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Attention: The information provided in this forum is intended for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
When Not to Save Your Friend
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
It hurts to see friends in emotional pain. So, for most of us, we have a gut level response of wanting to help. While feeling compassionate and trying to help are essential parts of friendship, there are times when it is best not to jump into action.

For instance, you might choose to limit your help if you are already at your limit of what you feel you can do in your life. Going past this limit might lead to you both "drowning," which, of course, helps no one in the end. Also, you might not be qualified to help your friend beyond assisting her or him get to the right professional, such as a therapist for a depressed friend or a financial advisor for a friend in debt.

As much as what I'm saying might make sense, it can be very difficult to tell someone that there are limits to the help you can offer. You might struggle with guilt or your friend might be angry with you; and so you might need to reassure yourself that you are doing the right thing.

Have you struggled (or do you struggle) with situations in which you aren't "jumping in" to help your friend; or in which you have, but think you really shouldn't have?

If you would like to read more in detail about this topic in my The Art of Relationships blog, click here .

Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

dfromspencer responded:
Once again, another fine read! Thanks Dr. Leslie!!!

I came to this realization when I woke up, or came back to my senses! I was the one who always needed help. I was the one always asking for something. Be it money, or a place to stay, whatever. It was me, I was that friend!

And one day it finally dawned on me, I was the one who had to help myself! There was no friend in this world that could ever help me, if I couldn't help myself, too! There is a point all friends come to. If its money, they can only give so much, then they themselves may be hurt. I found that out. I found out that friends can only do so much, then they have to let you sink or swim on your own!!! I sank till my toes stuck in the muck of my life! It was then I decided to fix myself.

Sometimes, we cannot help our friends, no matter how much we love them!!! There comes the time they have to sink or swim. They themselves have to have that awakening! We can't do that for them, no matter how hard we wish to!

I learned that lesson the hard way, but learn it I did! And now, I will always think of that when dealing with my friends. Should I help them, or let them sink? Sometimes, sinking is better than swimming! I am living proof of that!!!

Thank you, Dr. Leslie, another wonderful topic!!!

Take care!


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