I have a few friends, very good ones amonst them, that suffer from low self-esteem that leads them to lack drive and evergy in both everyday and professional lives. Over the years, I tried to help and encourage them in various ways, like helping with job applications or university matters.
Until here, this issue has been discussed here on ips several times. However, by now I unfortunately feel that it is not just a lack of trust in their abilities. It is also an objective lack of abilities, and hence, they have a reason to not feel up to tasks. Several are stuck in jobs or even areas of work that are just plainly a bad fit for them. I feel that this is a self-amplifying pattern: Since they lacked trust in themselves and their abilities, they had problems studying or at work, which led to less fun with those activities, which in turn led to less routine in doing them and so on.
The problem areas range from work across studying into managing their private lifes.
So, me and some colleagues tried in various ways to coach and encourage them. It did not work out, we mostly felt like all our suggestions were just politely nodded away and never tried. Even during very concrete "let's get this done together" scenarios, the friends in question would not really participate but only do the barest minimum, retreating from the job at hand as soon as possible, all the while complaining how they aren't happy with their situations.
This is getting to a point where it is affecting myself. I have a young family and enough on hand as it is, and I feel like I am surrounded only with people that I am helping, while I feel that I myself still have a lot to learn and would like to be surrounded by more mentor-like personalities. I can only do so much with time-management before completely losing contact with said friends. And I feel I am too young to stop, intellectually, just because my family, friends and neighbours need me as a parent, counselor and helper.
So, my question is, how could I (and my colleagues who have not yet given up) encourage people in their 30s and 40s, suffering from low self-esteem and lack of happiness, that do not seem to react to attempts at helping them with concrete measures? At the same time, how can I manage to help them, keep in contact with them, but also put myself in a position of learning and intellectual advancement again?
Background and contextual info: First of all, sorry for the throwaway account (I think the reason for using one is pretty obvious). This is happening in a central European cultural context, but some friends come from Eastern Europe and some from Latin America. Many have a religious background, I am agnostic. Our professional background is technical / knowledge work, and we've all attended universities. We're at the initial / intermediate stages of our careers.