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Life throws colossal curveballs our way which is always a test of mental resilience. This could be the loss of a partner, or a friend. A break up, family issues, or a particularly challenging situation at work.
Sometimes when you are the person others rely on to talk to or listen to their issues, it’s not always very straight forward. It is sometimes difficult to know how to give that level of support.
We’ve got some simple tips that will help guide you through these sometimes quite difficult conversations, especially when you are speaking to someone who is feeling vulnerable. You want to make sure that you give them the best advice you can.
Listen in a non-judgmental way
When someone is finding it difficult to cope, their mind is racing and are most likely feeling highly anxious it’s always better to listen without becoming judgemental. If this person is worrying about something you see as insignificant, take a step back and try to see it from their point of view. Telling them to stop worrying isn’t going to instantly stop them from worrying, but could make them feel self conscious. Most of the time, you don't need to say anything, listening is such a strong antidote.
Be there, but don’t overwhelm
When people are going through hard times, chances are they aren’t going to be at their chattiest. Sometimes just being there and giving them the comfort of your presence without the pressure to actually be doing or saying anything is so powerful, and a true sign of a strong bond.
Don’t make anyone feel like a burden
Your objective is to support, and care. The moment the person you are trying to help feels as though they are a burden, they are less likely to open up and talk about what’s wrong. Let them work through issues, in their own time and on their own terms. Keep calm, and assure them that they are able to just be themselves, which involves patience from both you and them.
Take ownership of smaller worries
When you’re at a crisis point in your life, the smallest things can become overwhelming. In everyday life these things may seem very small, like taking out the bins, booking a reservation or picking up some bits from the shop. But, to the person who is suffering these are worries that can be taken out of their lap for a short period of time. Remember what might seem really insignificant to you could be the biggest hurdle for them.
Keep them busy
When someone is going through an intense and difficult time in their life, sometimes their self care can slip, because usually their heath goes to the bottom of their own to-do list. Encourage them to get out of the house, even if it’s just for a walk around the block, or popping to a local cafe for a cuppa - a change of scenery is good, and allows focus to shift.
Keep your own behaviour consistent
This person you are helping is feeling emotionally vulnerable, and is going through some life turbulence. It’s very important that you as the anchor keep your behaviour consistent, stay calm and always try to kind even if at times they can come across unreasonable. You know that they are only lashing out because they are hurting.
…Time for you
This isn’t in the list of tips because you should always be doing this. Being the support to someone is necessary, but can also be very draining. We are caring beings, and it’s within most of us to help those we are close to, but you can’t own it all. You also need a break, and to know where those boundaries lie.