Relationships: How To Respond To a Hurting Friend

Balancing_Act_by_captivatedimagesHave you ever been caught in the dilemma of wanting to:

a. ‘fix' your friend's problem and/or feel the need to ‘rescue' your friend

and

b. know that they need to find their own solution to their pain

I certainly have. Trying to be compassionate and supportive towards you friend, can become dangerously close to ‘rescuing' when you fail to act with self-awareness.

The need to ‘rescue' comes from the place within me that feels uncomfortable and even anxious about witnessing their pain. Yet I also know that they will never learn how to find their own solutions if I constantly intervene.

In this blog article, journalist Jessica Morris explores the question, ‘How Best Can I Respond To My Hurting Friend?'

 

In everyday life each of us often meets sorrow. This is not to say that life is a sad thing, rather if we can learn to brave the hardships in life and eagerly seek the dawn then both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be beneficial to us. Whether it is our own troubled circumstances or the circumstances of those around us, the fact remains that as humans we must react to suffering.

The line between clinical and personal can be hard to distinguish, yet often both sides seem to war with the other for the upper hand in figuring out how to ‘rescue’ someone. As humans, our immediate desire is finding a solution, and to find it fast. We want a quick fix, a way to stop our pain and the pain of those around us. But perhaps this ‘rescue’ is entirely the wrong way of thinking about how we approach the notion of suffering.

Reality and Compassion.  In some ways these are the two extremes of our lives.
To blatantly stare reality in the eyes and admit that we, or our friend, are struggling can be hard. What is even harder is to acknowledge that this admission (often verbally) seems to expect a proactive response to the person it is directed to.

To tell our friend that we are concerned and that the path they are on is hurting them is in essence the sign of healthy community. Yet to tell them this with an absence of compassion, sincerity and love reveals a weakness to humble ourselves and admit that we also struggle and in this we are willing to support them through their recovery. We cause them shame and continue the pattern of stigma that already surrounds many aspects of society, predominantly surrounding mental health.

To err on the side of compassion is all too common for many of us. We choose to ignore signs, symptoms or bad choices because we don’t want to offend someone we care about or feel we don’t have the capacity to ‘fix’ them. Perhaps with ourselves we want to be in denial about the fact that a behaviour, thought process or relationship is unhealthy and therefore justify it.  Just as a lean too far into reality causes harm to people, so does this paradigm of complete compassion. To ignore is to enable, therefore causing more harm to the person we are failing to tell the truth too.

As humans, we must choose to balance ourselves between both reality and compassion.  One cannot be functional and healthy without the other; compassion provoking denial or rescue and reality causing shame and elevation of a person’s struggle. It is only in this medium that we and the people we care about can seek recovery, not so we can be ‘rescued’, but so we are able to live a fulfilled life free of the chains of the suffering that oppress each of us.

Do you lean towards reality or compassion? Perhaps you can give the hard word to yourself but struggle to tell your loved ones your concern for them. Alternatively, maybe you have allowed yourself to develop unhealthy habits that you can justify while being blatantly honest with others. Wherever you sit on the spectrum, consider the other side and how you would like to be approached by a friend when you are struggling. After all, suffering is universal and the only remedy to recovery is this balance between both.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 If you want to grow personally and in your relationships, experience wellness and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

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