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5 Ways to Support People Who are Suffering

Over the last few months, I’ve listened to and watched many of the people in my circle navigate through tough circumstances.

These are friends, colleagues, and family members and they’re dealing with divorce, raising children with mental illness or behavioral issues, dealing with physical pain management, caring for aging parents, learning about a family member with a new cancer diagnosis, receiving treatment for their own cancer diagnosis, grieving the loss of a cousin, a sister or other family member, fostering a child, and worried about finances because of job loss.

These are all real-life experiences and struggles of many of the people in my life.

And these are only the stories I know about. The truth is, everyone is working through something but we don’t always know about it. People don’t walk around with signs on their backs saying, “My life sucks right now.”

You know that person who cut you off in traffic or the one who wouldn’t let you in their lane? How about the friend who canceled on you at the last minute or the clerk at the store who was rude to you? Chances are, someone else’s behavior is a result of what’s happening in their own experience. It has nothing to do with you.

So how do we shift out of aggravation and into empathy?

Here are 5 ways to support our friends and the strangers we encounter every day who are moving through their own pain:

  1. Be kind. Simple as it seems, lending a smile, dropping a text to let a friend know you’re thinking about them or simply say thank you. These easy to do gestures are bucket fillers and can make a difference in a person’s day.

  2. Don’t judge. You may never know a person’s story or what they’re dealing with so don’t question their choices or make them feel bad.

  3. Be supportive. Offer help. When someone you know is suffering, offer to bring dinner, take their kids for an hour, accompany them for a walk or to an appointment, or simply listen when they need to vent.

  4. Be more tolerant. Assume that everyone you come in contact with is navigating a tough situation and give them space and a little grace. It will go a long way.

  5. Pray. I’m not a particularly religious person but I do believe in prayer. It never hurts to wish good health and to send healing energy to people in your life who are struggling.

Have you had an experience where you turned aggravation into empathy? I’d love to know about it. Leave me a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you share it and subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


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