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Helping Others Help Themselves

Helping others in need can be incredibly challenging. Many people feel desperate to help a loved one move out of a rough patch. Gaining the trust of someone indicates your ability to make them feel safe. Taking the time to listen to them and comfort them demonstrates your ability to be a genuine source of help. Despite your best efforts, sometimes you may feel that the person you care for doesn’t seem to be making any progress. You may ask yourself: “Is there anything more I can do to support this person?”.

Here are five effective ways you can help others help themselves.

Exercising patience

People who are struggling are going through a process of figuring things out for themselves. It may take a significant period of time before they do. If you truly want to help them, avoid rushing them or putting expectations on them. This puts unnecessary pressure on them to somehow get better, take right action, and please you at the same time. Be honest with yourself. Are your helping intentions for their benefit or yours? It can be both at the same time, but important to know where your needs figure in the mix.

Active listening

Active listening is different from passive listening. Active listening requires one to listen and reflect what they understand is being said. That also means being attuned to what the person may not be saying. When you actively listen, you do not give advice or try to “fix things.” You are helping the person to hear themselves, creating space for them to see patterns and gain insight.

Highlighting strengths and resources

Everyone has some skills; positive internal qualities and external resources that support them through life. By pointing out a person’s strengths and resources you are empowering them to see their own capabilities and the support networks at their disposal to move forward in their lives. This reinforces the idea that asking for help is okay, and that they are not alone or without capacity in a change process.

Guiding others in discovering their owns solutions

Although many individuals seek solace in doing what others advise them to do, “the one size fits all” approach to problem solving can be counterproductive. People often feel more satisfaction when they identify and follow through on a self-determined change path. This also reinforces their sense of agency. Creating space for them to listen more intently to their own inner wisdom, and brainstorming potential pathways for change, are two ways you can assist others in making decisions aligned with their personal values and motivations.

Transformational power of belief

The degree to which you believe in someone and communicate that belief through your words and actions can play a huge role in unlocking their potential and igniting their belief in themselves. By demonstrating your belief in someone through your choice of words and actions, you can encourage others to strengthen their confidence to make decisions and take actions towards achieving their goals.

Ultimately, there is no magic formula when helping someone. Still, your genuine intention and presence matters tremendously to someone expressing a need. Sometimes the greatest gift we give to someone else is the gift of their own self exploration and self actualization. That can mean understanding tactically how to move out of their and your own way, being fully present and fully open to their change process.


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