Sometimes life brings us into some situations that can be very emotionally difficult for us. We can find ourselves overwhelmed with emotions and struggling with how to cope with what it is we are going through.
Though it is challenging for us when we are the ones stressed out and/or depressed, it can be even more challenging when the stressed or depressed person is a loved one. We may find ourselves really empathizing with them and fall into a caretaker role to try to take their pain away for them. Other times, we may find ourselves overwhelmed and annoyed by their problems and wish they could just “get over it”.
The key here is to really set balanced boundaries, so that the other person has the space to really take care of themselves while you can still take care of yourself. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Don’t expect that some advice will magically “clear it all up”.
Often times, if someone else is suffering (and even if we ourselves are suffering), go into “advice mode”. We either start giving advice or asking for advice. However, the irony is that ultimately advice is not going to solve the problem.
Yes, you read that right: More often than not, advice is not going to solve the problem. Sure, some little tidbits of advice can help here and there but most of the time it’s just a matter of emotionally processing the issue. So many times the best we can do is provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
Provide a listening ear, but set boundaries so you don’t get drained.
As I just stated, most of the time people just need to talk through things out loud with someone else in order to fully process what they are going through. While this is a good thing to do, you also want to be sure that you’re taking care of yourself.
Listening to a loved one cry on the phone for an hour can be very emotionally draining – and taking phone calls at 1 o’clock in the morning can make you pretty tired. So be sure to set a boundary by saying something like “Hey sorry I’m busy right now” or “I’m tired, I need to sleep” when you feel it is necessary.
And if you happen to catch yourself feeling guilty for setting a boundary, remember that they will survive. More often then not, the world isn’t going to end for them simply because you told them you can’t right now or because you don’t answer right away.
Let the drama end with you.
Sure, dealing with a stressed or depressed loved one can be, well, stressful but try not to let your loved one’s problems take over your life. Meaning: You don’t need to talk to everyone in your life about your loved one’s problems. Doing so usually just causes us a lot more unnecessary stress both for ourselves and the other people we talk to.
Avoid being judgmental.
Sometimes after a while of listening to our loved one talk about their problems for so long, we can find ourselves annoyed and wanting to say things like “Oh can’t you just get over it already?” This is a big no-no!
Also, if they’re playing the “blame game” by either blaming the other person or themselves it’s often better to just not even “pick a side”. The truth is that the only people who really know what happened were the people that were directly involved. So it’s often best to try to keep it as neutral as possible.
Express your care.
Along with providing a listening ear, the simplest and best thing that we can do is to express our love and care to our loved one. We can simply do this by saying things like “I’m here for you”, “Let me know if you need anything”, “I love you”, “I care about you”, and so on.
Ultimately, keep in mind that its the simple and little acts that we do that can have a much bigger impact than anything else.