How to help someone in emotional crisis?
Perhaps you can relate to this
Perhaps you can relate to this – you suspect, or already know that someone you know is going through a difficulty. You want to help the person, but you don’t know how. You feel the urge to do something and yet something is stopping you.
Maybe you don’t feel “qualified” and are afraid of the many possibilities what might happen.
But the truth is – we are all qualified to care for each other. Your compassion is your power. An honest help from a friend or a stranger can bring hope back to any of us.
Even though it can be difficult to make a first step to offer support to someone in emotional crisis because of our own hesitation and fears, that honest act of care can be exactly what is needed at that moment.
Where do I begin in offering help to someone?
There are a few simple steps that can be of value to you when offering emotional support.
1. Overcome the hesitation.
It’s not easy to do it and many words of doubt might be firing in your head – “what if I say something wrong?”, “It’s not my place to say anything”, “what if this will ruin our relationship?”. But once it comes from a true place of caring for each other, it will happen just the right way. Don’t do it because you should. You don’t have to. Do it when it comes from a place of honest caring.
2. Approach the person.
Try to find a way to reach a person without coming over as a hero or someone who pities. Simple and honest words can open the doors for a sensitive conversation. And if the person is not willing to share – honor that choice. Showing that you are open to listen now and in the future is already helpful.
Here are some simple ways you can communicate this.
“I am noticing something, and I would like to share it…You seem worried to me. If you’d like to talk about it, I am here for you.”
“Tell me if I’m wrong, but it really seems to me that something is bothering you, if there is something you want to share, I am here and would like to listen to you.”
“Hi, I just want you to know, if you want to talk about it, I am here whenever you’re ready. And I mean it.”
And many other ways to say it, most important is being honest about your willingness to offer your support and not pressure the person.
3. Listen to learn.
Many of us think we are great listeners. Notice when you listen to someone, what is happening in your head? Perhaps you have a couple answers ready before the person finished the sentence? Some valuable advice? That is common to most of us. Before you jump into action, just hold on, advice is often not what is needed from us. The person is the expert of her/his life. So, listen truly, listen to learn about the person and the experience. Listen for the strength and resourcefulness in that person – after all “every story of tragedy is a story of a hero”.
4. Offer your help.
What it means though? What help exactly you can offer? Well, perhaps you can’t know what the person needs, so ask it – “is there any way I could help?” And if the answer is “no” – don’t take it personally. Do not offer solutions, as they might be not what the person needs. In fact, the person might already have what is needed to cope with the situation. Showing your support is helpful as we experience everything through relationships – with others and with ourselves.
No doubt, you can be there for people, gently offer your help and at the same time honor their autonomy.
HPPsupport written by Skirmante S
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