When you are going through difficult times people often say 'just let me know if I can do anything to help’.
If you find yourself saying 'just let me know if I can do anything to help' to people I challenge you to stop and consider that often the person you are asking may not know what they need or not be in a position to articulate it. Even saying 'is there anything I can do?', is often met with 'nothing', 'I'll let you know' or 'thanks for asking'. Frequently this is a false connection. An attempt at a connection that goes nowhere.
So how do we move beyond this, into showing our kindness and creating connection?
If you know the person you are likely to have an innate sense of what they need. Look around - could they do with a meal, a coffee, someone to make their bed (I so appreciated a freshly made bed when I was struggling to cope with younger children - thank you parents, parent in law and sister in law).
What else helps?
If you find yourself saying 'just let me know if I can do anything to help' to people I challenge you to stop and consider that often the person you are asking may not know what they need or not be in a position to articulate it.
Maybe it's a friendship card outlining some of the ways they have helped you over the years, or an appreciation card. Maybe it's a box of chocolates, donuts, or fresh mangoes! Making the time to sit and listen - without checking your watch or your phone.
Give them a simple choice - would you like me to do this or this? Open ended statements and offers for help aren't often that helpful. Mainly because a person under stress has difficulty thinking clearly, and secondly because if they are feeling stressed they may not feel worthy of help.
And this is precisely when they need help.
If you can just do something, anything to show you care and understand, this is an act of kindness that will be remembered.
Don’t wait to be told how to help.
ps When was the last time someone did you a deliberate act of kindness?
If you are a parent concerned about your child or wanting to learn positive psychology strategies to help your child thrive you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at the new group I have for parents with children in the early years of Primary School and the facebook groups where you can meet other like minded people at Positive Young Minds and Positive Psychology for Life.
If you are a parent looking at improving your own well-being there is a 3 month online program based on creating your own 7 Steps to a (guilt-free) Self-Care routine.
the human condition is one of the search for the Opposite of Loneliness
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.