Originally published in 2015, this is a message I felt bears repeating.
If a loved-one were in trouble, real trouble, it would not be unusual to feel strongly motivated to do just about anything possible to extract him from the dangerous situation. In many situations this may be the best thing to do. But what if this loved-one has a habit of getting himself into trouble, over and over again? Many people experience this dilemma when a loved-one is addicted to alcohol or other substances.
When we rush in to save a person who, habitually, is in this situation, we silently teach him (or her) that we’ll be there to bail him out and he won’t have to suffer the unpleasant consequences of his actions.
By acting to save our loved-one, we end up shielding him from experiencing the pain caused by his actions; but that pain would provide a strong motivation for him to change his behavior. So, in effect, we are removing the one thing that might actually get our loved-one to change his behavior and to stop harming himself.
It’s excruciating to stand by and not act to save our loved-one. But if, through an exercise of discrimination, we see that doing so actually harms our dear-one, then we might be able to make the hard choice to allow him to resolve his own problem.
He may not make that choice, and may continue down the road to self-destruction. But by experiencing the natural consequences of his actions, at least he has a motivation and an opportunity to choose differently.
Yoga-meditation can help to cultivate the discrimination and strength of will that can enable making the hard choice to allow our loved-one to receive the natural consequences of his behavior. But doing so is never easy.