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4 Psychological Support Mistakes We Make
People share their problems to be accepted. And it doesn’t matter whether they put their story on display to strangers in some community or call their loved ones at two in the morning. But only a few get the support they want. Not everyone knows how to support properly.
Blaming and insulting: “It’s your own fault that you’ve spent so much at 22Bet!”, “Why are you demanding so much attention? Many other people need help more than you” is easy.
And even those who are trying to help also say the wrong things. For example: “Everything will be okay,” “Don’t get upset,” “It’s not the end of the world,” “I told you so! I warned you!”.
None of this is helpful! When a person is under tremendous stress, when they can’t get their thoughts together or don’t know what to do, the last thing they want to hear is something like this. These are phrases that are not helpful. They cause only irritation, a feeling of loneliness, and a lack of understanding. A person is lucky if they know someone they can turn to for support or have a really supportive friend. And if such people are not around? We can become them ourselves. Here are futile attempts at psychological support and the best ways to behave in such situations.
Mistake: Empty Promises
For example, something terrible happened to your friend, and you automatically wanted to tell her, “Don’t worry,” “Everything will be fine,” “Everything will work out.” All these are empty promises. You cannot know what awaits your friend in the future because you are not a psychic. With such words, you emphasize that right now, everything is bad, and only then will everything be fine.
How to Behave?
It is better to be silent, to be near. If your friend allows you, hold his hand or hug him. You will be surprised, but this is one of the best and easiest ways to support – silence, acceptance, a friendly hug, and simple words of sympathy: “I’m sorry,” “I understand you,” “I feel for you.”
Mistake: Forbidding Emotions
The phrases “Don’t cry,” “Don’t worry,” “Calm down,” and “Pull yourself together” are wrong because we forbid the sufferer to feel and experience what they naturally need to feel and experience in a given situation. Suppressed emotions are destructive. They act on the body from within and come out in the form of psychosomatic illnesses. Hence, we see diseases that poison life.
Everyone (adult or child) has the right to grieve, cry, get angry, resent, or react in any way when they are in a stressful situation. So, it makes no sense to force a person to be adult, intelligent, and strong at that moment. The sufferer now needs to be themself to take off the masks of all social roles.
How to Behave?
If you want to help the person, and not just get away from him, help show these emotions, do not suppress them. Allow your loved ones to talk about their experiences, let them cry, and grieve. You’ll notice, the emotions will immediately go down. It’s like a crying baby to hug and watch him calm down.
Mistake: Devaluing and Gaslighting
“He’s not worth your tears,” “It’s not the end of the world,” “Nothing happened,” “You made it all up,” “You imagined it,” “I wouldn’t worry if I were you” – these phrases indicate that the person does not analyze the feelings of another, does not understand what their experiences are based on, and so on. This does not mean that these experiences do not exist and that the loved one is not suffering.
The most unpleasant thing here is that the devaluation causes real harm. The person doesn’t get rid of their distress, and new experiences are added to them. Suffering feels that he is not important to you, feels unaccepted, misunderstood, stops trusting you.
How to Behave?
Refuse to devalue. If you do not understand why the man is so worried, ask him to talk about his feelings if, of course, he wants to. If he doesn’t want to, don’t insist, but sit quietly by his side.
Mistake: Useless Advice
Often we think that if a person complains about life, he wants to get advice. This is not the case. The person talks about the intimate, first of all, to speak out, and secondly, to be accepted by society. Talking helps to reduce emotional stress, and moral support helps him understand that he is, as before, in the pack. Didn’t get moral support, but he was “gifted” with unsolicited advice? That’s the result – unnecessary tension between people arises.
How to Behave?
Say words of support, don’t advise if they’re not asked. And what if the advice is asked? Express your opinion in the format: “In this situation, I would do so-and-so. You can describe your emotions, and you can tell a similar story.” In the end, be sure to say that the responsibility for making this or that decision rests solely with the person asking.