If You're Having a Hard Time, I'm Here for You
If you’re having a hard time, I’m here for you, with all of my attention. I won’t disappear when you don’t need me anymore. I don’t just listen to you out of obligation or offer you my hand because I expect something similar in return. If you’re going through a hard time, I won’t tell you what you want to hear, I will tell you the truth.
We’ve all had a friend or family member who needed a shoulder to cry on. But it’s not so hard to do, right? We even often think that it’s much easier to console than be consoled. But we might not be acting in the right way even if we think we are. We could be making many mistakes that we’re not even aware of, not even when we start to see the consequences.
Never rush when you’re trying to help someone feel better. It could be that all you want is for them to stop complaining.
Listening to only what you want to listen to, offering half-hearted support, giving advice that you don’t follow yourself…does that sound familiar to you? Sometimes when you think you’re helping, you’re really doing the opposite. It’s time to open your eyes.
If you’re going through a hard time, I will listen to everything you have to say
Even though you want to reach out your hand to the other person, you also have your own problems, which can sometimes prevent you from truly listening. Maybe you think that most of what they’re saying is ridiculous, and so you don’t take note of how they’re experiencing what’s happening to them and how it makes them feel. If you do this, you’re making a mistake, because you’re not properly supporting them.
For a situation like this, it’s important to use all your empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t you want them to truly listen to you? What would you want them to tell you? What could be helpful to you in that situation? The answers to these questions will provide you with the information you need on how you can help in these moments.
When you listen, avoid responding with cliches, with words that come out when you don’t really know what to say and the silence is strangling you. “Don’t worry,” “this will pass,” “it will get better.” These are formulaic responses that people say when there’s nothing better to say. But do you know what? It’s okay if you don’t know what to say. You can just listen and ask questions.
Throwing out meaningless phrases and words of encouragement, even with the best of intentions, is barely effective at all.
You don’t always have to offer words of support. You can show your support by being by their side, by not leaving them feeling helpless, by listening to them and making an effort to understand the problem, but not to solve it.
Also, sometimes not doing anything means doing a lot. A simple hug can be much more comforting than scripted, empty phrases. Actions and listening are worth a thousand times more.
You’re feeling down, but I will be honest
When you’re trying to help someone, don’t tell them how to act or how to do things. In most cases, it’s much better to tell them about your own experiences so that they don’t feel alone in what they’re going through. But when you do so, be honest.
For example, imagine that you’re with a friend who’s going through a hard time in her relationship. She had a difficult childhood, and all of her relationships have ended up being toxic. She suffers from attachment and dependence towards the person she thinks she loves. How are you going to help her?
Maybe you’ve gone through something similar, so you tell her about your experience. You even give her some healthy advice on the benefits of being single, spending some time without being in a romantic relationship, going out more with her friends to distract herself and see that she can be happy without a partner…but do you practice what you preach?
Many people give truly good advice, but do the complete opposite themselves, or maybe the advice has a cost that the person receiving it can’t handle at the moment. If you’re going to make a suggestion, make sure it won’t cause that person even more frustration.
If you’re having a hard time, I will stop hearing my own words and listen to only yours.
It also isn’t a good thing to tell them what they want to hear. They’re going through a hard time, but they won’t get much better if you can’t be honest with them and tell them both the good and the bad things. This is the only way you can truly help them. Sometimes, constructive criticism is much more positive.
It isn’t easy to make others feel better, is it? It requires a strong commitment, a lot of your attention, and unconditional long-term support that has no place for lies. All of this can help relieve their pain or shed some light on the situation for that friend or family member who needs you now more than ever.