Ferne Kotlyar

Have you ever had a friend that ended up on the wrong side of the tracks? Have you ever felt like the more you tried to help them, the more distant they got?  

Millie has a good friend Tom, he's a kind guy with a sweet smile and a shy laugh. One day, Tom starts doing drugs. He tries it once, twice, and then starts doing it every weekend. Millie begins to worry about him, but the more she expresses her worry, the more Tom draws away. He doesn't want to hear about her worries or her nagging. Tom stops reaching out and stops answering Millie's messages. Millie didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know how to help him.    

If Millie really cares about Tom, and is ready to be consistent with him, I would suggest for Millie to simply be Tom’s friend. To be his supporter, even if he is doing something she disapproves of. I would encourage Millie to be consistent with Tom and focus on all the things that are going right, be his anchor to a healthier world.

Now, if YOU were in Millie’s position, what would you do? Let us know!

Have you been in any of these two positions? Do you have an interesting case you’d like to share? Reach out! If you want to share your thoughts on this episode or the show, or if you’d like to share your experiences with us, email us!



Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast. And today is Fridays with Ferne, where my daughter Ferne comes onto the show and gives me a case to talk about, work on and discuss.  

Ferne, welcome! 

[00:00:24] Ferne Kotlyar:
Hello, thank you so much for having me! It's always a pleasure to be here.  

[00:00:28] Kim Ades:
So what is the case you have in store for us today?

[00:00:32] Ferne Kotlyar:
All right. So today we have a case about a girl named Millie. Now, millie has a very close friend called Tom and Tom goes traveling for a bit. A bit of business, a bit of travel. And when he comes back, he tells Millie about his trip. And one of the things he talks about is the drugs he started to try.  

So, you know, tried a little ecstasy, a little... I don't know, other drugs. And Millie, you know, she's a big concern, but okay, he's fine, he's back, he's normal. What can you do? You can't change the past.  

So they go about their life and Tom starts to hang out with a bit of sketchy people, and she realizes that he starts to do these drugs as well. You know, he liked it so much, he had such a good time, so much fun. And so Tom starts do more drugs on the weekends and hangs out with these sketchy people.  

And so Millie starts to get worried and she confronts him and she says "Hey, I'm worried about you. I see that you're doing these drugs and I'm worried". And he, you know, kind of blows her off. "It's fine, I'm taking care of myself. Like, I'm going to work during the week. I'm fine. It's fine. It's all good".  

And as time passes, you know, she continues to bring it up and he continues to blow her off. And what she sees is that he starts to distance himself, and kind of stops talking to her, stops spending time with her, just kind of stops answering her calls and messages. 

And she's hurt, but also doesn't really know what to do. Like, does she continue to get involved? Or does she completely let him be and, you know, let him live his life? And she feels a bit stuck because she cares about him, but doesn't want to drive him away.  

[00:02:14] Kim Ades:
Okay. So, you know, it's very interesting because Millie and Tom could be any other two people in the world. It could be a mom and a son. It could be a brother and a sister. It could be anybody. Right? So the question is, what happens when we see somebody we really care about doing something that is self-destructive? How do we show up for them? How do we be? And how do we help them?  

So what we see in this case, and it's not unusual, is that when we're harping, when we're kind of expressing concern, maybe a little bit nagging, what we experience is that other person starts to back off, back away, move away, stop getting involved, stop sharing, stop telling the stories. And they realize that you're, you know, not in favor of this, you're not in approval. And so they don't want to experience your disapproval. So what happens is they back up.  

So, the question is really, what does Millie want? Does she want a relationship with Tom? Is Tom a super important friend? Or is Tom just a friend that maybe they've, you know, kind of gone their own ways and have been, you know, going in different directions now? So she has to decide what does she want.  

If this is a friend that she's okay to leave and move away from, then I would encourage Millie to go and find other friends and socialize with people who are into things that she's into, and kind of take a little bit of a breather from Tom. So that's idea number one. 

Having said that, maybe what Millie really wants is to be very close with Tom. Maybe Tom really matters to her. Maybe he's a childhood friend and someone that she really truly cares about and is concerned about. In that case, I would encourage Millie to stop actually even talking about the drugs and always just be available for Tom. 

So in other words, if Tom is out there doing drugs, don't join him. But be a friend, be available, a nonjudgmental friend, and let him know that you are always there for him if he wants to talk about anything or whatever, that you're there for him. And when you hang out, you don't have to probe, you don't have to dig, you don't have to reprimand, you don't have to tell him you're worried, you don't have to express disapproval. Express your love instead of your disapproval.  

And when he's doing so many bad things and it's hard to ignore, your job Millie, is going to be to focus on what is going right for him that you do approve of. So if he's working during the week, ask him about his work, ask him about his success at work, ask him about how he feels and what he-- and just be consistent.  

And sometimes it's hard for us to be consistent when the other person is not. Sometimes it's hard for us to be consistent when the other person is pulling away. When we have this misnomer in life, in a relationship that it takes two people to tango. Takes two to tango. And so what happens is that when the other person isn't dancing with you, you feel like "well, the dance is over". Right?  

But I encourage Millie to continue dancing, to continue showing up and to continue behaving in a consistent manner regardless of how Tom shows up. So be consistent. You know, in many cases I've seen parents who get divorced and for one reason or another lose contact with their kids. Their kids get, you know, disenfranchised, they pull away, they don't understand what went down, and there's a distance that gets created between the parent and the son or the daughter. 

The parents are hurting, they're desperately hurting and they keep trying to reach out to the child and the child doesn't respond or they respond in an inappropriate, mean, hurtful way. And the parent feels like "well, if they don't want to interact with me, they don't want a relationship with me" and the parent distances themselves. 

And that's exactly the backwards, the wrong thing that... it's not what I want them to do. I want them to be consistent regardless of how the child behaves. Consistently show up and be there when the child is ready to show up with you. So don't go away. Don't accept the behavior as fact.  

[00:06:49] Ferne Kotlyar:
So it's interesting. What I hear you say is to be consistent, all that. But what I don't hear you say is that you have to try to change the person, which I think is interesting because, you know, this person's doing-- someone you love is doing something self-destructive, doing something that hurts themselves, and all you do is you care about them and you want them to be happy and healthy, and you know that this isn't helping. But you never once suggested to encourage them to change, which I think is very interesting.  

[00:07:20] Kim Ades:
Well, she tried that, didn't she? Millie tried to express her concern, tried to, you know, show Tom that perhaps this wasn't the best option. And what did Tom do?  

[00:07:32] Ferne Kotlyar:
Distance himself. 

[00:07:34] Kim Ades:
He distanced himself. He moved back. right? He got less engaged with Millie. So, if he's going to be less engaged with Millie, Millie's ability to influence Tom is diminished. So that's not the right course of action. It's counter-intuitive in many, many ways. But our best ability to influence another person is to consistently see them in a good light. 

And when we see them poorly, they can't handle how we see them. They can't handle our disapproval. And so what do they do? They back out, they back off. So if you really truly want to influence somebody, it's very important for you to see them in a positive light and focus on that positive light. Even if that light is super, super small, tiny, almost dim, focus on the light. 

And so for Millie, you know, she's already seen the impact of her concern. Her concern played a role that was doing the opposite of what she wanted. So for her, she just needs to be... show up consistently as his friend. And part of the problem for someone like Millie is "while he's not being a friend to me, why should I be a friend to him?" We would see that. And if she really, truly cares about Tom, then it doesn't matter what he's doing. She needs to consistently be a friend.  

Alternatively, if, you know, her time with Tom is finished, then she needs to figure out how to let him go and move on to other things and other people.  

[00:09:18] Ferne Kotlyar:
And do you think there's any point at which she should tell somebody else? Like, maybe his parents are still in the picture or a sibling or maybe even the authorities? 'Cause I guess some of these drugs are pretty illegal.  

[00:09:31] Kim Ades:
I mean, you know, it's not her job to turn him in, but if she feels like he's in danger and he needs some help, then absolutely, she can definitely tell someone and say "Hey, I'm concerned about Tom and you know, I want to be his friend and he's been backing off of me. But I want you to know that this is something that's been going on and it's something that I'm really worried about".  

And if Tom gets super mad at her, okay. But again, you know, you and I talk on a weekly basis, but what's very, very important is that Millie has to behave in a way where she feels that she's behaving with integrity, where she feels she's living up to her own values.  

But at the same time, if she wants to have influence over Tom, she has to walk a little bit of a fine line to not insert herself in his life and make decisions for him. He still has the ability to make decisions.  

And so what is it truly to be a friend? Yes, it's to say "I'm worried, I'm concerned", but it's also not to be the one approving or disapproving of your friend. It's the one to be there when things are good and when things are bad. 

[00:10:53] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:10:54] Kim Ades:

[00:10:54] Ferne Kotlyar:
Very true.  

[00:10:55] Kim Ades:
So, Millie has to decide "what's the best thing for me to do for me? So if I never told anybody and something terrible, horrible, awful happened to Tom, would I be able to live with myself?" And if the answer is no, then she needs to speak up.  

[00:11:13] Ferne Kotlyar:
But what if she's worried about losing him completely? She tells somebody, he gets mad. 

[00:11:18] Kim Ades:
Yes, and she has to be able to deal with that in her mind, at least temporarily, because she's losing him anyway. So that threat isn't very high. She's losing him anyway. The risk isn't high, right? She's losing him to drugs. She's losing him to all these friends. So she's losing him anyway. So she has to decide how she wants to play that out for herself. Not for him, but for herself.  

[00:11:47] Ferne Kotlyar:
Do you encourage her to make the best decision for herself and what makes her kind of comfortable with the choices she made?  

[00:11:59] Kim Ades:
Again, like, for me, I like the test of fast-forwarding your life. Where you're looking in the mirror, 10, 20, 30, 80 years from now... 80 is a long time... 50 years from now! 

[00:12:09] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:12:10] Kim Ades:
You're looking in the mirror and ask yourself "did I do the right thing? Did I behave with integrity? Did I make decisions that were consistent with my values? Do I feel comfortable with the choices I made?" And so I encourage Millie to fast-forward and ask herself from that vantage point, what she thinks the wiser Millie... what wise Millie thinks she should do.

[00:12:34] Ferne Kotlyar:
[Laughs] I love that. So if you were to give Millie one last piece of advice, what would it be?  

[00:12:39] Kim Ades:
It would be to be consistent as a friend. If she really truly loves Tom, continue to show up, be consistent regardless of what Tom does or how he behaves. And she has to decide for herself, if this is a friendship that she cherishes and wants to hold onto, or if it's time for her to move in her own direction.  

And so really, you know, some of the questions I would ask Millie is "Hey, how important is this friendship is to me?" And if it's super important, there's one course of action. If it's not super important, then perhaps it's a different course of action.  

And also, you know, how much has this relationship running you down? If it's running you down, then it's not healthy for you. Even if it's an important relationship, then maybe it's time to take a bit of a breather.  

[00:13:30] Ferne Kotlyar:
And what if she feels guilty letting go? Feels like she's leaving him to the wolves?  

[00:13:35] Kim Ades:
Well, it sounds like she's going to feel guilty regardless. 

[00:13:38] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:13:39] Kim Ades:
Right? So... 

[00:13:41] Ferne Kotlyar:
It's one way of putting it. 

[00:13:42] Kim Ades:
Yeah, so we're going to minimize the impact of guilt. Guilt comes from the stories we tell ourselves about what should happen and what we should do and what we shouldn't do. And so guilt gets diminished when we feel comfortable with our decisions. It's very important for us to help Millie arrive at a decision that she feels comfortable with and feels is consistent with who she is and what her values are, and what's important to her. And when that happens, her guilt will diminish.  

[00:14:11] Ferne Kotlyar:
It's important. Well, thank you so much!  

[00:14:15] Kim Ades:
Thank you! Again, another complicated, challenging case. For those of you who are listening, if you have someone like Tom in your life, think about how you are interacting with him or her. Think about how you are behaving. Think about whether or not you are providing a source of disapproval. And if that person in your life is moving away because of the disapproval.  

And ask yourself if you're behaving consistently, and if this is a relationship that you really, really want to hold on to. So think all of those things through and decide what's best for you, what's the best course of action, and what does it mean to behave with integrity in accordance with your values.  

Again, if you're listening and you have a case that you want to share with us, please reach out. Ferne, how do people reach you?  

[00:15:05] Ferne Kotlyar:
Please email me Fernekotlyar@live.com. 

[00:15:14] Kim Ades:
And if you want to reach me, it's Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.  

Again, if you're listening, please like, please share, please send us your cases. We definitely want your feedback. We want to hear from you. Looking forward to seeing you again next week. Have a great week!

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