Yogi Approved, Guest Author Meg Hartley, 2017
We all know the struggle. Do you know someone who’s hurting? Do you want to help, but fear it’ll create drama in your own life?
Whether it’s a health problem, a heart-wrenching breakup, financial woes, or any other struggle, we want to be there for our friends. These tips could help!
Hard times will test your relationships, and it’s all too common for people to find themselves facing the struggle alone. It happens to the best of us: we want to help, but distancing ourselves from friends in the thick of it is, unfortunately, the societal standard.
Why is it So Damn Difficult to Help a Friend Through the Struggle?
Friends have distanced themselves from me when I needed them, just as I’ve also been guilty. A friend of mine was struggling with serious health issues a few years ago, and it took me six months to call. I still feel remorse for not being there for her. So why do we do this?
The struggle of others can trigger our own unprocessed emotions and also bring up fears.
The struggle of others can trigger our own unprocessed emotions, and bring up fears and all the behaviors that fear comes with. Sometimes struggling friends are spiraling out of control and, especially if you aren’t currently close to that person, it feels like a good time to draw some boundaries.
But then there’s the other times.
The times where someone needs and wants help. There’s a specific problem, the person knows it, and they’re looking for solutions. In this situation, we have an opportunity to truly be of service to someone, even if all we can do is simply listen.
When we help others, we feel empowered, capable, and meaningfully connected. These are opportunities that remind us that no one can do it alone, and that no one should be expected to.
Here are 5 Things to Remember to Help You Support a Struggling Friend
From someone who’s been on both ends of this pickle, consider these tips to help out a friend in need.
1. Be Cool
Emotional conversations can be stressful, so try not to come off anxious. Plan to meet up somewhere safe where you can really talk and bring up their struggle.
Before you meet up, think about what you’d do if you were in your friend’s situation.
Do they have a quality support system? Is there any way you can help that you’re comfortable with? Be prepared with solutions if they’re available, and be ready to listen.
2. Stay Positive
If applicable, share a similar struggle of your own and describe how you got through it in a positive way . . . but don’t glamorize it. Sometimes people define themselves by their struggle and think it makes them more interesting, and you don’t want to encourage this.
Be understanding, but gently guide your friend back to how they might fix/heal the sitch when the conversation circles back to the pain. Stay solution-oriented, which might mean helping your friend seek out professional help.
3. Bring Friends
This isn’t something that needs to be done alone, and it’s likely the kind of problem that could use multiple perspectives. If you bring someone else, be sure the person is a close mutual friend, or maybe a professional who can help in some capacity. This person needs to be trusted.
Oh, and don’t make the company a surprise. Make sure your friend knows you’re bringing someone else.
4. Don’t Judge
When your world collapses and you aren’t handling it well, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. Make sure you provide your friend relief from that, and take some time to reflect on how awesome they are before you see them.
Make it clear that you’re there to help from a place of zero judgement!
5. Check Yourself
Check in with your own emotions before you see your friend. Does their struggle trigger you? Pay careful attention to your thoughts and feelings, especially afterwards. If you’re severely triggered, it’s best to seek out your own healing before you help your friend.
6. We All Struggle, So Let’s Have Each Other’s Backs
Deep, emotional conversations are easy to avoid. We have our own sh*t to deal with, right? The thing is, helping a friend through their struggle may be what you need to figure out yours. Space away from your own problem is where you wind up feeling empowered to solve them.
When you’re there for a friend, you develop meaningful, lifelong relationships. Also, if you haven’t yet had your hard-knock times . . . you will, I promise. And when you do, you’ll want to have a friend by your side.
Thanks for your bravery and compassion, and good luck!