It’s difficult seeing someone you care about hurt or upset. You want to make them feel better, you want their problems to go away. But it can be difficult to know what to do. You don’t like watching them go through this, but too often there’s nothing you can do to fix things.
You want to be a good friend. But it’s not always easy to know how.
REMEMBER THE PERSON BEHIND THE PAIN
Whatever is bothering them, it might seem like the problem is eclipsing everything else in their life. Maybe they don’t feel like doing the things you usually do together. Maybe they don’t feel like the same person. Remember that they’re still in there and don’t give up on them. They just need some time to get back to normal.
LISTEN TO WHAT THEY WANT
Don’t go barging into their problems without talking to them about it first. Don’t try to solve everything without asking what they think is best. Even if you don’t want to meddle, still listen to what they want. If they want to talk, let them talk. If they want to sit in silence, give them time to think.
GIVE THEM SPACE
That doesn’t mean ignore them until their better. Still pay them attention, still spend time with them. But don’t make them talk if they don’t want to. Don’t make them focus on their problem if they’d rather take some time not to worry.
DON’T OVERWHELM THEM
Don’t push them too hard to get life back on track. Don’t force them to take back the pressures of everyday life before their able to handle it. It’s true that they might need some encouragement when the time comes, but they’ll know when they’re ready to carry on.
DON’T GET FRUSTRATED WITH THEM
They know they’re difficult to deal with. They know that their emotions are making them act irrationally. They’re just as annoyed by their behaviour as you are. When they’re already feeling miserable, believing that they’re a burden to their friends only makes them feel worse. They’re well aware that their problems are rippling out and affecting other people. They don’t need reminding of it.
TRY TO MAKE THINGS AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM
Keep calm. Be reassuring. Remind them that you’re there for them no matter what. Help them when they start to let the little things slide. If they struggle to get along with their day to day lives, ease them through whatever slips.
Don’t repeat the same dumb platitudes over and over again. They don’t need to hear you asking if they’re okay a million times when you know full well that they’re not. Remind them to breathe. Help them through their situation with whatever works best for them.
REMEMBER THEY APPRECIATE YOU
Sometimes it might not feel like they do, sometimes it might not even feel like they realise you’re there, but they do. They are more grateful for your presence than you might ever know. They understand that it’s difficult for you to help them when they don’t know how to help themselves. And they’re glad you’re there for them. They’re just struggling to express it properly.
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