Sara is going down a dangerous path with her eating. Bob is using pornography. Richard lost his job and is feeling hopeless. Nancy wants to move out but is afraid to be alone.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated because you see the need for someone to change, but don’t know how to help?
Many of us just want to “fix” the situation and tell others what to do. But that approach rarely works.
Here are five tips that will help motivate someone you care about to change.
- Listen and then encourage. If someone only needs a pep talk, listen first and then offer words of encouragement. You can help problem-solve if that is needed, but ask before you launch into suggestions. What doesn’t work is minimizing the problem or avoiding it all together.
- Offer to be available. So many people need someone to trust, to talk out life problems and simply give them their time. Be that go to person. Basically, you show someone you care by your availability and investment in them. And your availability is also accountability.
- Affirm the person and his/her strengths. Play to the positives. This doesn’t mean you ignore the depth of the problem, but help the person focus on their personal strengths that help during a time of discouragement. We also forget about God’s help when it comes to change. When we are weak, He is strong. So, remind the person they aren’t facing change alone and also ask, “What have you done before that has worked for you?”
- Give hope. We cope better when we know there is something to hope for in the middle of a struggle. Sometimes that hope involves developing character, becoming more intimate and dependent on God, looking at the bigger picture, or resting in the assurance that all things can be used for our good.
- Take the cue. If the person rejects your help, don’t continue. You are probably pushing too much or the person isn’t ready for change. Instead ask, “What do you think you need? What has helped you in the past? When you have tried to change in the past, what worked?” If they aren’t ready to think about change, empathize, ” I see how difficult this is for you. This is really bothering you. I hear how much this is affecting your family. What do you think you should do?”
When someone struggles, the temptation is to problem-solve for the person or tell the person what to do. To motivate change, the person has to be in a stage of change that is ready for action. Getting ready means to see the problem as a problem, work through the pros and cons of making a change, preparing for that change and then taking action.