Comfort: Balm for the Soul

Giving comfort to others is a part of being human. It means alleviating another's pain and making them feel better.
Comfort: Balm for the Soul
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 27 June, 2022

There are times when you feel sad and unhappy and need to take refuge in another. Then, someone comes along and gives you a hug or shakes your hand and that seems to ease your emotional pain. In fact, comforting is an act that relieves your pain and also makes the giver feel good too.

When you see someone cry, you tend to have an automatic impulse to offer them help, even if you don’t know them. It seems that seeing someone in tears awakens in you a strange protective instinct and you know they need help.

This need to help each other is due to our condition as social beings. We need each other to survive. That’s why, when life punishes you, to cushion the blow, you seek in someone else a balm to relieve your pain.

Learn how to comfort others

Woman comforting another with a hug

Although it may seem extremely basic, knowing how to comfort in an effective way is important. There’s no magic formula, but there are a series of guidelines to take into account when offering your help to another.

However, you might find it uncomfortable to face the suffering of another because you don’t know how to act or behave. Or, in your eagerness to help others, you resort to phrases or gestures that, far from improving, actually worsen the situation.

The most important thing is knowing how to listen to others without judging them. Make them see and feel that you care about them and want the best for them.

“The greatest object in the universe, says a certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity; yet there is a still greater, which is the good man that comes to relieve it.”

-Oliver Goldsmith-

Specialists recommend discarding phrases such as “Don’t be sad” or “Don’t cry”. As a matter of fact, crying is sometimes necessary and has a beneficial effect as it allows the pain to flow.

Empathy and closeness

Empathy is another resource that helps you to comfort others. Indeed, it’s a positive step where you put yourself in the place of others and think about what you can do to help without being asked.

Empathy prevents you from asking too many questions and weighing the other person down, as this isn’t particularly practical when you’re trying to comfort them. You simply need to convey to them that they’re not alone at this difficult time.

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”

-Alfred Adler-

Physical contact is also extremely positive when it comes to relieving another’s pain. Caressing, hugging, or holding hands with them while you listen or they listen to you, reinforces feelings of closeness and security.

Learn how to comfort yourself

Girl giving each other a hug
Unfortunately, you don’t always find a shoulder to cry on to relieve your own sadness. Sometimes, you have to face the ups and downs of life alone. In other words, you must seek your own comfort.

In these circumstances, you have to dive inside yourself and find the necessary resources to overcome the situation.

Crying is allowed, but you must also seek distraction and refuge in those activities you enjoy that make you forget your sadness. Walking, reading, painting, playing with your pet, or playing sports are some therapeutic options you could try.

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”

-Steve Maraboli-

Comfort, whether given to others or to yourself, is an act of generosity. Alleviating someone’s sorrow begins by not leaving them on their own. It means accompanying and understanding them. Giving and sharing. This is the art of comforting.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.