A report by MDLinx (for physicians) highlighted Loneliness as the new epidemic in the US. It is not surprising. In part the epidemic is a result of individualistic ways of living. However, it is important to note the role played by family and friends in providing emotional support to prevent a loved one from falling into the abyss.
I am going through decoupling right now and the circumstance made me think about some constructive ways to offer emotional support
So how can you help?
When someone you know and care about goes through an emotional experience, maybe try the unthinkable — just listen.
Your ego will urge you to prepare responses while the person is talking or to articulate your version of the truth or offer advice. I am guilty of having done all of these things but my experiences changed my perspective on how people truly want to be seen in times of pain
Hold the urge to silver line it…..
All well intention-ed loved ones, just stop being the herald of unicorns and deep spiritual transformations.
When your friends go through emotional pain, validate that pain. If their shit makes you uncomfortable, just be quiet.
No, seriously, the tendency to silver line it, is not for your loved one who suffers, it is for you. Read that again.
Give your loved ones time to grieve and understand. Eventually, they will be ready for the unicorns — but initially, to them, the unicorns look like stupid horses with annoying horns. Do not take it personally.
If you do not recognize silver lining it, maybe reference a few common ways people do it:
Reminds me of a few lines of a poem I came across and will reference throughout
You didn’t unburden, preach or rant,
judge me, entertain, or chant
I unburdened, articulated
and could feel my breath……slowing — Linda Eve Diamond
You may be right and it may be for the best, but that is probably not something everyone wants to hear when their heart is being torn in saw-like scenarios.
I like vivid visuals to help explain…..
Picture yourself waiting all day for a portion of freshly prepared and rightly seasoned fries. The restaurant is about to shut down but takes your order, the last of the night, for the oh-so-perfect fries.
You are salivating and cannot wait to crush these beautiful fried cholesterol filled chunks of fried carbohydrates. As you go for the first bite — you drop the whole damn thing in a pool of dirt — yes no 5 second rule for you.
Now, if I come in, all knowingly smile and tell you “it is probably for the best” — heart on your hand, tell me you wouldn’t want to falcon punch me right there and then.
Your version of the situation is not important…..
Disperse the urge to look for a light switch or flashlight to illuminate someone’s space with your wisdom.
This is usually my biggest fallacy. I would feel the urge to give a rundown of how I perceived someone else’s reality.
It is not your reality. Read that again.
No one but the person going through the experience truly knows what it feels like.
So if your very dominant ego and analytical brain tries to problem solve it for them — go hide in the bathroom till the urge passes.
You are not equipped to analyze and even remotely understand someone else’s marriage or relationship or friendship.
Some responses to avoid
So if all the above is no-fly, what do you really say to someone you deeply care about and want to support?
Here are some of my favorite responses from my friends and family when I confided in them
Decoupling is a tough and emotionally muddy phase. The best thing you might do you is to just listen and offer support.
Eventually, if you are paying attention, you will notice the tell-tale signs when someone is stuck in a rut of despondency and needs a shakedown — that is your time to step in with your tools and spiritual promises.
If you are paying attention, you will notice when someone is ready to seek out advice and guidance — that is your time to wear your analytical problem solving heart
Till you see the signs, let them breathe, in the comfort of knowing that you are there.
Reminds me of few more favorite lines from the poem to wrap it up
As you listened, my thoughts began to clarify,
opening to a knowing voice deep inside
You helped me find my voice
my center and my smile
you say you did not do a thing
you simply listened
Thank you for all that you didn’t do
and all that you did by listening — Linda Eve Diamond