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Depression, anxiety, and troubles of different kinds are part and parcel of life. We all hope that we can avoid these things as much as possible, and there’s certainly plenty of great and uplifting stuff in life that we can set against these sources of misery, but there’s no getting around the fact that sometimes things just suck.
It’s one thing to try and keep yourself on the right track, when you are weighed down by issues of various sorts, and are struggling. But when it’s a loved one of yours who is going through a hard time, the desire to help can be unbearable.
There are things we can do to try and make things better for those around us, but we have to approach these situations with humility and caution. If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home for dementia care, for example. paying a visit may do a lot of good, but you can’t hold yourself accountable for their mental state as it is.
Here are a few ways to help people close to you who are struggling.
- Listen to them and help them to uncover their own answers – don’t talk at them
Generally speaking, people really don’t like to be told what to do, and no one really wants to be “saved,” either.
Even if you did know exactly what someone should do in order to feel better and get out of a particular situation, talking at them and lecturing them on what they should do would only make them feel bad about themselves, and probably angry at you, as well.
So, what’s the right course of action? It’s to listen to them, and help them to uncover their own answers, by allowing them to bounce thoughts and ideas off you.
That means being there, and being willing to engage in conversations where you’re not always trying to dish out the answers.
- Do what you can to try and set a good example
Often, when people are going through a tough time in life, they will look to the people close to them for inspiration on how to deal with things.
The thing is – they often won’t “ask” anything. They’ll just look to see who appears to be doing well, and then they’ll pay attention to how that individual acts.
One of the very best things you can do to help people around you who are suffering, is to do whatever you can to help yourself, and in so doing, to set a good example.
- Be honest with them
Honesty isn’t always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be blunt and insulting, like people often assume it does, either.
When someone is dealing with a tough time, they will often be desperate to try and balance themselves against external perspectives. By being honest, you help to offer them perspective. By being dishonest, you keep them from helping themselves.
If someone comes up to you, feeling that their life is completely pointless, and asks “am I living badly? Should I be doing things differently?” Then that’s a time to be tactfully honest. It’s not a time to say “no, of course not, you’re perfect just the way you are.” Because, then where should they turn?