How to help someone when they do not want to be helped

Apr 13, 2017 | Sufism

We all have people in our lives who seem to struggle a bit harder than we believe necessary. It’s easy to look at someone’s life from a distance and see what they need to do to get their act together. We might offer all kinds of advice, financial support and more, but it seems to be swallowed by a black hole and nothing ever changes.

We pray – “Allah please send your Mercy. Please wake them up so they can see how to fix their lives. What more can I do? I’ve tried everything, but they are just not getting it!”

Sound familiar? Have you been there? But can we fix someone when they are not ready to be fixed? Can we throw them a lifeline when they are not ready to let go of the sinking ship they are clinging to for life?

Here are a few thoughts about this all too common relationship dynamic.

  1. Check your judgment/acceptance meter. We tend to judge others, and the world, from our perspectives of what we want for our own lives. Of course, we want for our brothers and sisters what we want for ourselves, right? But they might not want what we have for themselves. They might not believe they can have what we have, or they might see a necessary tradeoff that they would not want to make, and therefore choose to stay where they are.

    Even if they are complaining, or if you can clearly see they are struggling, even suffering, they might be as content as they are ready to be. And if they are not ready to change their situation, any attempts on your part will appear as judgment, disapproval, and even coercion.

  3. Check your enabling/empowerment meter. Perhaps you’ve been providing support for a close friend while waiting for them to move through a rough spot, but they are not moving. Perhaps now you fear pulling your support would cause them hardship.

    Or, is continued support causing hardship to you? Even if it is not, setting a clear end point and sticking to it could give them the motivation and empowerment they need to make the changes they need to move beyond their current situation.

  5. Check your fear/trust meter. Remember to keep an open heart of love and compassion, and trust in Allah’s plan for you and your friend. No one is outside of Allah’s care. Seek guidance for what Allah asks of you and wants for you. You may want to save someone from living through pains you have endured. However, each of life’s challenges brings with it opportunities for growth and evolution of the soul.

    Each of us is here to learn through our circumstances and come to know ourselves and Allah more completely. Unfortunately, it is the tough times that crack open our shells so we can find what is inside ourselves.

If you are struggling with a friend or family member who cannot see the light that you see for them, give yourself love and compassion. Allow your saddened heart to be watered with mercy. Allah knows your heart, and He does answer prayers. The answers don’t always come in the way we want them to, but they do come in Allah’s perfection and timing.

If you are celebrating a Holy holiday during this past week or the coming weekend, we wish you a blessed time with your loved ones.

In any case, have a beautiful weekend!

With love and gratitude,
Mastura Graugnard on behalf of all your friends and family at UOS