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Being a “Shoulder to Lean On”

Think about the people in your life that you know struggle to feel confident, or seen and heard, or who are going through a hard situation in their lives. It can be difficult to know how you as their friend can best help them through these hard things and feelings. However, simply being a “shoulder to lean on” is arguably the most important thing you can offer your loved ones, and it requires only an awareness on your part.

Be a Good Listener

The first thing to keep in mind is to be a good listener. This is two-fold: for the person you’re listening to, you become an outlet—a source of venting and validation that they so desperately need in order to work through their struggles. On your end, you become more understanding and therefore more empathetic and compassionate to their problems and their needs, which makes you an even more reliable and trustworthy figure in their lives. This takes patience and practice, to stay silent and maintain a focus on them and what they are saying rather than letting your mind wander during their speaking. As you listen, it may be helpful to ask questions that clarify or invite further explanation on their part: this shows them that you are listening actively, and keeps you engaged.


Be Available

Second, be there for them. Be available. This can also be tricky—you have a life with all its responsibilities that will keep your schedule busy. However, showing this person that they are a priority to you is another incredibly important and helpful way to make them feel cared about and uplifted. Set aside time wherever possible to check in on your loved one, and do your best to be available for them when they need you to be there.

Point Them in a Good Direction

Now, when it comes to responding to your loved one’s struggles, sensitivity is key. You may feel intimidated about being unsure what to say, how to say it, or of giving advice on circumstances you know very little to nothing about… and that is okay. In fact, it is actually good to acknowledge your humble approach to helping them! While it is tempting to just suggest whatever you would do in their shoes, or just brush off the “hard”, the most helpful thing you can do is to validate their concerns, perhaps point out healthy things you have experienced in your own situations (if it is truly relevant or helpful), and then direct your loved one to good, trustworthy sources of help. Get them the professional, trained, or reliable forms of progress they need!

Our staff includes trained professionals that can help your loved ones work through their struggles in truly healthy, helpful ways. Contact us to set up an appointment with one of our therapists, and then continue to be that consistent and stable figure in their lives. That is the best service you could provide them!