How you too can be a pillar of support!

  • Kylaila
  • 07/13/2015 07:49 PM
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Today: Supporting Someone

Someone is feeling down, got hurt or is working through a really difficult problem. You care about them, but you have no idea what to do, nor how to make it better.
You think about the right words to say but you cannot find anything befitting the situation.

Sound familiar?

What often happens is that trying to find the best way to support someone, or the best words to say, we end up getting dumbfounded and do little at all. We may even end up feeling bad ourselves.

We do not like seeing someone down. We want them to be happy.
Yet at the same time it may make us feel uncomfortable, and that will not help anyone.

Let's get something clear:

At the end of the day - whatever it is - they have to endure it by themselves.
Whatever sadness they feel, whatever problem they face, whatever just happened, it did not happen to us.
They are the ones fighting on and hanging on.
And right now they are in a weak place.

This may sound negative at first, but realizing this is actually really liberating.
We feel pressured to "do something about the situation" when there is no way of doing so, and we also want this uncomfortable situation for us to stop.

We do not need to solve the problem. In fact, we cannot solve the problem.
You can feel comfortable that you are still feeling with them, but that it is not your problem to shoulder.
The closer you are to the person, the harder it is to not get too emotionally involved, but the stronger we are in the situation, the better we can help.
It is perfectly fine to stay high energy instead of going down to the low of your friend while you hear them out. Bringing us down may make them feel guilty.

What we can do is help them get back to their stronger self so they can then figure it out themselves.
So how do we do that?

1. Show Kindness and Support FIRST

Before anything else. Before asking questions about what exactly happened.. show that you care. Give hugs, say you feel sorry to hear that, say you wish all the best. Any form of loving and caring will do.
Any wording will do. Just put it out there. Even if you do not know what to say, saying you do not know what to say is valid!

In a weak state, love and energy is what one needs the most. Any form of positivity.
Having your support right away, they can now talk freely about what just happened.
At worst, asking away before showing support can feel like they need to justify themselves when they should not need to. Or feel like they are not supported at all, or feel like you are not on "their side".

2. Listen. Hear Them Out.

Ask what happened, then let them talk, let them rant, let them vent.
Letting emotions out is very important, and in an emotional state advice is simply not what one needs. Just being there for them to clear their thoughts and their emotions is helping a lot!
Let them calm down and then you can do some more talking and ask about details.

3. Show Encouragement

After all is said and done - be positive for them. You know they will work it out, and you know how strong they can be. Think of that, believe in that.
And maybe, just maybe give advice if there is room for it and they are really calm and open (look forward to my next article for that!).

It does not really matter what exactly you say - you are here to show you care, to listen and to let them get it all off his chest. Emotional situations and distress will need to be expressed and vented so they can be let go.
This is not about solutions, solutions come afterwards, after they calmed down and cleared their head. They are the ones who need to make them, after all.

If there is something they really have to do, want to do and are putting off - then by all means, give them that push. Just be sure that it is what they want themselves to do.

And if there is someone relying too much on your support, then it is okay to distance yourself a little bit. It will urge them to seek support from other places as well. You come first - if you feel you are exhausting yourself, step back. You cannot always be strong to support another. Sometimes you may need to walk away.

It will need practice to stay calm yourself, but it is definitely possible to not get invested into these situations. It is possible to stay in a strong place yourself, and to help your friends even better as a result.

Practice and you too can be a pillar of support! Go forth and show your friends and loved ones you care!