It’s hard to watch a loved one do something that decimates their self-worth. As an outsider, you can see what’s going on, and you want to jump in there and fix it for them. They’re so in it that they don’t have the objectivity to see what’s going on. And maybe, possibly because you have experience of their situation, you’re trying to protect them. Or, at least you want to.

But they might not be receptive to it. Or, they are, but then, for instance, go back to the emotionally unavailable person they’re in torment over. Perhaps they stay in the job they’ve complained about since the day they started there, a few years ago.

And depending on how long this goes on or how much they lean on you for support, you might start to feel frustrated and resentful.

It’s not necessarily that you expect them to always take your advice, but a part of you might wonder what’s the point in having these conversations and them asking for your advice if they’re not going to do anything.

Sometimes a person wants to vent or, yes, complain about their situation, but they don’t want anything to change at this time.

And let’s be real: we’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another, possibly about the exact same thing that we want our loved one to heed our advice.

Sometimes our way of relieving the tension of whatever we’re going through is having a good old moan. It might be that we want to feel seen and heard by someone we know cares about us. We are, however, sometimes guilty of what I call ‘dumping and charging up’. This is where we sound off about something and gain support so that we feel energised… to go back and do the very thing we complained about.

It might be that we’re invested in the problem and committed to shooting down solutions. Like when someone complains about their job for months or even years on end and then when we suggest next steps or ask them why they don’t leave, they look offended or tell us about how hard it is to get a job, etc. Yes, humans are funny creatures. It’s also easy when we’re not in something to see it as ‘easier’ to go when that isn’t the case.

That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, though, when someone is clearly unhappy about something and seeking our support and not heeding any advice.

But remember: no one is obliged to take your advice just because you give it.

This means that you have to be mindful and boundaried about giving advice. You have to know your intentions and be aware of your limits.

Just because someone complains about something, it doesn’t mean you have to offer up a solution. You could just listen. Or, you could do what I learned to do and say ‘I’m sorry to hear that. I really hope you get it sorted out soon’.

In fact, have you considered asking them if they want your advice before giving it? It’s amazing how many of us feel frustrated and resentful about loved ones not taking what is actually our unsolicited advice.

And if you feel as if they have to take your advice, it’s a strong indicator of a need for clearer, healthier boundaries. If anything, it’s letting you know that you need to step back a bit. That maybe your own stuff has got a bit tangled up in this. Us humans are fond of trying to control the uncontrollable. It’s possible that there’s an element of that for you. Maybe you’re trying to spare them from a lesson they need to learn. Perhaps it’s a bigger thing for you than it is for them.

When you’re mindful and boundaried about giving advice, you break out of any roles.

We only feel resentful when we’ve obliged ourselves into something that isn’t an obligation and that we could have made a choice about. Resentment is also the result of unmet expectations and the other party not playing the role that fits ours.

For instance, for me, that mindfulness removes me from the role of agony aunt, peacekeeper, diplomat, the over-responsible one, helper, healer, fixer and saviour. I don’t always have to be The One With the Answers, and I also don’t always have to be ‘strong’.

It also helps if you’re honest about where the frustration, resentment, etc., come from. Aside from the fact that you might simply be exhausted from playing a role in the relationship that you don’t have to play, you might feel that your own issues are unheard and unseen. It might bring up feelings of invalidation or that your advice and support isn’t appreciated. Hell, it could be that their situation is pushing on your buttons about something similar. Whatever it is, figure out the baggage behind it.

But it would also be remiss of me not to put out the obvious thing here which is that you may not have the bandwidth for your loved one’s repeat complaints. And that’s OK. Ignoring your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing means ignoring your needs. You don’t need to do that. Make sure you haven’t obliged yourself into acting as if you have to be ‘strong’ at all times or taking on everyone else’s stuff.

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites