No, I can’t help your wife. No, I can’t help your mom. No, I can’t help your sister, friend, or co-worker.
I can only help you.
You see, coaching someone through divorce, or at all, needs to come from a person’s desire to get help. If you push help upon them because you think they need it, they are not a willing participant.
You can suggest and you can guide, but you cannot make someone change. Just like in marriage, they have to want it. Not for you, but for themselves. I write this because this week has been full of help seekers. Only the seekers are the well-meaning family member or friend.
Anyone can have a transformative life. It is so easy to talk about it, write about it, and teach it once you have been through your own transformation. But those writings and teachings fall on deaf ears unless heard by a willing participant. There are hundreds of thousands self-help books out there that describe transformative wisdom. Their readers are willing to take a self-reflective look on their lives and take accountability for their own happiness.
The reason coaching or counseling works is because the people that actively seek it out are willing to do what it takes. They hit rock bottom and will do anything to get through the pain that they have experienced in their lives. They are seeking the wisdom of others. They know they are not alone. For whatever hardship they have endured, someone before them has endured it as well and wrote a book about the experience.
Some people refuse to look within. They prefer to forever remain a victim. They thrive in their victimhood and prefer the attention of others to the much needed attention of themselves. A victim mentality means they blame those around them for all their sadness and misfortunes in life. The wife blames the inattentive husband, the woman blames her own mother for her low self-esteem long into her own adulthood.
You can’t help a victim by feeding into their victimhood just like you can’t help an alcoholic by providing them with just one more drink. We usually excuse their behavior because it is easier to just appease them then to stand up to them.
The only way to help a victim is to hold up the mirror that they refuse to look into. Lovingly ask them a clarifying question that repeats their lamenting statement that they made to you. If you do this with genuine love and curiosity, it might just make them think inwardly about what you said.
I just spoke with a man who desperately wants out of his marriage, and has for years. But his wife is basically starving herself to death. She had a legitimate medical condition that caused her to lose weight, and she used it to keep her husband close. She used it to make him attentive toward her. The medical condition is gone but she insists she still has all those same symptoms as if it was still happening. She is trying to trap him to be attentive toward her. She has succeeded in part of it, he certainly feels trapped. To this man, I said, “I cannot help her, I can only help you.” It is the help seeker that is a willing student.
True happiness and peace is granted to those willing to look within themselves and then shed some light on their inner secrets, regrets, and hidden shame. Expose yourself to truth. Once you start living a life anchored in truth, it will truly set you free. You no longer worry people will find out you were a fraud, pretending to be what you aren’t.
Living life in lies, blame, shame, and victimhood only perpetuates more of those things. Hiding in the darkness will only make you feel more alone. For those who do rise up, overcome, and become willing students, I celebrate you.
I see you, I hear your story of pain and resiliency. You are a hero for living through the pain and learning what you needed to make it a positive force in your life. Transformation occurs when we hit a rock bottom. Suddenly, all the shame and blame in the world couldn’t make our lives any worse because it is truly rock bottom. Then, and only then, do we see that all the shame, regret, and blame in the world… does not matter.
Now you are able to put it behind you and live your life as your true self, the authentic perfect being that you are. Seeking life lessons to grow, learn, and love from. You are accepting all others with love as imperfectly as they are.