Celebrate life with someone who asks you to focus on the positives. Each of us has gone through challenging times of our lives.
Over the many years of writing Sanity Savers and More I have offered my thoughts about ways to take care of ourselves during particularly demanding times. Many of you have shared what has worked for you and I have incorporated your input. Recently, I wrote about developing resilience after trauma. Although I have worked in the field of trauma for much of my career, the most recent “installment” was prompted by my attendance and participation in a conference about trauma and resilience.
I am a believer that even though it is often rough going, we can all learn healthy ways to care for ourselves.
When friends are going through tough times, we want to be there for them in ways that they require. If we are fortunate, they know what these ways are and they tell us. Sometimes they tell us and we do what we think they want, only to discover that either they did not say what we thought they said or we did not hear correctly what they said. And then we have to go back to the beginning, to clarify. It’s not so bad if this happens. We just try again. When we get it right, it can be gratifying for each person. When we honor their requests they feel heard and we help them get through their challenge. They may or may not notice when we support them in some way, but that is not the point. Our job is to listen and to do our best. If they notice, great. If they don’t that is okay too.
One thing we can always do is celebrate life with friends who ask us to focus on the positives. The last thing someone who is dealing with a serious challenge needs is to have it define them. Whether it is related to health, family, work, finance, or the myriad things that happen in our lives, most of us want to be viewed as larger than one element. We want to be perceived as who we are; that our “personhood” has not changed. We all need our friends and family to relate to us as they know us to be. Sometimes, depending on the relationship, there is an “the elephant in the room.” But that is just the point. The friend is focusing on the elephant and has it under control. It is highly likely they want to have some time to enjoy life NOT focusing on it.
Asking someone how they are doing can be interpreted as intrusive or caring. Not an easy call because everyone is different. There are times we all put our foot in our mouths, trying to do or say the right thing. It happens. When someone is going through a challenging time, every relationship may be viewed with a keenly discerning eye. As a friend, our role is to be there in the way we are asked to be there. And this can change over time. Offering someone support needs to be on their terms. This can be difficult but it is important to try to do it in a way that is meaningful for them.
1. Create moments to be shared that are fun, interesting, intellectual stimulating, and / or adventurous.
2. Participation in something creative, new, out of the ordinary.
3. Talk about what is going on in your life and what you would normally talk about.