How not to fall into despair when helping a loved one in need

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Helping a person who has a problem so that it does not get worse is difficult. It is no coincidence that this problem is widely discussed, including in the media space, and psychologists advise how to do it right .

But there is one more important point that is little talked about – what happens to the one who helps. He needs to watch words and deeds so that the victim can more easily go through his grief. But the closer a person is to the epicenter of a nuclear explosion of other people’s problems, the more it irradiates him. An assistant sees how a loved one suffers, he worries, worries. It happens that he can no longer lend a hand to pull someone out of the pit of despair. He himself is already almost in it.

We will figure out together with psychologists how to help and at the same time not suffer yourself.

Take care of yourself

Usually, among the first recommendations on how to help, there will be tips that solve quite everyday issues. To cope with the problem, you need to be healthy and strong. So it’s good to feed a person, give him a rest, sleep, and so on.

But those who help him must also remain healthy. Therefore, it is important to monitor your well-being.

Natalia Dyudneva

Emotionally Focused Therapist.

They say on airplanes: in case of depressurization of the cabin, put the mask on yourself first, and then on the child. I would call this the main motto for someone who intends to help a person in need.

When we studied the topic of trauma at the institute, the teacher regularly reminded us of the need to take care of ourselves. Even conversations on complex topics deprive a resource. And direct contact with grief, with heavy feelings of loss, bitterness, hopelessness, hopelessness – and even more so.

Those who are unable to stand on their feet from fatigue and are completely exhausted emotionally cannot help. Therefore, it is important to eat well, rest and take care of your well-being.

Natalya Dyudneva advises making a list of available things that bring a sense of calm and security, and use it. Options can be absolutely anything, but it’s good if they involve taste and tactile sensations. For example, sleep, drink sweet tea, eat salty cookies, wrap yourself in a soft blanket, sing, dance, do physical exercises, play with a dog, take a walk, work with earth or clay, chat with friends, and so on.

Separate yourself from those close to you

It seems that dropping everything and constantly being next to a person in need is a great idea to support him. This is not so, because you will not be able to help in the long run if you are completely immersed in someone else’s grief. It is important to find the boundary between your life and not your life.

Elena Masolova

Psychologist, Gestalt therapist.

In such situations it is very easy to lose oneself, as if to merge with the one who is grieving. And then the person begins to worry as if it were his misfortune, to feel what the loved one is experiencing. Even bodily sensations can coincide.

The only way not to lose yourself in a situation like this is to be in touch with your experiences. Ask yourself, how do I feel right now? What bodily sensations do I have? This will help you get back to yourself and your emotions. And they will definitely be different from the experiences of the grieving. It is important to constantly bring yourself back to reality, reminding yourself that this is not your situation.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to do this, because you have already experienced similar experiences and have not received support.

Natalia Dyudneva

Emotionally Focused Therapist.

Maybe by supporting a loved one, you want to help yourself. In this case, it is important to note that you and the person who is now in trouble are different people. And therefore, it is worth separately asking the person experiencing grief what he wants, and separately taking care of that part of himself that began to “sick” and remind of himself. In the same way, ask her what she wants and do it for her healing. For example, contact a psychologist, talk about what happened with someone close to you.

Difficult emotions are best experienced with someone. And the feeling of “I’m not alone in this” gives an invaluable experience. After all, you are ready to support the grieving, so for sure there is someone nearby who wants to help you.

Try not to see the pain, but the problem

When a loved one is in trouble, the first thing you encounter is his feelings and emotions. And immerse yourself in them, where without it. But to help, it is worth approaching the issue more rationally.

Maria Eril

Psychologist and Head of Communication Psychology at Business Speech.

If you decide to help a loved one without special education, you must be prepared for the fact that part of his experiences will remain with you.

The main recommendation is this: try to see not the pain, but the problem. It needs to be precisely defined. For example, not “my loved one ruins himself with alcohol”, but “alcoholism”. Not “my pregnant friend was on the verge of survival”, but “financial difficulties”. It is important to separate the problem from the person and work directly towards the solution.

Remember that the responsibility for salvation lies with the other person, not you.

If you are too zealous to help, you can only spoil everything.

Olga Malkovskaya

Psychotherapist, psychologist.

There are situations when a person is not ready to take responsibility and solve a problem, but expects a loved one to decide everything for him. As a result, you can get into the vicious circle of Karpman “Pursuer-Rescuer-Victim”. You start to save the victim, but then you see that she doesn’t want to change anything, and you turn into a pursuer who “does good”. Then you run out of strength, you may not hold boundaries and take on someone else’s responsibility. Feelings of guilt begin to overcome you, and you become a victim yourself.

In order not to fall into this triangle, it is important to share responsibility for solving life’s difficulties. Don’t become a lifeguard.

Everything here is almost like a parable. If you can teach a man to fish, do it. If you are expected to carry carp and pike to him every day, this is a disservice.

Maria Eril

Psychologist and Head of Communication Psychology at Business Speech.

For example, in order to save a person from financial difficulties, you need not to get money from your own wallet, but to show that he can learn a new profession or properly organize his expenses.

Make sure your loved one learns to solve the problem, and not just shift it onto you. Make it clear that you are not the one who will always do something for him, like a mother tying her child’s shoelaces. You are the one who will not leave you in trouble and support, who will be there while a person learns to cope with difficulties on his own.

Sometimes important help is to step back in time and make it clear that your loved one can go further without relying on you.

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