By: Natasha Archary
Human beings are a complex jungle of raw emotions and feelings, confusing at the best of times and downright impossible to understand at the worst. One thing is for certain however, that at some point in each of our lives we will either seek emotional support or need to be an emotional support system.
The inevitability of life has a profound way of showing you that no one is above circumstances of heartache, loss, stress, financial trouble or panic-induced fear. No man is an island and it is important to remember that there are just some things in life that one should not have to deal with alone.
Being emotionally aware of how you feel is one thing, being receptive to someone else’s emotional distress another. It is not uncommon to feel uncomfortable approaching someone who is emotional. Personal space, not having the depth to understand or fear of coming across as insensitive often stops us from reaching out to someone who is clearly emotionally taxed.
An emotional support system is vital to overcome difficult and stressful situations. Here’s how to be an emotional support system to someone in need:
There’s no need to rush in on a white horse, complete with suit of armour, ready to rescue. Sometimes, all someone needs is a listening ear, shoulder to cry on or a good venting session. All you will need to do is find a comfortable spot, take wine and allow the person the time to let it all out.
- Avoid lectures
This is not the time to whip out your thesis on life-and-the-many-lessons-you’ve-learnt. Understand that the person who sought comfort in you, did so for a reason. Unless your opinion is requested, refrain from the lecture, however philosophical it may be. People misconstrue information when emotional and your friendly advice may just come across as insensitive or condescending.
- Small things
Take over a home-cooked meal, chocolates, tissues, flowers, a hammer, punching bag, bandaids…whether symbolic or funny it would make a good ice-breaker. If you know the person would rather do something active than talk things through, hand over the hammer and give them a moment to release all the pent up emotion on a block of wood. Remember to ask when they last ate, showered or slept and insist they do while you are there. Knowing someone cares enough to ask about their wellbeing is sometimes all a person needs to feel better.
Give them time. Ensure they know you are there and will always be whenever they need you. Morning or night. Make yourself available when they do reach out to you. If you cannot commit to that, then do reassure them that you will find the time to visit. No two people heal or deal with things the same way, so it is important to understand that this is a process and one that has no set timeframe. You are either in it for the long term or not at all. And if you aren’t, let them know so they can find someone to help them through things.
No matter how minute the task may seem to you, it will mean the world to someone in distress if you helped with laundry, meals, the kids. An hour of breathing room or an entire duvet day can do wonders for body and mind.
Emotional distress is often overlooked. What the eye can’t see doesn’t exist right? The scars from emotional pain, depression, anxiety or heartache cuts deepest and there isn’t a clear cut way to overcome this. Accept that you may at times be unable to offer the kind of help a professional could, in fact seeking professional help should not be a last resort. Know that it will take time to restore emotional wellbeing after a devastating chapter in someone’s life. Give them time, be patient and keep them on the emotional life support that is you.