Monday, May 21, 2012

7 Ways to Help a Friend through a Bad Time

Recently a friend had a huge fight with her grown daughter -- and any woman knows that mother-daughter issues can seem insurmountable. I barely know the daughter, as I got to be friends with the mother after she'd gone off to college, so I really have no dog in this fight -- and I can only see the daughter's side clairvoyantly. But as a friend, it's my job to help my friend as best I can. So I thought about what I could do to help, and here's what I came up with (for simplicity, female pronouns/adjectives are understood to include both male and female):
  • Listen neutrally - Sometimes people just need to vent, that is, they need a shoulder to cry on. You can be that 'shoulder' really well by staying neutral yourself, and by doing Rogerian therapy. This is a fancy term for mirroring someone's body position and repeating their words back to them. For example, if your friend says, "I'm upset", you say, "I hear you're upset", or "I get that you're upset", or "You're upset about...?" or "What exactly is upsetting you?" The main point here is that you repeat their word, in this case, "upset". Do NOT substitute "angry" or "sad" or any other word -- this will change their experience, either to something inauthentic, or it will pop them out of any feeling at all.
  • Brainstorm actions she can take - After the emotion has been released, it's time for your friend to figure out what to do about the situation. You can take notes, or perhaps even offer ideas. Remember, you're just throwing ideas out there. It's important to be unattached to whether or not any of them (especially yours!) are ever put into action.
  • Do chores or run errands - Sometimes, in a crisis, especially one where someone is ill or physically harmed, the most help you can provide is with your hands and feet: picking up a prescription, watching the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning house, etc. All of those can be sanity savers.
  • Teach her ho'oponopono - This is a very simple exercise of holding someone's image in your mind, and then repeating, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." For the background on ho'oponopono, as well as some amazing examples of its efficacy, listen to this interview with Marci Shimoff and this story from a listener who heard my interview with Marci.
  • Teach her to cut cords (or do it for her with her permission) - People send streamers of energy, called cords, to others. They can send positive energy (e.g., love) or negative energy (e.g., negative judgements). Sometimes they even use cords like vacuum cleaners, to suck energy out of others (the original energy vampires). You can ask to be shown where these cords are, and then cut them, attaching the free ends to white light.
  • Teach her to ground - It always helps to connect to Mother Earth. This is just a simple visualization, like growing roots from your feet into the center of the Earth, and then pulling up healing energy from Her.
  • Remind her of the power of prayer - If she believes in nonphysical beings (angels, guides, ancestors, fairies, God/Goddess, whatever) that can be of help, these should be enlisted. They might help -- and there's no harm in asking. At least your friend might feel comforted by the reminder that help is out there. 

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