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  • 17th September, 2021
  • by Nandini Hemnani

How Can I Provide Emotional Support to Someone Else?

People express emotional support for others through encouraging, reassuring, and showing compassion to those in need. There are several ways to show empathy, such as verbal remarks or physical gestures.

Ask

Simply asking someone you care about a few questions can be an excellent way to provide emotional support.

When asked, "How can I help you?" it can occasionally be effective, but it's not always the greatest strategy.

Especially in the thick of a stressful crisis, people aren't always sure what they want or need. Some people may not know what to say in response to such a broad inquiry. Instead, try asking questions tailored to a situation or the person’s state of mind, such as:

Listen

You can't just ask questions and hope for the best. Giving emotional support also requires active listening, or empathic listening.

Someone who is truly listened to is given your undivided attention. Displaying open body language, such as turning your body toward them, relaxing your face, or keeping your arms and legs uncrossed, might help you show interest in what they're saying.

Validate

People often desire to be acknowledged for their suffering as a form of assistance. A loved one's struggles may not require your immediate intervention. You may be able to provide the finest help by just expressing your concern and being there.

For example, you could say, "I'm sorry you're coping with that circumstance. It sounds like such a pain."

“It's really upsetting to think about it. Your current state of tension makes sense to me”.

Avoid Judgment

Don't post your opinions on what they should or shouldn't have done when expressing support.

Questions such as, "So what got them so upset at you?" should be avoided.

This is especially true when the tone of your voice conveys feelings that you didn't intend to express.

Whenever you speak, focus on feelings such as sympathy and compassion to avoid seeming disapproving.

Skip the Advice

You might assume that advising someone how to fix an issue is helping them. But in general, people don't ask for advice until they specifically ask for it.

A better strategy is to use reflective questions to help them identify solutions on their own.

“Are there any specific modifications that you can do to make yourself feel better?”

Authenticity Over Perfection

Do not worry too much about whether you are providing the "correct" form of support when you want to help someone.

Instead of trying to come up with the right thing to say, just speak what comes to mind. Authentic care is more meaningful to your loved one than a prefabricated reaction.

Motivate them

People can get discouraged and doubt themselves and their talents during stressful times, especially when rejection is involved.

Be mindful of a few factors when expressing compliments:

Think about what makes someone considerate instead of simply saying, "You're very considerate." Then express your admiration for that quality

Incorporate Their Ideas

Instead of pointing out the problems in their idea, it's usually better to help instead of criticizing it. That doesn't mean that they're wrong. Even if you don't think their plan would work, you can't be sure how things will end out in the long run.

Perhaps you could offer some mild advice if they ask what your opinion is. This could assist their idea succeed. However, even if they ask for your honest opinion on their strategy, refrain from criticizing it harshly or negatively or dissecting it to parts.

Offer Physical Affection

Of course, physical affection isn't always suitable, but depending on the relationship with the person you can offer physical affection.

Plan something they enjoy

If you're looking for a way to relieve tension and concern, but don't know where to start, this is for you.

In contrast, you may be able to come up with some suggestions that will distract them from their problems.

Try to plan an activity that's low-key and entertaining that you can reschedule if necessary. A walk along a favorite nature trail or a trip to the dog park are usually safe bets.

For those who cannot get out, consider a project around the house or perhaps a game instead.

Follow up

A few days later, revisiting the topic lets them know that their problems matter to you, despite your lack of involvement.

"Hey, I just wanted to see how you were doing after what happened the other day. As a result, I want you to know that I'm here if you ever want to talk again."

This is a great way to propose a potential solution if they've asked for your opinion and you've come up with one.

Encourage seeking professional help:

You might make somebody defensive if you walk into a conversation and declare, "You're depressed.” Instead, focus on how you feel. If you make the conversation more about you, the other individual may not become hostile with you.

Say, "I'm concerned that you may be struggling with depression."

“Certain habits in you have caught my attention. It might be helpful if you could speak with a professional."

It is good for people to know what options they have to help themselves, including seeking professional help.

Make them aware:

It’s always good to know that you have people around you who support you, but it’s even better to know that there are many alike people who might be able to understand you better. There are many support and help groups that provides the opportunity for people to share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies etc., for e.g., a hope and depression support group. You can also offer to help them by providing informative support, share about the myths of counseling (https://confidein.care/debunking_myths_about_counseling.php) and why mental health needs their attention or how can it help them (https://confidein.care/Is-Counselling-For-Me.php). It might turn to be their silver lining.

The Bottom Line

A person's emotional support isn't something that can be seen. Because you can't see it or grasp it in your hands, it's possible that you won't recognize its influence straight away, especially if you're in pain.

In the meanwhile, it might serve as a gentle reminder that others care about and respect you.

When you offer emotional support to others, you're letting them know they're not alone in their feelings and concerns. Even momentary mood-boosters and other forms of emotional support may not be as effective as this message over time.

Do not use this website if you are in a life-threatening situation. Call your emergency services.