Tough Love Or Plain Unsupportive: Do You Really Know The Difference?

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When someone you care about is going through a hard time, you want to ease their pain. You do whatever you can to help. But when you don’t see the results you were hoping for, you think it’s time for some tough love. And that’s when things get tricky, because a lot of us confuse tough love with being unsupportive.

First off, we begin on the wrong foot by trying to help someone in a way that works for us, not for the person in need. So we are not really being very helpful at all, are we? Where tough love means to be firm and honest yet loving, we have made it into an excuse for being unnecessarily cruel. No, really.

We forget that we are all wired differently – techniques that work for you may not work for someone else.

Even though we are aware of this subconsciously, we stubbornly go on to use them anyway. When this backfires–and it does more often than not–we actually wonder why. It’s not rocket science – statistically speaking, just how many times do assumption and guesswork give good results?! Sometimes, I just don’t understand how us people make such glaringly obvious mistakes and fail to notice them. I mean here I am writing this article and I am still very guilty of doing this even today. And I am sure I am going to repeat this mistake a couple of times in the future as well.

So what does help? You have to know a person’s primary love language, personality type, mental blocks to reach out to them and enable them to get out of the hole they are in – be it the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, etc. For example, if an introvert friend has been fired from a job they loved and they cannot stop mourning it, you cannot react in the same manner as you would for an extrovert friend. Your introvert might just want someone to hear them out from time to time and here you are trying to invite them to events your extrovert would appreciate. As long as you do this, your poor friend will only feel alienated and uncared for. Keep it up long enough and eventually, they will resent you and you will grow apart.

If you really want to help someone heal, you have to know them well and help them in the way they need to be helped.

It’s okay to step back a little so they can stop leaning on you so heavily and try to figure out their problems on their own. What isn’t okay is “trying” to get through to someone in a random, impersonal way. The former is tough love. And the other is being unsupportive.

Tired of the stigma associated with mental illness?

Tired of the stigma associated with mental illness?

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