How To Give Advice That Will Actually Make Someone Feel Better

We all have moments in our lives when we feel down, and there are countless ways people will try to cheer us up. When somebody is trying to lift my spirits, I have found that certain methods are more successful than others.

Sometimes when you turn to others for advice, they try to put the situation into a different perspective. They remind you that other people “have it worse.” For example, they might tell you, “You think that you have it bad?? Look at all the starving children in Africa.” Although comments like this can temporarily put your situation into perspective, they are not always helpful, especially if you are really hurting. If you are a sensitive person like me, chances are that you are still upset about your problem, but also become upset about the other person’s problems too.

Whenever somebody tells me a sad story when I’m already upset, I start thinking about how the world is filled with so many problems that are seemingly unfixable. What was already a sad moment, has now turned into a sobbing fest. What’s important to remember though, is that even though your situation might seem less drastic, this does not make your problem insignificant. When other people share these stories with me, I become frustrated. It’s as if they are telling me that I don’t have a right to my own feelings. We all understand that some problems are more severe than others. If somebody is asking for advice about a serious problem, I don’t think that putting the situation into perspective is the best solution.

Another response that people give is, Think positive! Maybe everything could be all better tomorrow! Look at all the good things in your life! Think about that!” Although I do appreciate the sentiment behind this response, I don’t think that telling people to mask their problems with positive thinking is the answer. Sometimes when you’re upset, it’s hard to think positive. This response seems to avoid the problem, and is telling the person to bottle their feelings up. Sometimes you need to actively think about your problem to find a solution. Living it allows you to resolve it. You should allow yourself to express your feelings in a healthy manner. You can’t always just “snap out of it.” It isn’t always that simple. Often, you just want the other person to validate your feelings and say, I understand why you are upset, and help you think about ways to solve the problem.

I think that the best way to cheer someone up is to help them to get to the root of the problem. Find out what caused the problem, and help them to take the necessary steps toward a solution. For example, if they are upset about a failed relationship, ask them why they think the relationship ended. Tell them about some strategies that they could use to cope with this situation. Do not just leave them hanging. You would want the same consideration if you needed help. If somebody asks me for advice, and I’m not sure how to help, I always try to refer them to somebody who can, or take time out of my day to help them mull over their options. It is not right to just leave somebody stranded when they are looking for guidance.

If somebody turns to you for help, don’t bombard them with negative stories, or with platitudes about positive thinking. Also, do not leave them hanging. Help them to find the root of the problem and solve it, or at least refer them to someone who can.

Featured Image Via Brandy Melville

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