A few weeks ago, I talked about what to do when you see your friend struggling. Now, I’m diving into what happens when you feel like you have some sage advice and it gets tossed to the side. We’ve all been there before and it can be confusing and frustrating.
Acknowledge that this is not your battle.
The most important take-away from this is that you get to a point of detachment. Realize that this struggle is not your’s and you cannot fix it, even though you really, really, really want to. By releasing this control, you’re also releasing anxiety, worry, and frustration. They don’t offer closure, so loosen your grip. If anything, those things will give your crow’s feet, so let ’em go.
This is making you mad for a reason. Find it.
The obvious reason is because you love your friend and you hate watching them be in a bad place. The not-so-obvious reason is found somewhere inside of you. There’s a reason this is tugging at your heartstrings so intensely. When have you been through something similar? Is there still emotional attachment there? You may be dragging in your baggage to the situation without realizing it. So, instead of spending time critiquing everyone else, spend some time examining the “why”.
Do ask questions, but don’t be invasive.
It’s important to let your friend know that you care and one of the most caring things you can do is ask questions. Asking questions gives someone permission to open up to you without feeling like they’re being burdensome. However, this can be a slippery slope. Don’t push if your friend is feeling reserved. It will only lead to resentment.
One way to check if it’s okay to open the conversation up is by asking, “Hey, is it okay if I ask something personal?” or “Do you want to talk about [insert struggle here]?”
Stop assuming their feelings.
It’s unfair to attach emotions to your friend that may not be there or may not be the major players. It’s okay to be compassionate and empathetic by trying to understand where they’re coming from. However, don’t automatically assume that they are feeling a certain way because that’s the way they should feel and you would feel that way. By assuming before speaking, you’re closing all the wrong gates to a meaningful understanding. Try to go in with a blank slate. If that’s challenging, try to keep your love and concern of your friend at the forefront.