Often times, we turn to those around us for support during difficult times, and as community members, friends, and family, we come together and use our light and strength to help those around us to heal, and grow. It is important that we know how to help each other process and heal during times when healing is challenging, because only by working together can we ensure that all members of our community are strong and happy. Below are some ways that we can begin to work together to support each other.
And realize that not everything needs a response or a story about you. Sometimes it can help people to know that others have felt or are feeling the same way as they do, or to hear your thoughts about what they are experiencing, but sometimes it’s best to just allow space for people to share their feelings and thoughts, without comment. This can be hard, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, is listen without comment.
Don’t assume that you know what someone is thinking or feeling, make sure to ask questions. By asking questions you show that you are interested and care about what people are feeling and experiencing. Let people tell you what is happening, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand. The more information you have the better you are equipped to assist someone. On that same note though, try not to badger someone with questions. Sometimes people don’t know how they feel or why. It’s a fine line between asking enough questions and asking too many. Which takes us to our next point…
Recognize the situation
Sometimes the situation doesn’t call for talking, sometimes people just need a distraction. A movie, or music, or just someone to play video games or eat food with with. Often times we put all the focus on making people talk or share, and sometimes that’s the worst thing we can do. If you don’t know how to help ask. “How can I help?” And recognize that sometimes people need space alone, and that’s ok too.
Learn the difference between empathy and sympathy
This video is a good place to start.
Sympathy can been seen as being able to recognize that another person is hurting, while empathy is being able to recognize how it feels to be hurting as someone else is. We might not always have the personal experience to truly understand how someone is feeling, but we can still empathize, and that empathy allows us to form a deep connection with someone and use that connection as a bridge between you. Empathy allows you to connect more meaningfully with the people around you.
Create opportunities for involvement
But don’t require it. Sometimes it can take a while for some of us to work up the energy to leave the house, or be around other people. By creating opportunities to spend time together, by not requiring it you are saying, “I would love to see you and spend time with you, but it’s totally ok if you are not in that space right now.” It can be difficult when we have been trying to spend time with someone who we care about, who is just not in the space right now to participate, but remember that having that opportunity for involvement can mean a lot to a person even if they don’t always take it.
Allow time for your self care
Make sure to take time to allow yourself to process. Sometimes we can get so caught up in being there for those around us that we forget to take the time to take care of ourselves. Remember to set your personal boundaries, which can be hard, especially when we feel that someone is relying on us. Keep in mind that you are not your friends therapist or doctor, you are their friend. It is important that you recognize that helping a friend through a difficult time is no excuse for someone to take advantage of you or to start unhealthy or abusive habits. Remember to speak up when you need to, and leave room for others to speak up when they need to also.
As things around the world continue to change it is important that we come together to support each other as we continue to grow and shine.
We’d like to know how you support those you care about during difficult times. Please let us know in the comments or continue the conversation with us on on Facebook and Twitter . We look forward to connecting!