Four Ways to Comfort a Friend
When someone you care deeply for is in pain, not knowing what to say or do can be heart-breaking. Here are four ways you can bring comfort to a friend in need when you’re not sure what else to do.
- Listen. One of the most helpful ways that we process difficult experiences is by talking them through. As a friend, you can listen. You can also suggest that your friend see a psychotherapist. A recent study found that certain forms of therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, were equally as effective as antidepressants.
- Be gentle. To an outsider, every personal problem has a clear and obvious solution. But how you see the situation and what your friend feels are probably entirely different. Resist the urge to immediately try to solve your loved one’s problem; instead, make sure they know you support them and trust them to make the right decisions for themselves.
- Provide distractions. When an idea or experience really upsets you it can consume your thoughts as you replay the instance over and over again in your mind. One of the best things about spending time with a close friend is that they can force us to be present in the moment, outside of our looping inner monologues. As long as you continue to communicate with your loved one about how they’re doing, doing something with them that’s completely unrelated to the issue at hand can be the breath of fresh air you both need.
- Give it time. When we know something is wrong we want to fix it, now. You may be eager to see your loved one through to the end of their healing process, but taking time to consider what happened, how they feel about it, and how they want to go forward is actually a very healthy way for the person you love to act.
When we see people we love going through a rough patch it’s natural to want to jump in and save the day. But trying to immediately “fix” whatever is happening is more likely to make you feel better about yourself than it is to support your loved one in the midst of or recovering from a crisis. Whether someone you love is coping with addiction, struggling with personal problems or getting thrown under the bus at work, there are ways that you can support them. Show up for your loved ones when they need it; that’s the best way to be a blessing in their lives.