Sometimes your friends are going through things you understand all too well – and giving advice is a piece of cake. Other times, their problems are so unimaginable you have no idea where to begin. Nothing you can say will make them feel better, which only makes you feel worse. If your friendships are anything like mine, your friends’ pain is your pain and not being able to make them feel better is the worst feeling.
Most of the time our problems involve boys, homework, sorority drama, and the occasional mid-life crisis. But sometimes there’s family problems, sometimes there’s mental health problems. Both of which are things that can be very difficult to tackle as an outsider. My friends and I have gone through our fair share of stupid to serious problems, so here’s my advice:
- Listen: It seems obvious, but listening is truly the best thing you can do. You might not have a lot to say, but as long as you listen and really do your best to understand, it will help. A lot of the time people just want to feel like someone is really listening to them, and providing that for your friend will make all the difference.
- Check In: Just because it seems like your friend has gotten over whatever the problem was, chances are they didn’t. They may not want to talk about it all the time because they don’t want to be annoying or bother people. Letting them know you’re thinking of them and are there to help will make them feel better and remind them that even if they feel like their world is falling, you’ll still be there.
- Be empathetic: Sometimes it’s really hard for us to feel things a certain way someone else does. Maybe you think your friend should do something different, maybe you think your friend should have a different mindset, maybe you just think it isn’t that big of a deal – whatever the case may be, you need to remember that their feelings are valid and they’re putting their trust in you by coming to you.