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How to Help Others Through Emotional Pain

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

Sections of this Topic Include

We Too Often Help in the Wrong Way
Here is the Best Way
How to Help With COVID-19 Pandemic
Support Your Friends, Start Support Groups
Other Useful Library Topics

When we try to help someone in emotional pain, we often feel like we want to immediately solve the other person's problem, to make them feel better. We usually feel overwhelmed because we know there is no quick fix for the other person.

We Too Often Help in the Wrong Way

When people are feeling emotional pain, they want help. But they don't want to feel like they are a problem that needs to be solved -- that they are person who needs to be fixed.

Too often:

  • We try to fix them. "You are simply feeling that way because ..."
  • We lecture them, like they are children. "You simply have to ..." "You should ..."
  • We dismiss their feelings. "It'll be better tomorrow." "Other people have it worse." "Don't feel that way ..."
  • We try to pacify them. "Yeah, that must be terrible. Yep. Yeah. I see. That's tough."
  • We dismiss them altogether. We do most of the talking, so we don't have to listen to them.

Here is the Best Way

When a person is feeling strong emotional pain, they know deep down that there is no quick fix to their situation. They might be feeling guilty -- and inadequate that they can't simply solve their problem on their own. They are usually feeling very much alone.

We can best help the person by:

  • Being totally present for them.
  • Listening closely to them.
  • Accepting them -- not judging them.
  • Being compassionate and understanding.
  • Helping to empower them -- to taking some small realistic action about their situation, not matter how small.

Often, rather than continued advice, it's best to do what many therapists do instead. They respectfully and tactfully ask thoughtful questions to help the person to explore their own thinking - their perceptions, assumptions and conclusions.

See this
Quick Reference for a Helpful Conversation

Also see
The Most Powerful Way to Help Someone through Emotional Pain
5 Powerful Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
How to Support People in Emotional Pain
5 Ways To Help Someone Who Is Emotionally Suffering
5 Powerful Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
How To Respond Compassionately To Someone's Suffering
5 Simple Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
How to Sit With Someone Else's Pain

How to Help With COVID-19 Pandemic

Centers for Disease Control Stress and Coping
Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19 Outbreak
Mental Health and COVID-19
How to Avoid Passing Anxiety On to Your Kids
Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety
Tools and Information On Anxiety
Social Support: Getting and Staying Connected
Disaster Stress Hotline
Quick Reference For a Helpful Conversation

Support Your Friends, Start Support Groups

The following website provides guidelines and free resources to share support among a small group of friends. It also can help you to start support groups as an ongoing service to others.

Other Useful Library Topics

Building Trust
Communications (Interpersonal)
Communications (Organizational)
Communications (Writing)
Conflict (Interpersonal)
Etiquette (Manners)
Handling Difficult People
Diversity and Inclusion
Office Politics

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