Acknowledge their feelings. Validate the fact that they are hurting instead of shoving extreme optimism in their face. Pain is not a myth. Dismissing it as unreal only makes it worse. Nobody is unhappy by choice, so the first step to help get out of misery is to acknowledge that it exists in the first place.
Never say it’s their suffering is the result of their own fault even if that might be the case sometimes. We all make mistakes. But pushIng people to the path of regret. “You shouldn’t have…”, “You should have instead…”, “I told you so…” kinda terms must be ditched at once, for by using this, you push people even further down to point zero.
Be a listener first. Truly listen to people when they open up about their deep dark difficult parts. Refrain from adding how you have suffered way more than them or how you are lucky to have never faced such things. This isn’t a competition of how poorly or nicely life has treated you. People really need to feel heard.
While being there for someone, just straight up ask if they wish to only talk it out and want you to listen or for you to just be present with them as they can’t get themselves to talk it out, so just sit with them in the comfort of silence and only give advice if they want such help, for many a times, people just want someone to be there, to simply listen.
Some people find solace only by cutting themselves off from the world, so when someone seems distant it’s great to reach out but if they absolutely need to be alone then let them be, don’t demand for their attention or keep complaining about their absence, for that only pressurises and that only adds to the pain.
Also, as it is wrong to force feed extreme optimism, it must still be served in broken down small parts, for will power and hope are essential in healing.
Validate their Pain :
Observe their emotions. One of the most daunting aspects of trying to console someone who is in pain is not knowing what to say. Fortunately, most people aren’t searching for concrete guidance or pearls of wisdom from you; the most soothing thing in the world isn’t an inspirational platitude, but the knowledge that everyone else understands what you’re going through.
When people are in pain, the most important thing they want is for you to be a sounding board and to display understanding and empathy. This is what Gottman refers to as “witnessing” the loved one’s pain.
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So, to begin reassuring others, simply explain what you’re seeing/feeling. Let them know you are sorry they feel this way, you are always there for them.
Also, confirm that you understand what they’re saying by repeating it in your own terms.
“Of course you’re devastated,” you might say to a friend going through a tough breakup. Since Emily and I broke up, I was honestly sad for months.”
Keep in mind that although expressing common experiences demonstrates empathy, you must be careful not to draw the conversation’s attention to yourself.
Don’t try to outdo the other person by telling a storey about how you’ve had it worse, and don’t wax lyrical about your own experience. Instead, say a few words about how you’ve been through something similar, and then shift the emphasis back to the other person by asking questions and eliciting more information.
Even if you haven’t had a similar experience, you can say, “That’s never happened to me, but I understand why you’re feeling that way.”