There are a few things that define the value of any relationship. Things that everyone can bring to their friendships and relationships to make the people they care about feel secure in the quality of their connections.
One of the most important things a person can be is supportive.
That can mean encouraging someone in their ambitions and achievements. It can mean being there for them when they’re suffering. It can mean being there for them when things are difficult and it can equally mean celebrating with them when things get easy again.
But sometimes it can be difficult to know what choice will offer your friends the most help.
Showing support can come in many forms. It’s important to remember that, sometimes, repeating the same actions in vastly different circumstances can do more harm than good.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that accepting someone’s decision in any situation counts as being supportive. Generally, it is considered supportive to accept a choice that someone has made for their own life even if you disagree with it.
It is deemed to be appropriate to stand by someone no matter what mistakes they make and always be there for them no matter how many wrong turns they take.
But that does not mean that you should blindly accept someone’s fate when you see them steering themselves into bad situations.
Being supportive does not mean allowing people to made idiotic decisions without trying to change their mind. Letting the people you care about be negligent with themselves, or even actively destructive, is not supportive just because you’re leaving them to make their own decisions.
By ignoring someone’s impending mistakes, you’re allowing all the negative consequences to come flying at them in full force.
As a friend, being supportive can sometimes mean disagreeing with them. It can mean telling them harsh truths that they may not want to hear.
You’re with the wrong person.
You drink too much.
You’re being lazy.
You’re in the wrong in this situation.
It can mean helping them to see the difficult but right thing to do when they would rather take the easy path that leads nowhere.
That doesn’t mean you have to impose your thoughts on them, or force them to do anything.
But when you can see someone making bad decisions, it is a far more supportive action to be honest with them about your views than to suppress it. Talk to them, frankly and candidly. Try to help them see things from your perspective and try to show them why you think it’s a bad idea.
As long as they understand that you, as their friend, are looking out for them and have their best interests at heart, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re trying to help them avoid something far, far worse than a little confrontation with someone who only cares about them.
They have every right to reject your input. But if you never offer it, they don’t even have the chance to consider it.
If they ignore you and they make a terrible mess of things anyway, then being supportive will mean being there to help them pick up the pieces and resisting the urge to say I told you so.
But doing nothing to stop everything getting broken in the first place is no way to show support.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.