Help needed

Sometimes the people you love need help to get them through emotionally tricky times, but this isn’t always as easy to provide as you might think. All caring friends are willing to listen to problems and offer advice, but occasionally things become too much for a non-professional to fix – so how do you continue to provide support when it becomes clear that you don’t really know how? Listening non-judgementally is the trickiest thing when you’re speaking to someone close, as you’re probably going to be slightly biased in some way, but is it still possible to help out? I like to think it is.

The solutions I’ve found online cover active listening, encouraging the seeking of professional help, and encouraging self-help strategies – including exercise, relaxation, meditation, support groups and spending more time with friends/family – but it all seems to be quite specifically aimed at certain issues. Where do you go for advice on how to deal with any and every emotional crisis? Will all suggestions work in all cases? Whatever the underlying reasons for needing support, it’s often easier to do in person and that’s not always a luxury we have these days. In these days of keeping in touch relatively publicly via Twitter and Facebook, a personal email, text message or even a phone call can mean a lot. However, I’m still wondering if there’s anything else I can do, other than simply saying “I’m here for you if/when you need me”.

5 thoughts on “Help needed

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  1. I think knowing someone is there is important and helpful- also, asking “do you need advice, or just to space to rant?” because not everyone wants to be given advice, sometimes they just need their whinge! I'm also a big fan of encouraging healthy eating and drinking water, it helps a lot of emotional issues.

  2. Listen.

    Don't offer solutions, ask open questions, and listen. Most people, regardless of the issue, know what needs done it's just that it's hard.

    Talking about the issue will help make it 'smaller' and maybe help them break it down into smaller chunks still which can be tackled bit at a time.

    But, ultimately, make sure they know you are available and listen. Really listen. (Bloody hard to do well).

  3. Keep asking. Don't say “I'm here if you need me” or even worse “You know where I am if you need me” because the other person almost certainly won't put what they want from you on the level of “need” even if it truly is. Say “I'm here” and remind at intervals “I'm still here for you”. People are often reticent to talk about real problems unless they know you are ready to receive that type of conversation. Particularly, they will have learnt to respond to “How are you?” with “fine, good, ok” because 99% of the askers of that question do not want a real answer.

    Once you're actually in a listening situation, Gordon puts it well.

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