Supporting Each Other

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Hard times are a part of life and a reminder of how fragile life can be. We all deal with various kinds of crisis and this is when we need each other the most. If we want to be an effective supporter, we need to consider the best ways to love each other through tough times. I suspect most of us have had the experience of unsolicited advice, visitors that didn’t know when to leave, or too much noise when we needed quiet. Here are some thoughts I’ve had on how to support friends and family, as well as what I have learned from my own experience.

The first critical skill is listening. That means putting our phone on airplane mode, facing who we’re talking to, keeping eye contact, and avoiding interrupting unless clarification is needed. People need to express their emotions. Listening assures others that their voice has been heard and they are valued. Understanding their feelings and needs allows us to determine the kind of support they need. Showing genuine interest is a kindness that can bring out the best in us and others.

This is the time to avoid judgement or the desire to fix the situation. Life gets messy, and when it does honesty is needed. People need to go through their feelings before healing can begin. If we’re a supportive person, people feel comfortable with us and will open in ways that may surprise us. For many people opening up is difficult, so it’s a privilege to be the recipient of someone’s innermost thoughts. Support creates a safe place for others and don’t we all need that when we’re hurting.

Supportive people are patient which helps build confidence and self-esteem in others. They also let others know they’re valued so no one feels unheard, unseen or taken for granted. Having a genuine interest in other people brings out their best, especially when supporters show their love through encouragement. We all need uplifting words when we’re struggling. Validation in the form of letting someone know we see their perspective is also helpful. Supporters are not required to produce magic solutions or instant answers, they only need to be a caring presence.

Sometimes support takes the small form of giving an appropriate compliment, hug or providing Kleenex for the tears. A nurse supported me by holding my hand while I was going through a difficult medical test and stayed with me until I stopped crying. That small act made all the difference because I knew I was no longer alone. After one of my surgeries, a friend brought me a small bunch of flowers that brought the outdoors indoors, and lifted my spirits. Another friend brought comfort food. My husband showered me with so much love that I never got discouraged, and my sister came and sat with me listening to whatever I needed to say. All these small acts made a positive difference in my recovery and bonded me even closer to the people I love. 

Supportive people make time for the people they care about so the message that we can counted on us is clear. We’re being supportive when we’re a positive role model, celebrate diversity and skip unsolicited advice. Let’s remember not to minimize the situation someone else is facing just because it may seem trivial to us.

The bottom line in supporting each other is to love and accept each other wherever we are at any moment. We don’t have to agree with everything, but we can still honor our differences with love. It’s love that helps us survive even the toughest times and love that heals our deepest wounds. Supporting each other is a pleasure that balances life when it becomes unbalanced. Let’s love more, support more, and feel the difference it makes in our life and everyone around us.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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