You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.

Jade Lake - Chateau Montelena - California - Lead a Horse to Water

You can give someone an opportunity or you can show them a path, but they must choose to take it for themselves. This saying also fits well with trying to helping someone. You can give them all the tools and resources, but if they don’t want to help themselves, they won’t.

For some people who feel an innate need to want to help people succeed in life, this can be hard advice to fully internalize. It’s understandable that we want the people we care about to have every opportunity and to be healthy and well. But sometimes we lose sight of the fact that just because we want these things for them; it doesn’t make us the authority of their life or know what’s best for them. They have every right to refuse the opportunities, resources and tools we present to them. It’s their life, and they set their terms on how they live it.

If you are having trouble accepting this, know that all we can do is meet people where they are, show them a path and be an inspiration. We cannot control them and if we try to, we will push them away. People don’t like being told what to do with their life. Just think about how much you don’t like it when people tell you what you should do. Respect them and where they are on their journey. Leave the door open for them if they want your help in the future. Continuously work on being the best version of yourself so you can be an example to others. Be open about your failures and how you deal with them. Focus more on connecting with that person than focusing on what you feel is best for them and their journey.

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