Holding the space needed for challenging conversations when others are faced with difficult times is never easy. It can be especially difficult when you need to be strong for, and in front of, others. How do we support one another through challenging times?
So many of us are going through things we feel we can’t share publicly. Although we want others to know what we are experiencing, not for pity or a free pass, but because we want them to understand that what we are going through is affecting how we are feeling. Despite that desire, we often keep our challenges and our hardships to ourselves. We think it is the safest way to move through and navigate what we are going through without being a burden.
If you are helping loved ones going through challenging experiences or going through a time of transition yourself, you can step into supporting and being supported.
- Be supportive
It is not always easy to hold space when we want to help loved ones to feel better and help them move through a challenging time. We want to fix their problems or give them solutions to move through what they are experiencing. We want to provide them with every resource, everything that we feel may help them even though we may not know for sure it is what they want.
Often though, we share our desire to help in a problematic way for others to receive it. Our desire to help and encourage people to feel better can hinder how they feel and impede how they move through their times of hardship, loss and transition.
We often mean well, but in fact, we hurt others in a way that profoundly affects them. You do not have to fix their problems. If it’s not your problem to fix, do not offer solutions, unless asked. Instead, what will be best received is when you share in their pain and ask how you can help.
“I hear you. I am sorry you are going through this. My heart aches for you. I feel for you.”
“What can I do to help? How can I be here to support you? What do you need?”
Allow the person to feel heard and understood. That is how we can help them move through a tough time or a tough transitional phase. Instead of offering suggestions on what will make them feel better, share in their pain and ask what you can do to help.
2. Be authentic
Going to a place of vulnerability can be hard. But often, that lack of vulnerability and honesty with ourselves leads to critical mistakes because we try to do it all on our own and don’t ask for help and support. Instead of being honest, we hide what we are truly experiencing, and we keep things to ourselves. In doing so, we feel that we are showing strength rather than weakness. Instead, what we are doing is cheating others of knowing the real truth.
Show your authenticity. Express what you are going through or how you feel, with those you can trust. Show the vulnerable side of you in a way that encourages others to be honest with you too. It will build trust and ensure that your loved ones feel supported and not alone.
3. Show Empathy
Have you ever worried that by sharing a challenge or a tough situation that you will bring others down? We often feel that we have to park our honesty because we have the perception that we will negatively impact others by sharing. But if you look back at a time when someone showed you their true vulnerability and honest experience in going through a challenging time, you did not see them as weak, nor did you see them as bringing you down. Instead, you aligned with them, you bonded with them, and you built a link to them based on the experiences that you were going through. You heard them, you supported them, and you met them where they were. Through that experience, you were able to join them on their journey.
You cannot be afraid of bringing your loved ones down by sharing the hardships you are going through. Instead, by being honest and vulnerable, you will bring them to meet you where you are. Together, you will move through it. Bring others together through the journey and share what you are going through so that you will be holding that sacred space for each other.
Find comfort in knowing that you can hold the space for challenging conversations and situations. Just relax into it. Don’t try to fix things. Instead, listen. Let others know that they are not weak when they share and experience challenging times.
This post was originally published on pierretteraymond.com.