The topic of support is not one I take lightly. I believe down to my soul that if given the right kind of support a person can be helped to work through anything, a hard situation, an obstacle standing in their way, or pushing forth into working towards a new goal.
There are two main types of support that a person could need: moral support or emotional support. Moral support refers to a person needing a psychological support. Emotional support refers to a person needing empathy, compassion, and a genuine concern from another person.
So, for our purposes we are going to focus on emotional support and leave true moral support to the professionals. Everyone is capable of offering emotional support, but sometimes we are not sure how to go about doing it.
Here are the ways that I have complied that one can be emotionally supportive to someone else.
Ask what they need
Sometimes people don’t know what they need, but sometimes they do. Giving the person the option sometimes helps to administer the needed support right away. If the person doesn’t know what they need, try one of the suggestions below.
Being there for the person
In order to be there, you don’t necessarily need to be physically present, but that is an option. You can be there for someone on the phone, through a text, in an online video, as part of a chat group, or through a written note or letter. The important thing is that you are ready to put this other person in the spotlight and focus on them and what they need.
You can hear someone without listening to someone. Hearing someone is like white noise, instead of listening to someone when you are acknowledging what they are saying and responding to them. These responses can be done through facial expressions, body language, eye contact, and verbal responses. It all about letting the person know that you are focused on their words and are taking them in.
A question can have a bigger impact than you think. Sometimes it’s through questions that people are able to process their feelings and emotions. It’s gets the person talking and allows them to focus on the answer, which helps to take some of the emotion out of it, which in turn allows them to process what is happening more clearly.
The skill of empathizing is just that, a skill. Being able to share someone else’s feelings and experiences without making it about you is a challenging skill to acquire, but the benefits are amazing. Your ability to think beyond yourself and your concerns allows the other person to feel like you are committed to them and what they are struggling with.
Hold their hand
If you are looking to offer support in a less verbal way, the simple act of holding someone’s hand is sometimes all they need. It makes a physical connection to the other person and reassures them that you are there. This can be done for a varying length of time and in all environments.
Give them a hug
A hug works in much the same way, but it’s timeframe is usually a bit shorter. A hug usually doesn’t require any words before or after, and it’s enough intimate physical contact to make a connection with someone who is in need of support.
Sometimes words are not needed at all. Sometimes your presence in a situation is enough. It makes someone feel like they are not alone, and sometimes that is enough.
With this topic, I would be remised if I didn’t talk about the other side of support. That being the receiving end. It is a topic that I have struggled with over the years. What I struggle with is asking for support from others. You see, I’m of the recovering mindset of “I don’t need support”. You know that mindset of “I can do everything on my own”. Yep, that’s the one.
No one, I repeat, no one does it all on their own. Everyone gets support in some way, shape, or form. But you need to be willing to take the support when it’s offered and ask for it when it’s not. Recognizing when you need support and asking for support are skills that I have been working on. Asking for support is not a sign of weakness, but instead is a sign of strength and perseverance. It shows that you care so much about wanted to push forth and succeed that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.