We all have that friend: every setback they have, no matter how minuscule, is a big deal in their world. They stretch the truth so much to the point where even they know they sound ridiculous. You feel bad for them because they seem stressed and overwhelmed, even if whatever they are complaining about may be silly in your mind. You want to help make them smile and stop worrying, even for just a few seconds. “Life goes on.” “There are much bigger problems in the world.” Unfortunately you can’t just say these things without getting getting the what-are-you-talking-about glance. So how do you help them?
Over the summer, my mother suggested a book to me by the title The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Check it out if you haven’t already, it’s a fantastic read in my opinion. The book isn’t for those who are essentially unhappy, but just for those who want to milk all the happiness they can out of their lives.
There is a section in the book that talks about how the author was able to sympathize with her children much more easily from a few simple steps. While helping your 2-year-old child is much different from helping your 20-year-old best friend, there is one strategy that I think can be used effectively. That strategy is simply to show them that you understand the pain they are going through and to let them know that you will always be there for them.
The book suggests to simply repeat whatever the person said in simpler terms as a way of showing that you understand. For example, if your friend just broke up with her boyfriend because he cheated on her with her best friend, then you could say “You feel betrayed by everyone right now.” This obviously is an exaggeration, along with the story your friend probably described to you; she hasn’t been betrayed by everyone. This helps to show them that you understand their situation though.
After that, think before you say anything else. Actually, sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all and to just listen. Silence can be awkward, but also necessary for thoughts to fully develop. If you rush the person you are helping, they could get carried away with the words coming out of their mouth. But some time to think (and let them speak when they are ready!) can make all the difference. Finally, it’s important to end the conversation by assuring your friend that they have someone they can rely on at any time of day. Not even using a crutch, but just knowing that you have one in case you need him or her, can be extremely comforting.
Friendship is a beautiful thing, and it can be difficult to take care of sometimes. I hope this post was helpful to those going through a tough time or helping someone else through a tough time. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave them for me below. Everyone have a wonderful Friday!! 🙂