It can be crippling to watched a loved one, be them friend or family, struggle with their lives. Whether they’re just having a rough few days, or whether they’re genuinely beaten down, it’s crippling all the same. As an on looker, one that cares about them, it’s painful to know that you can’t really help.
Sure you can give you’re advice, but they need to take it, and, at the end of the day, maybe you don’t know best. Maybe the positive mantras you try to tell yourself don’t work for them. Maybe by trying to help, you belittle their problems; they feel you don’t understand their issues at all. And maybe you don’t.
Everyone is fighting a hard battle. Everyone’s lives are hard for them, to some extent. Some lives are objectively harder than others, but unless you’re living that life, most likely yours feels hardest to you. So how do we help each other then? How do we go from sitting by watching someone struggle to being a positive impact in their lives… There’s a few ways.
Firstly, we understand how they wish to be helped. Maybe this person is coming to you for advice, but then again maybe they just want you to listen. Maybe the most helpful you can be is by letting them talk; simply being a shoulder for them. Sometimes advice helps people feel worse, believe me I know, and it can be frustrating for both of you. Judge the help they want.
Secondly, encourage. What I mean by this is help them to feel positive about moving forward. Support them. Encourage the positive behaviours, the things that make them smile. We respond well to positive enforcement, so use that. Never get annoyed at them for feeling the way they do, and if they find something that helps (and it’s something that does help, rather than providing the illusion of help) encourage them.
Thirdly, and most importantly, work on yourself. This might sound selfish, but when you’re happier and better, it’s better for everyone around you. If a loved one is feeling depressed, and they come to you for help, you won’t be much help if you too are feeling down and out. Sometimes this will happen naturally, and that’s ok, but where possible we work on ourselves and hope they follow. By being positive and upbeat, maybe it rubs off, or maybe it just makes them smile for a few minutes of the day. Either way you’re helping and it’s important to note that whatever helps, be it something big or small, still helps.
Be supportive. Don’t get frustrated. And mainly be the best you that you can be. Someone that they can rely on. Someone they can turn to no matter what.