“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”― Steve Maraboli
Sometimes we have good intentions but cannot say or do the right things when others require support. The things we commonly say to other people can often invalidate the person in need of help. Sometimes, we can even make people feel worse about their experiences and life situations. I understand that not everyone is a therapist, and not everyone goes through sensitivity training or has a deep sense of empathy. Still, at the same time, I believe we can all gain the skills of validating others’ experiences and becoming better at supporting other people. I am a massive believer in empathy and love healing our corrupted and selfish world.
How Do You Support Others?
There are so many ways to support other people, but it all starts with sympathy, empathy and compassion.
It can be executed through:
- Listening and validating other peoples’ experiences
- Being someone others can confide in by letting others know you are there for them
- Doing something with or for someone if they are too afraid to do it themselves
- And so much more!
When someone is sharing or being vulnerable with you…
- How can you relate to this person?
- In what ways does their pain resonate with you and your experiences?
- Have you ever needed support from other people and didn’t feel supported?
- How did it feel when that happened?
- How can you prevent yourself from doing the same to others?
- Have you ever had a bad experience trying to support or while supporting another person?
Maybe you can’t relate or fully understand someone’s experience…
How Can You Help?!
The thing you most want to avoid most are words that invalidate their experience. Saying things such as “it could be worse,” “you shouldn’t feel that way,” “I’m sorry you feel that way,” “just move on,” etc.
- Acknowledge what they are saying to you
- Hear them
- Repeat back to them the things that they are telling you
- Make sure you understand to the best of your ability what they are communicating
- Ask questions
- Give your undivided attention
- Respond as they are talking to be sure they know you are listening
- Make suggestions.
- Tell them you are sorry for what they are going through
- Let them know you are there for them.
- That you understand or at least are trying to and want to understand.
The most important thing to be of support to others is validation. Validating feelings involves recognizing someone’s feelings and acknowledging them as necessary. In any healthy relationship, it’s essential to validate someone’s feelings when they’re upset. Start by listening and responding in simple terms. From there, try to empathize as much as you can. Remember, you don’t have to agree with someone’s feelings or choices to acknowledge their emotions are valid.
Are you looking for more support in your life?
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