Be "That Friend"

by Marnie Pehrson
 
Have you ever felt like you were all alone? That nothing in your life seemed right and there was no light at the end of the tunnel? Those who face serious illness, financial setbacks, loss of loved ones, or even roadblocks in trying to achieve their goals and dreams often feel totally alone in their darkest hour.

Usually, I write about ways that we can help ourselves through challenges like this - like calling upon God, having faith, reframing the situation, looking for the silver lining, and basically hanging on until the light comes. But today, I'd like to talk about what you can do when you have a friend or loved one who is going through these types of challenges. How can you be there to support them and back them up?

Listen to them

Sometimes all you need in your most challenging moments is a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Really listen to your friend or loved one. Ask them questions to help them verbalize and think through solutions to their problems. If you listen carefully, you can often find the root of the problem. By asking the right questions and letting them talk it through, they'll be able to discover their own solutions. My strategist/coach, Jenette Zubero whom I fondly refer to as the Question Lady, has taught me the power of the interrogative statement. She says, 'I never give advice; even if a client asks for it. This may sound stringent, but I believe that giving advice is a huge disservice to my clients. I believe that clients can find their own answers and that when they find the answer, it will be infinitely better than any advice I could have given.'

Empathize

Although you may have never experienced the exact problem your friend or loved one is experiencing, you most likely have endured something similar. Your friend may be having doubts about decisions they've made. Your friend may have started a business that isn't taking off, and this could be causing a lot of stress for them. Even if you've never had your own business, you may still have experienced similar moments in your life where you doubted yourself, doubted your decisions, and even doubted your own self-worth. You can draw upon those feelings you had in your challenges to help your friend know that you understand the feelings and emotions that they are having. If you can't relate to their problem at all, find someone who can, and talk to them about the feelings that are associated with this type of challenge and how they worked through it so you can better understand and support your friend.

It helps to know that you're not alone -- that there is someone out there who understands your pain, that you have a shoulder to cry on, and that the feelings you have are perfectly normal.

Give 'em a little push

A friend of mine told me recently that the bigger the challenge or problem you're pushing against in your life, the more you need someone behind you pushing you along. In other words, when you're trying to move a heavy rock, it sure helps to have an extra set of arms and shoulders to bear the load. From your objective point of view, you may be able to see answers that your friend is too close to see. In a loving, but firm way, you can give them insights into their challenges so that they can have more options for solutions. You can give them the strength to keep on going and never give up.

One word of caution, you do need to be careful when you push people that you don't overdo it. You can't beat people over the head with a club to get them to see their solutions; you'll only knock them senseless. It is always darkest before the dawn, and it is in the moment of your greatest darkness that you want to give up, lose confidence and quit. It sure helps to have a friend who gently, yet firmly gives you the nudge you need to proceed into the light.

Inspire them

I would dare say that every challenge that we face in life could be overcome with faith. Faith that tomorrow will be a brighter day, faith that this too shall pass. Stay in contact with your struggling friend. Call them just to see how they are doing, pick them up and take them to lunch. Send them inspiring quotes, notes, or cards to give them little packets of sunlight to brighten their way. Even one small star in the night can help to light someone's way.

Love them unconditionally

Love them for who they are as well as for who they can become. I think the truest friend is one who knows your potential, who sees all the great things in you, and gives you the strength, courage and vision to reach your full potential. A true friend doesn't belittle you or love you any less for your shortcomings, but points out your strengths and helps you work to overcome your weaknesses. A true friend leaves you better than they found you.

There is nothing so rewarding as helping a friend to the light. I challenge each of us to reach out to those around us. Instead of saying, 'Oh, that's too bad' when someone has a problem, actually do something about it! Be there for them, help them, love them, inspire them and get behind that load and push. Don't be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing; just be there for them. As I told a friend the other day, we're not living on an episode of Touched by an Angel here. God isn't going to send Monica in a glow of light, but he does send friends who love us to let us know we are not alone. Be that angel to those around you, and not only will they be strengthened, but also your life will never be the same again.

About the Author
Marnie Pehrson is an author, creator of www.IdeaMarketers.com, www.LocateACoach.com, www.SheLovesGod.com, www.BelieversAtWork.com and more. She is the author of inspirational books like Lord, Are You Sure? and historical fiction such as The Patriot Wore Petticoats. She also helps people earn money from home. For more information on her projects, visit http://www.pwgroup.com.