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Five Ways to Truly Help Someone

Ever had someone that needed help and you were not sure what to do? It can be a difficult situation sometimes.

After losing my son, many tried helping in their own way. I can tell you the best thing to keep in mind is to LISTEN. Sometimes no words are needed. I never found anyone willing to just sit and listen. That is what I needed the most.

Here are a few ways that might help you if you are ever on the situation of trying to help others. Many will not ask for help. But if you listen to their words, you can often read between the lines and perhaps you can help more than you know. Again, life is about the little things.

Helping other people is not only good for that person, but it’s good for your own soul. That being said, it’s a challenging world and there are some difficult people out there in difficult situations. Helping other people in their hour of need can be challenging and confusing at times. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that…

1. You don’t need to have all of the answers.

A person who is going through a difficult time may feel like their problems are taking over their lives. Those feelings can be intense and overwhelming even in a situation that is relatively simple. It’s okay to not have answers. You can always help guide the person in the direction of the answers they are looking for.

2. Presence speaks louder than hollow words.

Words often mean very little, which is probably an odd thing to read. But how many times have you heard from a person that they would always be there for you? Or even that they loved you, and then when you needed them, they were nowhere to be found?

The truth is that words are easy, and often shallow.  It is the actions that speak loud and clear. People so often look for the right words to comfort someone they care about who is going through something terrible, but there are rarely good words for the worst of situations.

3. Anchor the person in reality with a tangible course of action.

A person who is going through hard times will be swamped with emotions that are likely to make it hard to see through or past their pain. Think of it like a person who is physically drowning. Are they concerned with a boat in the distance? A shoreline? No. They are in the moment, focused on trying to keep themselves above the surface.

They aren’t necessarily spending their time looking past keeping their head above the water or latching onto something nearby that can keep them afloat. Panic and a drowning response make it difficult to think clearly in such a situation. (*This one speaks volumes to me, many times I was sinking and had to make the decision to start swimming.)

4. Boundaries are a necessity in trying to help another person.

There is a lot to be said about the importance of authenticity and closeness with other people. What tends to get forgotten far too often is the absolute need for boundaries. Boundaries serve not only to protect oneself from the turmoil of other people, but they can also help guide another person in a better direction. Know when to talk, and when to listen.

5. Avoid using the word “understand” when trying to relate.

The word “understand” is an emotionally charged statement to people who have gone through some horrible things or are presently struggling. Using this word is a tricky thing, because it can also immediately shut the other person down. 

No matter what you have been through, everybody has their pain and struggles. You do not understand or know what they are going through. Remember… Know when to talk, and when to listen.

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Written by Carol DM


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  1. I agree with you. Listening is the most important aspect to consider when helping someone. Sometimes we can’t know what to say but the presence itself is enough. And despite going through the same situation, it doesn’t nearly mean a person understands what the other is feeling or going through. And we need to give them space to be themselves. It is a form of healing when they face the reality and ponder on their situation.


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