Have you ever found yourself lost for words?
This can happen when we’re met with someone going through a difficult time. Our instinct when someone is struggling is to ‘fix’ people, when of course that person may just want us to listen. You’ll know yourself how frustrating it can be when you just want to tell someone how you feel but are met with any number of clichés. Things like “there’s people worse off than you” or “what have you got to be sad about?”. It’s minimising, it can take more of our mojo; unsolicited advice can even feel like a boundary violation.
Of course the people that can suffer most when we’re struggling is us – we beat ourselves up, and call ourselves names. It’s at times like this when compassion, especially for ourselves, can be important.
Here’s what might help:
This week, maybe set the intention to Pick the Phrase. I actively encourage that people plan and prepare what to say when they might not know what to say, whether to themselves or someone else – just in case you ever need it. If it’s someone else that’s having a hard time, and they offload, one of the most helpful things you can say is “thank you for telling me”. It lets that person know what a privilege it is to be trusted with their feelings. If you don’t know what to say you can say that, but follow it with an assertion that they did the right thing in telling you: “I don’t know what to say, I’m just so glad you told me”. Many people also say it’s helpful, if you ask them what you’d like to happen next. E.g. “would you like some advice or do you just want me to listen?” (most people want the latter.)
Of course if it’s you that’s on the receiving end of the tough stuff, then it’s helpful to have some words or phrases you can use to help you stay centred; practice these regularly for when the time might come. Words or phrases could include:
“This will pass”.
“It is what it is.”
“I will get through this”.
That doesn’t mean we roll over and just forget what needs to be addressed; just that we acknowledge what we can and can’t control. It might even be easier to draw or create how you feel in images. It doesn’t always have to be spoken word, you can express yourself healthily in any number of ways – famous painters have done this their whole lives. Find what works for you.
You can always reach out to someone if that helps, but remember in the meantime to treat yourself like you would a good friend. When you appreciate your own wisdom, you’ll rarely feel alone.
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You might also like: my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now.
© Delphi Ellis 2023