How to Help a Friend Who’s Struggling

It’s always painful to watch a friend struggle, especially when you haven’t the foggiest clue as to what to say or do to make it better. Here are some quick tips on what to do when a friend is going through hard times.

Separate your shit from their shit.

This person is your friend because you relate to them, right? Right. So, it’s easy to get your shit tangled. Maybe they’re going through something you went through or are going through and struggle with yourself. Regardless, this is not your tragedy. You cannot deal with this for them. If you find yourself getting emotionally attached to the situation, it might be time to examine the “why” within yourself.

Control your emotions.

Emotions can be a slippery slope during hard times. Your friend is experiencing a wide range of their own. The worse thing you can do is assemble yourself as an unstable foundation for them. Out-of-control emotions is a breeding ground for hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and glass walls. Try to contain your emotions to a more manageable level. Focus on a becoming on a strong hold for your friend to lean instead of matching their anguish.

Ask questions instead of making statements.

I’m terrible when it comes to this. It’s a natural tendency to lay down a list of what someone should do in certain situations to “fix” it. However, this problem may not be immediately solvable. In addition, making statements is going to come off as bossy and aggressive. By asking questions, your friend can come to their own conclusion. It re-establishes their trust in you. Never under-value that.

Remind them how much you love them.

You probably feel like this should be a given. Of course you love them otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this or so concerned about them! But during challenging times, most people’s thoughts do not automatically go to who loves them and how much. Many feel like their life is under a microscope with a spot light on their bad decisions. Remind your friend how much you unconditionally love them and remind them often.

Manage your expectations.

Your friend is not going to be at 100%. Not today. Not tomorrow. It may take time before they’re feeling themselves again. Don’t expect them to go from 0 to hero because of the few words you had to offer. Ultimately, this situation is not yours to control. It’s their’s. Let them stay behind the wheel and trust that they will come around eventually.


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Originally published at on September 7, 2015.

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