Throughout all of our lives, we will experience times of uncertainty. From losing a job to graduating from college to going through a worldwide pandemic, there are times we may feel insecure, precarious, or even in danger. However, often, it’s the worry, anxiety, and feelings of isolation that can really bring down our spirits, more than what triggered them in the first place.
With this lack of control, it’s easy to slip into a feeling of helplessness. But, instead of allowing the uncontrollable circumstances to bring about anxiety and fear, focus on showing compassion and helping others through their own personal struggles. When you focus on and take responsibility for someone else, it can offer a calming effect on you as well.
Hugs and holding hands can offer the comforting power of touch, but they only help for so long. There are more ways to comfort someone in stressful, unpredictable times. Here is how to show compassion to others in times of uncertainty so they know you truly care and can be a strong shoulder to lean on.
1. Validate Their Feelings
We hear the word “empathy” a lot, but what does it truly mean? When you break it down, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. But the truth is, you may not always understand what the person is going through. And, even if you think you do, sometimes demonstrating your empathy can come out forced and awkward, which negates its intentions by looking disingenuous.
So, instead of showing empathy, show compassion by validating their feelings. Don’t act as if you know precisely what they’re going through––because you don’t. Everyone experiences uncertain situations and times differently, so avoid comparisons or trying to empathize through well-meaning but contrived or patronizing advice. Avoid showing your own reactions, giving them any sense that their feelings and emotions are wrong, dramatic, or unreasonable.
Show compassion by acknowledging and recognizing their emotions, letting them know their feelings are valid. Whether it’s a simple nod or a “like” on social media, this type of validation can go a long way.
Also, avoid toxic positivity and phrases such as “It could be worse,” or “Everything happens for a reason.” While meant innocently, these phrases are quite harmful and dismissive and add a layer of shame. Instead, listen to what they are saying and reflect it back. Say “This must be really hard for you” or “I understand why you’re so upset,” validating their emotions.
2. Practice Acts of Kindness
One way to show compassion toward others is to practice an act of kindness. Send your next-door neighbor a gift basket of their favorite wines or your best friend a playlist with some tunes that bring back nostalgic memories. However, keep in mind, this gesture may not fit everyone’s challenge. Random acts of kindness can go a long way. However, in times of uncertainty, the people closest to you need stability and normalcy.
So, instead of practicing a “random” act of kindness, try to incorporate simple, kind acts into the other’s normal daily life. For example, instead of sending a random gift out of the blue, send a gift that already has meaning or which helps to provide an escape from uncertain times. Consider their hobbies or the activities they enjoy, even if it’s a mundane activity like putting together a puzzle or tending a garden.
This isn’t to say you can’t get sentimental, though. Give a little heartfelt gift like a framed photo of a memory that makes you smile or a care package with some heartfelt items to make their life a tad bit easier. Especially when times of uncertainty may involve the death of a loved one, it’s important to acknowledge their loss in support or solidarity. Sometimes, sending over a premade dinner or sharing a memory can mean the world to them during times of grief.
Ultimately, how you practice an act of kindness depends on each unique situation. But a simple gesture of thoughtfulness can help loved ones get through the toughest of times. Acts of kindness can even spread, in a “pay it forward” kind of way.
3. Show Authenticity and Be Honest
In times of uncertainty, it’s essential to show authenticity and be honest toward others. Instead of hiding the truth or trying to be tough, be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your emotions right along with them. This is another way in which you can validate their feelings, ensuring them that they’re not acting dramatic or being ridiculous.
If they ask, share your own struggles and hardships with honesty, not hiding the negative parts but not complaining about the circumstances either. Offering wisdom can build trust with someone who is going through their own uncertain times. However, it’s critical to identify with their struggles but not compare or spill out ill-intentioned phrases of toxic positivity.
4. Show Up and Be Present
Showing up for others in times of uncertainty demonstrates that you will always be there for them … no matter what! Everyone needs emotional support from family members, their partner, or friends, so be a link in the chain and be a part of their support structure, taking off some of the burdens when you can. It could be as simple as walking the dog or picking up groceries. And, sometimes, all they need is a distraction like a walk in the woods or to binge-watch a TV series together.
At the end of the day, however, let them know you’re always there for them and that they can call whenever they need. Better yet, beat them to the punch and call them first. Sometimes, showing up is about checking in on them periodically.
And, once you’re there together in person or on the phone, be present! Put your phone on silent, listen, and validate their feelings. Nod and smile and let them know you will support them through thick and thin.
Article Submitted By Community Writer