When someone is in a state of not feeling well, whether it be illness, grief, anxiety or heartbreak, consider the following:
1) Try to “fix” the situation or them.
Look at where that is coming from in your own self. Are you uncomfortable with someone else’s pain? It’s understandable, especially if it’s someone you love and care about. Are you trying to fix it for them or for you? This is an important question to ask. Please,don’t try to mask their feelings, or tell them they are fine or bypass what their current experience is. This only suppresses and bottles up what they are going through and does not support them processing and moving forward. In the end, there is no “fix” and it can actually cause more harm.
2) Turn the story into something about yourself and compare their turmoil to something you have experienced, at least not at first.
Before you start using language like “oh ya that’s just like the time I….” Or “ I know exactly how you feel, this happened to me in in this way….” Or “well you know what I do when I am in your situation…? Instead listen attentively, don’t interrupt and say things like “wow, that sounds like really big stuff” or “oh I hear that, that is a lot to hold right now, is there anything you need? How can support you right now?” I understand that speaking from our own experience is a great way to relate and it does show a level of compassion from shared experience, that’s fine. First start with really being present, listening and acknowledging what your loved one is going through. By taking the time to slow down and really hold the whole container of what they are going through, you are actually offering more, deeper help than by giving advice or trying to get them to “move on”
3) Ignore them and immediately change the subject.
This is one of the worst things you can do when someone is confiding in you or opening up to you. It shuts them down and creates “danger” signals in their vulnerability.
I understand there needs to be boundaries and you can’t always hold everyone’s s*%t, but ask yourself: Is this a boundary cross or am I just uncomfortable and don’t want to be reminded of my discomfort in this situation? These are 2 very different scenarios. If someone is hurting and trusts you enough to share their experience with you, can you be the space for that? Can you try a little harder using the tips above?
4) Last but most definitely not least, don’t talk about their situation or their emotional state behind their back.
If someone has shared something with you, opened up to you and was vulnerable, please don’t go talking about it/them to others. Even if they don’t know you are speaking them, people can feel energetically when they are being talked about.
Maybe you don’t agree with them or understand, but if someone confided in you, not matter you “opinion” about them or their situation, don’t gossip it to others.
In the end, how would you want to be treated if you were holding your wounded heart in your hand and asking someone to hold it with you? If you were sick, vulnerable, sad or grieving, how would you want to be held, heard and supported?
We all experience life and emotions a little differently, but can we meet each other where we are at? Can we try to exercise some new skills, slow down and be attentive without agenda?
If we can start to embody a bit more presence and compassion, it will come back to us 10 fold. This is reciprocity. This is the real change I hope to be and see in the world.
Craniosacral therapy is based on these foundations of non doing, not fixing, and deep embodied listening. When we can be held and heard in our pain without trying to be changed, real healing can emerge. It is a beautiful space to be as a receiver and a supporter.
If you would like to know more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.