Supporting the people you love can be tricky. On one side of the coin, there’s a tendency to give unconditionally and this can be a beautiful thing, however…on the other side of the coin is where unconditional giving can turn into a cycle of enabling.
The best way to support someone you love is with real life, actual, tough love, as it was intended. Just enough love and just enough tough. If there’s too much love, it can turn mushy, if there’s too much tough, it can turn mean.
In truth, from employment woes, to fear of the future, to relationship panic, I’ve never done a damn thing on my own. I’ve been lucky to have the support of my family and good friends. I’ve had fantastic mentors that have pushed me to my limit and then held me in my exhaustion. But the key what that there was the pushing before the holding.
Recently, I’ve witnessed a completely failing version of “tough love.” A friend of mine, we’ll call him Bert, has trouble with procrastinating. If you’ll remember, this is something I have quite a bit of trouble with too, and so I’d like to believe I’m a good amount sensitive about it. Bert is a highly intelligent human being but he’s having trouble finding a job in his field.
Part of this trouble is from a lack of opportunities and a scary job force. However, the other part comes from his procrastination which is rooted entirely in fear.
When Bert complains to me about feeling behind in life, about needing to get it together, I know that telling him that he should just do it won’t work. I also know that consoling him too much won’t help either.
I have watched his three roommates give him unending crap about his situation. Making jokes at his expense but always making sure he knows they’re “just kidding.” Just kidding is bullshit. The constant ridicule still hurts him.
On the other hand, I watch his fiancé baby him, telling him he can’t help but be stuck where he is. There’s nothing he can do. It’s not his fault. This is also hurtful it just doesn’t feel as much like hurt on the outside layers.
Bert needs the push and the holding, from the same people not separate groups. Encouragement and accountability. He doesn’t need a bully or a mommy.
So whether you’re the friend or you’re the person who’s stuck, remember that support is important. It’s support-ant…? Be kind, be respectful, be tough, be harsh and show love for the people you love.
Give them the tough and the love.
Best of luck!