Have you ever gone to someone horribly upset and found that everything that they said just made it worse? I certainly have, and I have often found myself in the reverse situation: upsetting someone who had come to me for help.
I was terrified when my loved one went through a breakup last week. Absolutely terrified. Because I have never been in a breakup and I had no way of understanding what she was going through. And so rather than giving out my usual array of advice and condolences, I had no idea what to say to her. Nothing. What could I say?
And so instead, for the first time ever, I shut my mouth and simply listened. I listened to everything that she had to say, the stories that she told ten times not because she had forgotten that she had told them, but because she needed to tell them ten times. I nodded and smiled, hugged her when she needed it, and did not try to understand because I knew that I couldn't.
And I helped. At least, I think/hope I did. More than I usually do.
And it hit me. How eager we all are to put in our two cents, to bring up similar situations that we have been in and pretend that they are the same. Pretend that we have someone amazing insight that the person who is actually living it does not have.
When I am upset, unless I ask for advice, I don’t want. When I am confiding in someone, I don’t want them to start talking about themselves and acting like an expert about my situation. I want them to listen to me. That is it. They don’t need to say anything; they just need to listen in way that shows that they care.
So if your friend comes to confide in you, no matter how big or small their problem is, simply let them. Hug or comfort them if they need it. And let them know that they are loved, and that you will always be there for them.