When someone you love is acting in a way that is irrational and disrupting to your relationship and also creating difficulties for themselves with other family members, friends and co-workers, a common response is to try and get that person into therapy.
When you suggest this to loved ones, their first response is typically to refuse, saying they are just fine.
Then you may try other methods of getting them to agree to get help, such as manipulating, bribing, crying, pointing out their flaws, using logic and reasoning, begging, pleading and leaving self-help books around the house.
In desperation, you may resort to an ultimatum, “You go to a therapist or I'm leaving you.”
While this may get your loved one into treatment, it is common for them to drop out, because even the best therapist cannot help someone who doesn't want help.
Who needs help?
What happens next is as predictable as the change of seasons.
They tell you they are fine, that you are the one who needs help.
They accuse you of being unreasonable and controlling.
It is normal for you to feel disillusioned, depressed, angry and hopeless when your loved one refuses to admit problems or undergo treatment.
You can replay the above cycle for years — and many do — but the wisest action you can take is to find a therapist or a support group for yourself.
Help yourself now
Instead of using your energy trying to force help on someone who doesn't want it, use your energy for self-care.
A woman I admire did just that and at the end of her therapy, she penned these lines:
“It is my spring. I am shedding the layers that hid me. Fear and anxiety are falling away to make room for courage and independence.
“Confidence looms where it previously was absent. Smiles reach all the way to my eyes. Life is as before … but more. Bigger. Brighter. Bolder. All me.”
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.