How to pick the signs and tread that fragile line of 'caring and supporting' when someone is going through troubled times

What is the difference between caring and supporting and how do these two words impact on what, how and when we help those in need?

The definition of caring: displaying kindness and concern for others - 'a caring and invaluable friend'

Supporting is' where an individual gives help or assistance, or to hold something or someone up'

So when to care and when to support is the question...let's have a look at a couple of scenarios:

How to care:

  • your best friend has just lost her mother and she is constantly crying and working through her grief as best as possible. She uses a few helplines and sees a counsellor but still needs to feel she can cry as she does not want to give up the memory of her mother just yet.
    • this is a great example of just being there for your friend, and 'caring' enough for her to allow her that safe platform of unconditional love from you to her, allowing the tears to flow and keep her mother's memory alive. She has confirmed with you she has support already, so this is something she does not need from you at this time.

When to support:

  • you have a buddy who plays rugby and you have noticed that he has become withdrawn and very quiet. He is drinking a lot, and this is impacting his game, his family and his teammates are getting pretty upset. A few people have said, 'hey mate, are you ok"? He normally responds with 'yeh, all good'. But things don't change...
    • this situation is one that is sometimes difficult to navigate...you want to reach out, but in asking closed questions such as 'Are you ok?', there is traditionally a quick response to say, 'yes'....as asking this question implies that they are not ok...so they become defensive - what then? Open ended questions are a great way to offer support and by this, you are not making statements that your friend is not ok, you are being curious as to some of the changes your friend has been showing...for example, you could say" hey mate, just wanted to reach out and grab you for a coffee, have you got some time', or 'Buddy, if there is anything you ever need to talk about, happy to be an ear for you'...or, 'just noticed that things are a little different with you mate and if you want to chat, I am here for you' You are offering support by sharing your observations about subtle changes and you are there for him if he needs you....

We also have to remember, that if someone does not want to talk, then you can't make them...all you can do is care, offer support and check in.

Sometimes the smallest gesture showing concern, offering support and caring, is all that is needed to make another person feel validated and worthy because you are showing care for them...a simple human experience that we all connect with.

Be kind to yourself and others...a great moto to live by!

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