Category Archives: EndTheStigma

How to Successfully Help Your Friends in Difficult Emotional Situations – Sweet Disposition

The first thing to keep in mind when helping someone in any situation is that while your good intentions are valuable, they don’t guarantee a positive impact. For example, if someone needs open heart surgery and you are not a surgeon, then no matter how much good intent you have, you should not attempt the surgery. If you do not know what you are doing, you are better off doing nothing because at least you won’t make things worse.

Here’s the overview on how to successfully help your friends when they are Emotionally Charged. 

  1. Do not assume you know their problem.
  2. Do not assume you understand them.
  3. Do not assume you know the solution.
  4. Do not offer solutions without understanding the problem first.
  5. When you offer a solution, calmly and logically explain how your solution addresses the problem in specific detail.
  6. All Problems are unique. Respect the uniqueness of their problem by treating it with special care. Do not dismiss it as a common problem.
  7. Acknowledge them and their emotions, their story, and their perspective.
  8. Do not force your interpretation of the situation on them. You can only make statements that build on their reality, not statements that describe a separate reality from their experience.
  9. Be available at anytime.  The idea that the person in pain should reach out, schedule, plan, wait, and then get help is not possible when the situation is an emergency. If you truly care about your friend, try to drop what you’re doing and help your friend. If you have an emergency yourself, then let them know that you truly care about them and wish you could help but you must take care of an emergency yourself.

Things to not say because they are not helpful:

  • “The solution works for me.” Good for you, but this doesn’t help your friend. Guide your friend through the solution, and then react to the reality. If the solution did not work, then you did not help your friend and saying ‘it worked for me’ still does not help your friend.
  • “Cut it out” or “Get better.” These are insensitive words that place responsibility and blame on your friend and shows a lack of care on your part to take any responsibility as a friend to try to help your friend.
  • Stupid questions. They waste time and make the friend feel insulted.
  • Tell them “to go talk to someone else,” “go talk to a health professional,” “go get help” without explaining you wish you could help but can’t.
    • It comes off as insensitive when you brush them off without explaining why. The “I wish I could help but can’t” makes the message so much more caring. Without that wish, it makes the friend think “What do you not care about me? It feels like you’re just throwing me away” and it gives your friend the “not my problem, go deal with it yourself” impression. So make it clear: I wish I could help you but I don’t have the ability/professional skills to help. If you can, offer to help the friend find help and then do so.
  • Don’t tell them to do the work. They are sick. DO THE WORK FOR THEM. You are being insensitive to their struggle when you give them ‘solutions’ that create more work for them to do.
    • Solutions that add work to them make you seem like an insensitive jerk. Yes, people should help themselves, but in an emergency, you should step up and help them when they are unable to help themselves.
    • If they are in a vulnerable state, telling them to do this or do that adds stress and makes them feel like they aren’t in control of their life and that you’re taking control of their life from them.  It makes them feel like you’re better than them, and feel like they are weak and useless. Even if this is true, it doesn’t help them to make them feel this way because you’re making things worse by making them feel bad.
    • It is insulting to give solutions that a healthy person could do themselves, because the fact that they aren’t doing it should tell you that they are too sick to do those solutions. Your solutions make you insensitive to their current situation.
    • Flat out insulting someone with statements like “you’re messed up man, stop being in pain” do not help. Asking stupid questions or making stupid statements further makes them feel like you don’t care about them because you aren’t paying attention to the specific difficulties of the situation that they are going through. Give them the care and attention to find out what’s wrong. Doing otherwise gives the impression you don’t care enough to actually help.

Song of the Post

Google says: Disposition = a person’s inherent qualities of mind and character, or the way in which something is placed or arranged, especially in relation to other things.

Help your friend achieve a Sweet Disposition by honestly listening and understanding their Sour Disposition, and nursing them like a baby by doing the work for them to create a Sweet Disposition in their emotional and mental state. .

Protect Yourself When Traumatized

Do not trust anyone with your trauma. When you are weak and sick and ill, there are cruel people who will take advantage of you or derive pleasure from hurting you. Avoid these people.

Do not share your emotional injuries with people who don’t believe you. Give them once chance. If they are skeptical and they think you are attention seeking or lying or making it up, leave them. 

Find someone who will listen to you and believe you and understand you and empathize with you and give compassion.

You are in a weakened state when traumatized. You want help, but you must face the reality that the world is not a kind place and you might not get the help that you need. If you do not face this reality, you will get weaker and weaker as people hurt you more and more.

Take responsibility for yourself by protecting yourself from the harm of others who are indifferent. Remember, these people are not personally looking for you to harm you. They just don’t care about you, and apathy is not active harm.

Find your close friends, your family members who historically have proven they make your life better, or call for support hotlines or use your medical insurance. Whatever you do, do not ask for help from people you cannot trust.

Innocent until proven guilty leads to victim blaming

If a victim comes up to you and says they are emotionally abused, assume the accused is guilty until proven innocent. Put in work, effort, time, to help that victim talk through the experience. Set the expectation that they will struggle to put into words their experiences, and it is likely too horrible for them to even imagine, which is why they cannot communicate it. Furthermore, the mind’s self defense mechanisms will use denial or memory loss to erase the abusive memories from their mind. So it takes a lot of careful tact and support and an extremely psychologically safe space for them to be able to confront calmly their abuse and put it into words. Help them do this. Don’t let the abuser get away.

Help the victims, don’t victim blame.

#mentalhealth #reduceTheStigma