Saturday, January 18, 2020

How Do You Support A Friend In Crisis?

Challenges are a fact of everyone's life. At one time or another, stressful times happen to everyone and the most charmed of lives can come unstuck in an instant. Worst case scenarios such as relationship breakdowns, redundancy, serious illness or accidents aren't nice things to dwell on when thinking about our friends, but if they strike, what your friend will really need is to know that they have your support. However, there's no manual for helping someone to navigate a crisis, and each situation is different, so knowing what to do can be a tough. What steps should you take to support someone dealing with a bad situation? 

Don't Avoid Them

Sometimes when we don't know what to say, or we see someone in pain, we feel like it's better to give them space. But one of the most hurtful things that you can do is ignore them. Reach out and let them know you're there to talk. Even if you don't know what to say, it isn't important - you should be there to listen. Knowing that you aren't alone is a huge comfort when disaster hits. 

Point Them To A Specialist

Offering comfort is one thing, but when problems are complex, you may be right in thinking that you aren't qualified or best placed to be of real, practical assistance. Be prepared to signpost your friend to people and organisations who can really help if they need it. That could be a support group, a therapist, a debt counsellor or even something like a 12 step addiction recovery program. Whatever they need to recover, help them to access the right support when they need it. 

Give Them Time 

If something life altering happens, don't try to minimise their issues or hurry them through the problem. Things like grief are complex processes to work your way through. Yes, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, but equally trying to suggest they put a negative experience behind them too quickly can be hugely damaging. Of course people have probably survived worse, but your friend needs to heal on their own timescale. Support your friend to take the time they need to work through the feelings born of this momentous time of their life, and be there for them to remind them of better days, without making them feel that they should be getting better quickly. 

Step Back From The Situation

Don't be one of those people who has a tendency to make it all about them. Yes, it can be gruelling supporting someone going through a crisis. You may wish they had more emotional resilience at some point, or you may simply get tired of hearing about the same things. No one is expecting you to be more than human. But let your compassion lead. Turn to the people you have in your life to run off steam rather than venting back to your friend in the situation. Make sure that you have other outlets in your life, such as an exercise routine or a regular break away planned so that you don't feel trapped by the situation. Making sure that you have your own coping mechanisms in place will allow you to focus on your friend during the times that you are with them and prevent you from experiencing compassion burnout

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