As humans we are free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.
This is a tough one for alot of people, especially parents I would think. To watch our loved ones who we can see are in painful places as a consequence of their actions, or that their current choices will lead to obvious pain, isn't the most comfortable feeling that's for sure.
Not only can we exhaust ourselves by spending energy trying to convince others to make a better choice for themselves, we are sometimes interfering with the way in which they are meant to learn. Of course there are a million different scenarios but the simple analogy I find myself using alot is how we can tell a child ten times not to touch a hot stove, but sometimes they need to actually touch the hot stove and experience the burn in order to learn and understand for themselves. It is only then that they will choose never to touch a hot stove again.
Even though our intentions are well and good in attempting to prevent that child from burning their fingers, we've just exhausted ourselves by telling them repeatedly what we know will ultimately cause them pain, then we get mad because they didn't listen. Sometimes things need only be said once or maybe twice and then we need to trust that human to rely on their own senses. By attempting to 'save' another person from something we can so obviously see will ulitimately hurt them, we prevent them from using and building their own intuition and life experience to become who they came here to grow into.
We don't know what another soul's purpose is. So if someone who's soul chose to come into this life to help addicts for instance (whether that be alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, etc.), that person would have likely chosen a path of an addict. That way they would have the opportunity to experience a 'bottom' and therefore have a choice to help themselves heal and get strong, so later in life they could help others do the same. People tend to better relate to others who've had similar experiences as opposed to someone who's lived a charmed life but has a degree on the wall.
One of my biggest lessons in this life has been to know when to go out on a limb to help someone. It's taken me a long time to know when to shut up and watch a situation unfold, even if I can clearly see someone I care about heading for pain. I can offer to listen and offer my spin on things but most people don't want to hear. They want to experience for themselves. I have literally exhausted myself in the past trying to help others from obvious bad choices (meanwhile I was making my own pretty bad choices!! haha).
People who love me have also at times exhausted themselves attempting to convince me not to do something. I wasn't listening because I needed to learn my own way, and while I appreciate the concern, that energy could have been better spent on themselves.
I think our power lies in using the energy we so desperately spend trying to convince others to make better or different choices, to make ourselves better and make better choices in our own lives. There's no greater way to teach or help others than by walking our talk and teaching by action.
Letting go of wanting to control the choices that people in our lives make, is actually the best gift we can give someone. The freedom to walk their own journey and learn how they are meant to learn in the time frame in which they need to learn. We only have power over ourselves. This doesn't mean we don't care, we can still be there when they fall, to listen, advise and assist if they are open to that.
The tricky part is knowing when to advise and when to walk away! If we find ourselves around people who continuously make the same painful choices and continue to complain about the same painful consequences like a broken record, it might be time to walk away and save your energy. They are choosing the victim role because it's familiar to them and they do not feel they deserve better so continuously choose the pain because that too, is familiar for them. Maybe we are in a similar pattern too but are so busy trying to help them, that we aren't looking at us! Only they can make better choices for themselves and only we can make better choices for ourselves If we find ourselves sticking around and feeling sorry for them every single time, we are enabling them, and we are feeding our need to be needed.
We can all be there for each other in healthy and supportive ways, only when we are supporting ourselves in healthy ways : )
Peace and Love Freely