How to Help Anyone
Jul 10, 2018
We make assumptions as to how they got there. We judge people by what we think we see. Whether rich or poor, no one's life is perfect.
You don't know someone's story until you get to know them. Remember everything is relative to perspective.
What looks like a tragedy to you is a blessing to someone else. What you wish for, someone else may be trying to get away from.
- One person feels trapped in an abusive household and can't get away from their family. Another person would do anything to feel like they're a part of a family.
- One person dreads going to work every day, trying to figure out how to quit a job they hate, while someone else is praying for a job of any kind so they can support themselves or their family.
- One person is so lonely they'll put up with almost anything to have or keep a partner, while another person can't figure out how to get out of the relationship they feel trapped in.
If you want to offer someone support, you have to understand where they are. They can't grab a helping hand if it's not where they can reach it. If you coming from a place of your own goals, not theirs, someone is going to wind up disappointed.
(To envision what this means: They can't grab your hand if you're in your own space. You have to meet them where they are so can reach you, so you can reach them, and then the connection is formed.)
If you want to help someone, start by asking questions. Get to know them. Hear their story. Most importantly, LISTEN to their answers.
Then and only then, will you know what they need and how you can help. Whether you can help or not, the healing is in the story.
When you tell a story for the first time, it sounds like that of a victim. When you tell they story as you heal, you'll notice the story sounds less like a victim and more of a place of empowerment.
Someone who was a victim of abuse doesn't want to share their story out of fear. (The abuser may have threatened them if they tell or they're afraid you'll judge them or their abuser, who they may have an unhealthy bond with.)
The first time they tell someone, they may even justify the abuse: they should've been better behaved and not made them mad. Eventually, as they hear themselves tell the story and gain perspective, they feel worthy of being treated better. That's the first step - to know you deserve better.
As they tell the story, they feel more empowered, now that someone's listening.
To suggest they call an abuse hotline right away will prove pointless. You're trying to help. You know that option is available to them......but......They won't do it. They're not ready for that yet.
If you feel they are literally in immediate physical danger, call. Do what you have to do, but TELL THEM you're doing so. They may get upset with you for "butting in" their business, but you can tell them why you're doing it. Otherwise, they'll likely see it as a betrayal of their confidence and you'll never hear from them again.
What will happen: authorities investigate, they are offered to press charges, they decline or they do press charge, but then drop the charges.
Now, they've pissed off their abuser and likely got in more trouble or they forgave the abuser only to fall victim again, but you betrayed their confidence so they can't talk to you anymore.
Or they feel you'll judge them because they were a fool to take them back. They're busy beating themselves up. They don't want to hear your "I told you so"s. (That's what they'll hear from their perspective, no matter how hard you try.)
Listen from a place of listening, not solving. Understand where they are. If you have story that relates, share it with them so they know you won't judge them. ("Who am I to judge when I've made similar mistakes?" or "Nothing you say will surprise me because I've heard these stories before".)
When we're in the middle of a mess (as far as we're concerned), we feel like no one understands. That abandoned feeling is what leaves us vulnerable. It perpetuates fear: of being judged, of making the same mistakes over and over again, of trusting the wrong people. When someone is listening, we feel valued (someone actually wants to know me), supported (someone wants me to be happy) and empowered (I trust them enough that I can be honest with them and ask for help if I need to).