Doesn't it just drive you mental when you're watching people make choices that you just know are going to have disastrous results? They might have asked your opinion and if you respect them, you'll have been honest with them (as tactfully as possible).

You might have offered your opinion without being asked (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your relationship) - and there's never a guarantee that it will have been heard, but that's not up to you. At least you tried.

Despite obvious negative consequences, some or all of which may even be acknowledged by these people, they continue on their destructive path, rushing headlong into some nightmare or other, ignoring the wisdom of anyone who might have had anything to say on the subject.

And there you are, standing on the sidelines, bound and gagged watching someone you love or care about, careening down a steep hill on a bicycle at an insane rate of speed, and you're just waiting for the splat!! when they hit the brick wall that's waiting at the bottom.

It's natural for us to want to fix things for the people who are important to us, to prevent them from being hurt or making mistakes and winding up in some kind of trouble.

But the truth is, experience is the best teacher. If people don't 'get it' from thinking about the consequences of their actions, the only way they'll figure it out is to go through it.

They'll have learned something about themselves (or will repeat the lesson at a later time...a bigger ouch each time, until they learn it), and they'll have learned something about you, too, that you do have a clue, that your judgement is sound - at least sometimes.

They'll have learned that perhaps it's wise to at least consider the opinions of others who have an interest in their wellbeing.

It's especially awful when it's your children who are making these frightening (for parents) choices and ending up suffering the consequences of their foolhardy actions.

But no matter who it is, we can only do our best to guide, suggest and direct. After that, all of us have the right to choose our own paths, no matter how difficult they might ultimately be.

It could be said that there are no mistakes in life, only opportunities to learn. And it's true that experience is the best teacher. I know it doesn't feel like that when we're helplessly watching loved ones heading for a crisis but sometimes, all we can do is be there to support and encourage while they pick up the pieces of their lives.

And thank heaven, we're there to do it.

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