trying to help may come around to the idea of accepting help – in which case they may try to approach you. Make sure that you’re available to get hold of either in person or by phone.
Don’t distance yourself from them. If they’re already engaging in self-destructive behavior, distancing yourself could make them feel more isolated and could make their behavior worse.
Listen without passing judgment
It’s possible that the person in need may already know what they need to do to get help. What they may be looking for isn’t advice or criticism, but simply someone to listen to how they feel.
If the person comes to you and wants to talk, sit back, and listen to what they have to say. Instead of arguing with them, try to empathize with them and show that you’re on their side. This will help them to trust you. Once you’ve established this trust, you may find it easier to encourage them to seek help or you may find that they themselves ask for your help.
Avoid getting angry
It can be easy to get angry at someone in need who is refusing help – especially if they’re angrily dismissing your help and trying to push you away or continuously relapsing into bad behavior (such as continuing to abuse alcohol or run back to an abusive partner). However, getting angry at them could simply drive them away and make the situation worse.
Show that you are concerned and upset by their behavior, but remain calm. If they lash out at you for trying to get involved, refrain from snapping back. Dismiss their insults and show that you’re not going anywhere – their attempts to shoe you away are likely to be a form of self-destruction rather than a genuine attempt to hurt you.
Offer to seek professional help together
Professional help may be required in some situations such as dealing with substance abuse, mental illness, or physical health issues. Some people may be nervous or ashamed of seeking help alone. When you feel you are at a stage that you can offer help, consider offering to seek help together.
Seeking help together could be beneficial for the two of you. They’ll feel less intimidated and you’ll feel more at peace knowing that they have indeed sought help (some people may lie about seeking professional help when left to do it alone). The professional that you’re talking to may also be able to offer you support if their behavior has affected you.
Know when to stage an intervention
If someone is putting themselves in real danger and you cannot get through to them, there may come a point when the only solution is to stage an intervention. This could be necessary if someone is suicidal, being seriously abused, or partaking in a self-destructive binge of substances.
An intervention could involve getting friends and family members together and letting each one express concern before presenting a solution. You may want to hire the help of an expert such as a professional addiction interventionist. An intervention could provide someone with the reality check that they need, encouraging them to get help. At the same time, it could backfire if not planned properly (which is where hiring a pro can come in use).
Look after yourself
Helping someone in need that doesn’t want help can be a physically and mentally exhausting process. It has the potential to create a negative chain reaction in which you then end up becoming the one in need. If you’re feeling depressed, on the edge of burnout, or turning to substance abuse as a result of dealing with your loved one’s struggles, it’s important that you too get help. This could involve talking to other friends and family members or getting professional counseling. Don’t feel that their problems are more serious than yours – you deserve support just as much as they do.