As much as we put on our bravest faces when we go out into the world, the fact is, all of us will struggle at one time or another. Some of us are fortunate to have more temporary struggles, while others may struggle with an addiction or mental illness their entire lives.
Getting through a tough time is a lot easier when we have the right support. Unfortunately, getting the support we need can be difficult. That’s because the support someone has to offer may not be the kind of support that’s needed.
If you have a friend who is struggling through a hard time, how do you know if you’re there for them in a way that actually helps? Follow these tips and you can make sure you’re being the helpful friend they need.
Get Support for Yourself
Helping a friend deal with a small setback is relatively easy. A night out on the town may be all it takes to turn their outlook around. It’s a lot different with friends or family who are struggling with more serious issues.
If someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, for example, it’s important to get support yourself. Find a local meeting or consider attending a virtual Al-Anon meeting. Other members will provide you with the support you need so you can in turn provide support to the person in your life who is struggling.
It’s not just friends and family members of alcoholics that could use a little extra support. There are support groups for friends and family of mental illness, gambling, various medical conditions, and more.
Offer Advice Only If They Ask
The first thing you will want to do when you realize a loved one is struggling is fix their problem. That usually includes providing them with advice, whether they ask for it or not.
It’s time to stop giving unsolicited advice. Rarely is it ever followed, and it sets up the recipient to think that they’re being judged, which is the opposite of feeling supported.
Instead, only offer advice if they ask for it. If there’s something you just can’t resist sharing, ask if you can provide them with advice first. If they say yes, then you can provide them with your idea.
Don’t Make Them Ask for Your Help
You shouldn’t give advice unless asked, but that doesn’t mean you should wait for your friend or family member to ask for other things too. Instead, you should offer your help, whether they ask for it or not.
There are a lot of nice things you can do for someone else. A few you can do for a loved one who is struggling include:
· Bring them a meal
· Offer to do chores around the house
· Take them to appointments
· Plan a weekly movie night
· Offer to locate resources they can look into
Make It About Them
Good listeners can be hard to find. That’s because everyone lives rich inner lives that they want to share with others. Many conversations may start centered around the speaker, but the listener quickly makes it about them.
Strive to be a better listener and make conversations you have with your loved ones all about them. Ask thoughtful questions and repeat concepts that need to be clarified. Make eye contact and nod your head to show them that you’re truly listening.
Questions that you can ask include:
· How do you feel about that?
· How long have you felt this way/had this problem?
· Have you thought about what you’re going to do?
Check in Regularly
No matter what kind of struggle your friend or loved one is experiencing, chances are, they don’t want to be a burden. That means they are likely to retreat into their own little world, and before you know it, it has been weeks or months since you have heard from them.
It’s important to check in on your loved ones, even if you aren’t sure if they are struggling or not. Sometimes, all it takes is for a friendly voice to brighten someone’s day and get them on the road to recovery.
It can be difficult, and frustrating, to see a friend or family member struggle through a hard time, but you do have the power to help them through even the most difficult of times. Follow these tips, and even if you can’t help directly, they will know at least one person cares about them.