Cheerio Christmas Day 21: Showing Support
How do we start showing support to someone who's down or check in with a friend we haven’t spoken to in a long while? Concern may occasionally come across as being intrusive, or to put it loosely, being kaypo. Here’s how you can show a friend support while still respecting boundaries.
It’s been awhile since you last heard from your friend. On social media, you might have even seen them exhibit signs of sadness or they may have gone off the radar during this period. How do you reach out to them? While it is rather straightforward to say drop them a text and ask “how are you doing?”, you may hold back as you do not know what to say after your friend replies.
Firstly, be ready to listen. More often than not, we often underestimate this simple act of listening. We mean listening without interrupting, without turning the conversation to what you’ve experienced previously, and to be fully present shows respect in your friendship (no phones!).
Mastering this skill of listening takes time, sometimes we are tempted to cut in or make comments but resist it. Let someone finish their thoughts or sentences.
Don't rush to offer advice or provide solutions! The hard truth is that nobody needs your advice, unless asked for. Most people know the obvious solutions to their problems, but the fact that they may not be able to act on resolving it could be due to other reasons. Don’t be quick to think you know a better way out - if they could have done something they would have.
Give them space and let them know that when they are ready to talk, you'll be there for them. Sometimes, your friend just wants to hang out with you and not talk about troubles, they just need the assurance that you’ve got their back! Respecting your friend’s wishes and boundaries at this down period will make him or her be appreciative of you.
Phrases To Avoid
Comments along the lines of "you should learn how to relax", "others have it worse than you", “you should learn to be appreciative” or “just be happy” are the worst things you can say. Everyone has different circumstances in life and there is more than meets the eye. Nobody intentionally makes the decision to be troubled everyday and to feel upset. Who wouldn’t want to wake up feeling like sunshine? Your friend is not here to be judged.
Extending your care to others need not be a magnanimous task, no one is asking you to be a noble knight in shining armour. Small gestures are sufficient to make someone happy! Including them in social activities, or even when running an errand, you can drop them a text if you happen to be near their area and see if they would like to meet for coffee.
A short note or a little gift to show that you're thinking of them helps too. Personally, my friends send me memes of cats or heartwarming animal videos, to distract me from my worries. Even if it’s only for a bit, I appreciate this, and it really keeps me going!
In short, check in on your friends and even yourself for awhile. It doesn't take much effort to reach out with a text or a meet-up to catch up or spend some quality time together. Take initiative and make a friend less alone today.
Article written in collaboration with Debra.
About Debra: Debra Low is a freelance social media marketer. She is also a mental health advocate and both a member and volunteer at Hope Alliance, a social enterprise with a focus on mental health wellness. She writes on mental health issues in Medium: https://medium.com/@debralowxt A huge animal lover, she has 2 cats and previously worked in the animal welfare scene. A good part of her Sundays are dedicated to dog-watching at the dog run of Bishan Park. This little ritual heals her in her 'ruff' days.