Everyone goes through a tough time every now and again. Some go through worse times than others, unfortunately. Hardship is a fact of life, and you must deal with it when it arises. But when it happens to a friend, it can seem hard to actually know what to do to help them in their recovery. Thankfully, there are a few key ways you can be there for them. Remember, though, that you can’t fix everything or help every time. When you know someone who is struggling, if it is severe depression or they are at risk of hurting themselves, then professional assistance is needed. But before that becomes a necessity, the four suggestions below for how to help a friend through a tough time can be helpful.
Start to help a friend by seeing it from their side
Walking a mile in their shoes is perfect advice when a friend is going through a particularly tough time. If you can start to see why they may have made the choices they made that led to the situation or at least can understand where they are at in their road to recovery, you are able to better word and lead the conversations.
Use your time with them to listen to their actions and feelings and, in your own time, try to think about why they acted a certain way or said certain things. Once you can understand that, you can start to realize how to help a friend.
Do not be judgmental
Don’t hold what they may or may not have done or how they feel about it over their head. The last thing anyone wants when they are in a bad place is to feel like their buddies don’t care and are going to hold their actions against them.
Again, you must be listening, not talking. Try not to tell them outright what they could or should do in a judgmental tone.
It is not your place to be passing judgment on their actions. If you start being judgmental towards your friend it can start to push them away and you may never close that distance again.
Check in with them regularly
Especially when your friends are seriously struggling with their current situation, checking in with them lets them know they haven’t been forgotten. Feelings of loneliness and abandonment are what lead to some of the more dire consequences of friends in bad situations.
In the digital age, with so many methods of communication available, there is no excuse to not get in touch with someone. If you are really worried, then go to their home or call an appropriate professional to be on the safe side.
Care about them, not the story
Once you are able to detach your friend from the situation and focus solely on them, you are making great strides in the process of helping them to heal. Once you start trying to pry details from them about what else is going on in the situation and stop thinking about their well-being, you are no longer leading them down the path to recovery.
For example, if your friend is currently going through an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) For Addiction Recovery then don’t start asking about other patients. Keep your focus on them and them alone. If they want to tell you the details they will. And not a minute sooner.
Concluding thoughts on how to help a friend
The reality is that you don’t always know when a friend is hurting or in a tough place. While you can’t pry information out of them or maket them talk, you can “hold space” and listen to them when they have something to say and communicate that you’re there if they need you.
Loved ones are what makes the days brighter, and good friends become like family. Care for them, just as they would do for you.