How to Help Others Through Emotional Pain

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter
    McNamara, MBA, PhD

    Sections of this Topic Include

    We Too Often Help in the Wrong Way
    Here is the Best Way
    How to Help With COVID-19 Pandemic
    Support Your Friends, Start Support Groups
    Other Useful Library Topics

    When we try to help someone in emotional pain, we often feel like we want to
    immediately solve the other person’s problem, to make them feel better. We usually
    feel overwhelmed because we know there is no quick fix for the other person.

    We Too Often Help in the Wrong Way

    When people are feeling emotional pain, they want help. But they don’t want
    to feel like they are a problem that needs to be solved — that they are a person
    who needs to be fixed.

    Too often:

    • We try to fix them. “You are simply feeling that way because …”
    • We lecture them like they are children. “You simply have to …”
      “You should …”
    • We dismiss their feelings. “It’ll be better tomorrow.” “Other
      people have it worse.” “Don’t feel that way …”
    • We try to pacify them. “Yeah, that must be terrible. Yep. Yeah. I see.
      That’s tough.”
    • We dismiss them altogether. We do most of the talking, so we don’t have
      to listen to them.

    Here is the Best Way

    When a person is feeling strong emotional pain, they know deep down that there
    is no quick fix to their situation. They might be feeling guilty — and inadequate
    that they can’t simply solve their problem on their own. They are usually feeling
    very much alone.

    We can best help the person by:

    • Being totally present for them.
    • Listening closely to them.
    • Accepting them — not judging them.
    • Being compassionate and understanding.
    • Helping to empower them — to take some small realistic action about their
      situation, no matter how small.

    Often, rather than continued advice, it’s best to do what many therapists do
    instead. They respectfully and tactfully ask thoughtful questions to help the
    person to explore their own thinking – their perceptions, assumptions, and conclusions.

    See this
    Reference for a Helpful Conversation

    Also see
    Most Powerful Way to Help Someone through Emotional Pain
    Powerful Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
    Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
    How to Support People
    in Emotional Pain
    Ways To Help Someone Who Is Emotionally Suffering
    Powerful Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
    To Respond Compassionately To Someone’s Suffering
    Simple Ways to Help Someone in Emotional Pain
    to Sit With Someone Else’s Pain

    How to Help With COVID-19 Pandemic

    for Disease Control Stress and Coping
    Well-Being During COVID-19 Outbreak
    Mental Health and COVID-19
    to Avoid Passing Anxiety On to Your Kids
    Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety
    and Information On Anxiety
    Social Support: Getting
    and Staying Connected
    Stress Hotline
    Reference For a Helpful Conversation

    Support Your Friends, Start
    Support Groups

    The following website provides guidelines and free resources to share support
    among a small group of friends. It also can help you to start support groups
    as an ongoing service to others.

    Other Useful Library Topics





    Conflict (Interpersonal)
    Etiquette (Manners)
    Difficult People

    and Inclusion


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