“The difference between helping and control is that control is help that nobody’s asking for.”
When you’re in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to find the fine line between helping them and trying to control them. Scientist and teacher Dr. Glenn Pickering explains that if you come into a situation and start telling someone what they should do, even if you’re right, you’ll be doing nothing except upsetting them.
“You’ll walk away thinking ‘I don’t get why they’re so mad at me,’ and they’re so mad at you because no one is asking the question that you’re trying to answer.”
How do you help the person you’re worried about without becoming controlling?
The best way to help someone we’re worried about is to share your perspective without telling the individual what to do. For example, if you’re with a friend who just lost somebody close to them it would be helpful to say “I’m really sad for you, I hurt for you, and I’d be glad to pray for you.” But if you say “I’m sad for you, so what you should do is…” then you’ve crossed the line. Dr. Pickering elaborates more on how he handles situations like this:
“What I do is I speak up for what I see and I’m done. By which I mean to say that there’s a difference between discernment and judgment… I can share my discernment; I just can’t share what to do about it.”
It’s fine to share your perspective, but as soon as you start telling people what they should do then boundaries start getting stepped on.
We can find more examples of sharing discernment without judgement by reading about Jesus’ preaching. After he had taught, healed, and oftentimes performed a powerful act he would then say something along the lines of that he was there to teach what he knew and do what he could, and then he told the crowds that they could to listen him or not, follow him or not, and tell their neighbors about it or not. He presented the truth without telling them that they all must follow it; he gave them the option and that’s what we need to do as well. Share your concerns and discernment with the one you love, but then once you’ve said your perspective don’t tell them what to do with it.
“…at the end of the day, me and God have prayer time and God says ‘Did you do what I asked you to do?’ ‘Yes… I saw place I needed to say a word and I said that word and then I stopped.”