Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Supporting Someone Who's Struggling

Let’s be honest. We all go through struggles, and we all know someone who’s struggling. It’s a fact of life no matter who you are or where you are. Being around someone who’s in the middle of a battle can be just as emotionally draining for you. You want to help them, but you have absolutely no idea what to do, or maybe you fear you would just make it worse. It can also be so, so frustrating because you might see what the other person is doing wrong, and if they would just adjust one little thing, their situation would probably drasticallyimprove. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it is so hard. More than once, I’ve just wanted to smack the personin an attempt to straighten them out. And people have probably wanted to do the same thing to me.

Generally, hitting someone isn’t the best way to solve a problem (except with brothers—often, hitting is the only solution…). So, here are some of the things that I would try instead. These are things that I have done, and also things that I wish had been done for me when I was in a pit.

First, hugs work wonders. Sometimes you really have no idea what to say, and other times, the other person isn’t ready to hear what you have to say. Just being there for them to hold them while they cry it out is probably one of the best things you can do. Once, when one of my friends was going through a nasty breakup, I really had absolutely no idea what to do. I had never really been in the type of situation she was in. So, I didn’t say anything. I just hugged her, and later she told me that it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. Never underestimate the power of a hug.

Be there for them to hear them out. Honestly, a lot of the time, just talking out a problem can be the best way to find a solution. When you’re listening to them, DO NOT—UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES—try to fix their problems right away. Yes, they probably need a solution, and they might have even come to you for advice. But jumping right in with what you would do to solve a problem while they’re in the middle of pouring their hearts out to you is not the best thing to do. When you do propose some things to try, do it in a gentle and non-condescending way. Yes, they might be messing a lot of things up, and they probably don’t see that. Or, if they’re like me, they see a lot of the things they’re doing wrong, and it frustrates them that they aren’t changing or that they keep making the same mistake over and over. In any circumstance, telling them everything that they’re doing wrong is going to look more like an attack. They’re going to put up their defenses and then you’re going to get nowhere.

When someone is in the middle of a full-blown breakdown or blow-up, especially one that’s brought on by depression, do not try to reason with them. Just don’t. You’re likely going to get mad and say things that you regret. If you sense yourself getting out of control, remove yourself from the situation. Let it drop. Or shut your mouth. Period. Once the other person has calmed down, you can reason things out. But do not ever, ever try to talk with someone who’s right in the thick of things.

 Do not feel like you need to fix everything for a hurting person. Yes, be there for them, but don’t get frustrated if your hands feel tied and you feel like nothing you do is going to make things better. Guess what, it’s not up to you to solve anyone’s problems.

And don’t personalize anyone else’s problems. I have a really, really tough time with this. If someone is taking their issues out on you, recognize that it’s not your fault. Don’t feel like you are the cause of anyone’s problems. Most importantly, don’t let anyone else drag you down. There does come a point when you need to step back, so we don’t have two messes to clean up.

When the time comes that you do need to step back, there is still one thing you can do. You can pray. Prayer is so powerful. Actually, prayer should be a first and last resort. Because, even when you and the person who’s struggling are at a loss, God never is.

If your friend is in a very dangerous situation and could potentially hurt themselves or others, you need to get them help immediately. Again, a hug and a smile can help so much. Remind them of everything that’s awesome about them and how much they are worth to you. If you feel comfortable, pray for them and with them. Finally, if the situation is almost out of control, take them to the emergency room. There are doctors there that can help, and that truly is a safe place for them to recuperate and avoid doing something they will regret.

Just out of curiosity, what kinds of things have people done for you when you were hurting that really helped you out?

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