”How Can You Support Someone You Love When Time’s Get Tough?” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional.
There are very few things in life more painful than watching someone that you care about suffering.
It can be awful to watch some your care about go through something and not know what to do. It sometimes feels as though they’re drifting away from you and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s especially tough if you know that there are things that can help but don’t know how to let them know. People have their pride, and it can be difficult for them to admit when they’re going through a tough time. How can you support them without driving them further away or making them resent you? It can often feel like you’re in an impossible position. But you’re not without options. Here are a few ways to help and support a loved one in need.
Empathize, but don’t pity them
If someone is going through a tough time, it’s pretty likely that the last thing in the world they want is your pity. Pity can make someone feel small and ashamed. If they feel ashamed of what they’re struggling with then, they are far more likely to seek out help or accept your support. Make sure you listen to them. Show them that you really are trying to understand what they’re going through. Just don’t put yourself above them or act like you feel sorry for them.
Suggest things that can help
When someone is going through something particularly difficult, there’s a chance they might not even be able to see a way out. You can offer that to them. Try to guide them towards the support they need. Whether that’s counseling for depression or support for recovery from alcohol abuse. Being able to see solutions that they can’t is one of the most valuable things that you can do. They may have been trapped in this suffering for so long they can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. Being able to take them by the hand and guide them back towards the light is one of the greatest things that you can do for someone you love.
Offer unbiased support
A lot of the time, when someone we love is suffering, our first instinct is to offer up solutions. A lot of the time this is great. It can help them see a way out when they might not previously have been able to. But sometimes, someone might just want you to listen.
If you respond to everything they say with solutions, you run the risk of alienating them and making them feel even more useless. They may well have already thought of those solutions, but what they’re going for makes seeking them out easier said than done. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just offer your support to them without trying to fix the problem. Let them know that you’re there. Try to help them feel less alone. Isolation is one of the most harmful things for someone who is currently going through something difficult. As long as you make sure that they know that you’re not abandoning them, even in such a difficult time, you could well have given them everything they need.
It’s tempting to sugar coat things when someone is going through something awful. To try and tell them that everything’s going to be okay. To say that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Try to resist this temptation as much as you can. It might seem like it will help them but all you’re doing is offering the simplest, most short term solution. Even worse, what you can actually end up doing is minimizing what they’re going through by implying that it’s no big deal. This can often just make people feel even worse, as it suggests that they’re partially to blame for the way that they’re feeling. The best thing you can do is, to be honest with them. Let them know you understand how hard it is. Don’t pretend that working through their problems will always be easy. Let them know that, even though they might have a long, difficult road ahead of them; you’ll be with them every step of the way.
Remember that it’s just as important for you to look after yourself as well. If you’re miserable and exhausted, you’re going to be no help to anyone. Don’t let your duty to your loved one prevent you from taking care of yourself. Making sure that you’re still taking care of your personal well being is one of the most important things you can do.