“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”
One thing is sure, we will all face tough times in our lives. None of us are immune.
While facing our own tough times is bad enough we can also struggle with our role when others we care about are facing their own tough times. What to do. How can we help?
1) Just Be There
As simple as this may sound, sometimes it’s all others need. Knowing they have friends or family there to support them and people that care can be powerful medicine. This support may not even need to be verbal. It’s just you being there.
Being there is a metaphor as well. It can mean physically being in the same space or at the end of a phone or Skype call if you’re far away.
2) Tell Them You Are There for Them
Just being there may not be enough if the person is really struggling through a tough time. They may not have noticed. You may have to tell them you are there. Better yet, follow up with no 3 on this list.
3) Ask Them What You Can Do
If you’re not sure how to help but you desperately want to be supportive then there is nothing wrong with just asking what you can do. Even if your friend/family member says nothing then at least you are reconfirming your support.
You may discount the small stuff that needs doing at this point and want to instead take on as much as you can to get them back on their feet. However, the small stuff as you see it might be big stuff to your friend/family member. Follow through and get whatever they need doing done.
4) Talk it Through
This might be a slow process. We all deal with our emotions in different ways. Some will be ready and willing to talk about their problems and for others it may take some teasing out. Talking it through is important as it means confronting what has happened and starting the process of dealing with it however hard that may seem.
It’s often the first step in a healing process as well.
5) Take their Minds Off It
While talking through what has happened is key, so is trying to lighten the mood if appropriate. Maybe our friend needs reminding of better times.
Don’t be afraid to remind them of a silly story or funny moment from the past. Or something coming up that you have both been looking forward to.
6) Give Them Some Space If They Need It
Some of us just need time alone to reflect a little before rejoining the world during a stressful time. We need time to restock our emotional energy.
Be mindful of this in your role as friend. What do they need? Is it a chat or is it time for a little reflection to let whatever’s happened sink in further? If it’s a little time alone then maybe that’s best just now.
7) Repeat all of the Above
Tough times will always be tough. However, a supportive shoulder and ear will help us all. Do your best to be one of those when those around you need it most.
You can see a recent interview I did for Arise TV’s culture show, This Day Live here where I talk a little about some of the benefits simplifying and decluttering have made to me.
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I also write regularly for the Huffington Post and Medium