If you are having difficulties helping someone who is upset , ask yourself the following questions:

1- Is this person really asking for my help?

2- Is it appropriate to help him or her ?

3- Is this person asking me to help solve problems, or is he or she simply asking me to be a good listener and to provide emotional support?

The first quest may make you aware that you are trying to help someone who hasn’t really asked for help. This may be due to an irrational attitude I call the ” help addiction.” You may feel it is always your duty to help friends and loved ones find solutions to their problems. You try to help even when help hasn’t been asked for. As a result , you may appear intrusive and controlling .

If you decide that you do want to help someone , the third question to ask yourself is how you are going to help them. There are two very different ways to offer help . You can help simply by listening , or you can help by doing favours or giving practical advice. You can think of these approaches as the ”listening mood” and the ” problem-solving mode.” If you and the other person are on the same wavelength , there’s no problem. However, you will have difficulties if you are in the problem-solving mode while the other person only wants you to be a good listener . Your message is : ” Why don’t you pull yourself up by your bootstrapes ? Think more positively . Try doing X. The other person may resent all this. ” logical” advice. He or she just wants you to say, ” I hear how lousy you feel. I know how awful it can be.” Unfortunately, you may not know that some emottional support is all that’s needed, so you offer advice that sounds intrusive and insensitive to the other person.

You may wonder when you should be a good listener and when you should be more active in helping someone solve a problem. Sometimes you simply want to ask them .


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