We all have good intentions when it comes to giving advice and trying to console our friends during difficult times. I struggle with finding the right words to say, and the right things to do. I often find myself stuck between what I *think* I should say, and saying nothing at all. What do you say when someone tells you they just found out they have cancer? What do you say when someone lost someone close to them? What do you do when your friends are going through a break-up? In these moments what you say/do matter, and can be powerfully transformative .
PSA: It is important to let go of your ego when someone reaches out to you for support. It is important that you validate their feelings. It is important that you listen to understand, instead of listening to respond. Repeat what they are saying back to them to make sure that you’re receiving what they are saying correctly, and it also helps them to know that you are really listening . Help them explore their feelings about what is happening before you give your own advice.
Side Note: Refer them to my blog! I have a great blog on How to Get Through What You’re Going Through. Sometimes you won’t know what to say or what to do, so guide them to me, I know 🙂
1. Listen– I think often we listen to respond because we are so eager to give people this knowledge that we have on what they’re going through. Or we have been through a similar situation, and so we think we have the solution, and we so badly want to give it to them. Our intentions are good, but they may just want someone to listen. Allow them to feel, and experience all their emotions.
- ” You’re not alone”, it’s you and me against this illness”
- “It’s not your fault”
- “This is what I hear you saying…”
*Stay away from cliché sayings like “everything happens for a reason”, and “time heals all wounds” * ( no one really wants to hear that )
2. Encourage Them- Inspire them to shift their perspective on what they’re going through by asking questions, not my intentionally telling them to, but by asking questions that will lean them in the right direction.
Have you considered looking at this situation differently?
What is holding you back from letting this go?
What do you think is triggering this feeling?
Remind them of what they’ve already been through and how they got through that. Remind them of their strength, their wisdom, and their purpose.
Positive Affirmations : You are strong. You are smart. You are worthy. Remind them of who they are!
3. Let Them Know They Are Not Alone – It is easy to be with friends during the easy times, it is easy to show up to Sunday Brunch; Don’t be the friend that has an ‘errand’ to do or is ‘too busy’ to be there during the difficult times. Value your friendship.
How I check myself on this is, I say to myself:
“What would I do if my partner was in this same situation, what is it that I would do for them?”. We have to value our friends the same way. Would you buy them flowers? pick up their favorite food? pay for their massage?
Do the same things for your friends, most likely they have been in your life longer than your partner, and deserve the same empathy and compassion.
4. Be Proactive- Sometimes when you ask your friend “What can I do for you?”, they’ll reply with “nothing”, because they don’t know what they need. That’s where you come in. Bring them a home-cooked meal. Help them clean up. Invite them to church. Create the Go Fund me. Take them out. Just be there for them.
Instead of saying , ” I want to be there for you as much as I can”, say something that shows commitment and integrity, “I am here for you, I am praying for you, and I’m going to be checking in on you to make sure you’re doing okay”
5. Check In- Sometimes people need their alone time, and can become distant. Still, remind them that you are thinking about them, that you are praying for them, and you are there for them. Trust your instinct, you’ll know if they need space or if they need company.
Stay Away From Statements Like:
- “I know how you feel”
- “All you have to do is…”
- “Don’t worry”
- “You’ll be fine”
All of those statements invalidate how they are feeling.
It is difficult, at least for me it is, to be 100% understanding of what someone is going through- especially if I’m holding judgment. For example, your friend is super-depressed over someone you told her was no good for her from the beginning, and you knowww she’s going to be right back with this person. We’ve all been here with our friends, and sometimes we have been *that* friend – and because I know that I have been that friend, I know that I need the same support and same love from my friends regardless. Be tough when you need to be and be soft when you need to be- and trust that you will know when that is.
5 Inexpensive Gifts to Get Your Friend When They’re Going Through It
- Epsom Salt & Lavender– Buy a bag, put it in a cute mason jar and tie it with a ribbon with some essential oil . The Epsom salt relieves stress, and flushes out toxins, and lavender is very calming.
- Candles- Aromatherapy is real. Look out for lavender, eucalyptus, frankincense, chamomile, and rose candles. (I just found out through my own research that rose essential oil is known to help with emotional healing and stress).
- Adult Coloring Books- I love these for when I just need to zone out, and they’re super cheap, so it doesn’t hurt to try it out!
- A Good Book- Maybe get one self-help book, and one mystery novel, something that will act as an escape. Thrift stores usually have some good ones, if you want to save some coins.
- Journal– Buy them a new journal. It works as good tool for stress management, and its good to track your progress and clarify your thoughts. I love journaling.
You could get all these for probably $30-$40. Be thoughtful. Be intentional about who you say you are as a friend. Be the friend that you would want.
You don’t need a reason to be a good friend, or a good neighbor, or a good co-worker, just do it!