When someone you care about is struggling or having a hard time, the natural response is to try to make them feel better. But today, I’m being honest. I don’t think that should be your goal. In this video, I’m sharing why I don’t want you to make people feel better. Plus, I’m sharing what you can do instead and why it will be way more helpful. Watch below!
Think about the last time a friend or family member came to you with a struggle. Whether they felt alone, hurt, or overwhelmed, they were carrying some tough stuff, dealing with some heavy emotions. And they sought you out for support. Moments like this can be so challenging. Here is this person you care deeply about, and they’re struggling. They’re having a hard time, and you want to help. And so you do what most people do, you try to make them feel better.
But this is where we have to stop and rethink this goal. Why is that your immediate response? Why is trying to make people feel better your initial reaction?
Think about the things people come to you with. Grief, relationship problems, scary health stuff, depression, infertility, and paralyzing anxiety. These things are complex and complicated and deeply painful. They’re not things we can quickly “feel better” about. They’re heavy, hard things, and they rarely, if ever, have a quick fix. An immediate mood boost is unlikely.
Yet so often in these situations, we try desperately to make it all okay, to make the other person feel better. But by trying to make people feel better, we often do the exact opposite. We end up tossing out unhelpful one-liners, tidbits of advice, or empty words of encouragement. These responses often make people feel worse. They feel unheard, dismissed, or minimized.
So instead of trying to make people feel better, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to comfort them. Your goal is to be present with them. Be there, listen, and give them every ounce of your attention in that moment. Be empathic, and be and compassionate. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Think back for a second, to the last time you went to someone in a season of struggle. What were you struggling with and how did they help you? Did they offer advice and quick words to make you feel better? Or did they sit with you, withholding judgment, instead offering compassion, empathy, and comfort?
Offering comfort is more powerful than making people feel better. Give compassion and tenderness before you give advice or one-liners.
It’s hard to see people you love in pain. It’s hard to see them struggle. But remember, as a friend, partner, or trusted confidant, it’s not your job to make people feel better. You have more to offer; you have better to give. Offer comfort, give compassion, and sit quietly with someone in their pain. It’s the greatest gift you can give someone, and I promise you, they won’t forget it.
Think of someone in your life right now who is struggling. Let go of trying to make them feel better, and instead, think about how you can comfort them. What would that look like? What could you say or do differently?
Dear Dr. Allison
This is by far the best advice I’ve heard in a long time. I truly believe listening and comforting can go a long way. From my own personal experience, I feel it is more valuable to be heard, rather than someone attempting to make you ’feel’ better; because sometimes this can be an epic fail, even if it comes from a good place. Always enjoy your posts, looking forward to your next one. Liking and Sharing!
Thank you SO much; your comment made my day! I’m so glad this resonated with you. I truly believe one of the valuable gifts we can give others is our presence, in full and unconditionally. It’s not always easy, but it’s so much more helpful than any one liner could ever be. Thanks again for commenting!