How to Help Someone Who is Struggling
I am often asked by family members how they can help someone who is facing a stressful situation.
Use the word confidence
We feel stressed when we don’t feel confident that we have the resources to cope with a particular situation, so it is most important to find out how the person feels about themselves.
Ask: “How confident are you feeling about work, school, exams, being a parent etc… at the moment?”
Don’t ask something like “why are you struggling” because this sounds negative and focuses on the consequences, rather than the cause, of the person’s feelings.
Use scaling questions
Ask questions using a 1-10 scale, for example:
How capable do you feel at work, school, parenting… out of 10 at the moment?
How capable out of 10 did you used to feel?
What has made it lower do you think?
These questions provide clearer insight into how a person feels, and why.
Ask what would be most helpful
When we are worried about someone else we often want to:
a) Shield them by perhaps saying “I’ll sort it out, why don’t I……”
b) Push them by saying “Why don’t you do this, not do that, try this...”
Instead of ‘shielding’ or ‘pushing’ we offer the best support by standing side by side and asking: “What would be most helpful?” This is an empowering question because it gives the other person the opportunity to take ownership of their situation, the power to really think about what might make a difference, and the permission to ask for it!
Suggest ideas, but let them choose which to try
If the other person isn’t sure what might be most helpful then suggest a few different ideas that could be tried. Let them choose what to try first, and be prepared to help them try other ideas, until they find the one that makes the most difference to their feelings of confidence; this can often take a little bit of time.
Good luck, and remember one of my favourite quotes: “I never lose. I either win, or I learn”
If you would like support in any of your relationships please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
EssentialsMAG relationship contributor is Cat Williams from Stay Calm and Content
Tel: 07799 641347