5 Ways to Offer Comfort


I’m not an easy person to comfort.

I find it incredibly irritating when I confide in someone and they immediately try to fix the problem.

But for a lot of people, that’s the default way to comfort their loved ones. 

And I get it. It sucks to see someone you love hurting.

But sometimes, the best ways to comfort aren’t about “fixing” the problems causing their pain.

Sometimes, we already know what we need to do and we just want to know someone else is there for us. Other times, we need to voice our pain out loud, and let it be heard as we feel our own way into a solution.

Regardless of where we’re at, though, the following 5 alternatives to the typical “fixing” approach are much better to use the next time someone comes to you for comfort.

1. Let them feel.

The biggest problem that occurs when forcing someone to take on a “fix-it” mentality in the midst of their pain is that you’re not allowing them to feel it. And in order for them to maintain a clear enough head to find their own solution, they need to be given the chance to feel and overcome their pain.. If they want to cry, lend them a shoulder. If they want to scream and break things, give them a (healthy) outlet (remember what Augustus did for Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars?). Let the emotion pour out in whatever form they need it to (just make sure no laws and or bones get broken in the process).

2. Lend an ear.

Listen. Just listen. If you need to speak, encourage them to speak more. But stop trying to fix their problems in your head or determine your response. JUST LISTEN. If they wanted your advice, they would ask for it. If not, they probably just want someone to talk to. Be that person. Let them vent.

3. Express empathy.

Let them know that you understand what they’re going through. Put yourself in their shoes, and notice how it feels. Only then can you give voice to the feeling. “That sounds really frustrating.” or “How terrifying!” or “That must have really hurt.” Show you understand without telling them you understand.

4. Give a hug.

Hugs are healing, the universal magic touch of comfort. Wrap your arms around them like you mean it and squeeze your love into them. Sometimes, all we need is that solid reminder that we are held and loved.

5. Offer to help.

This should be the very last thing you do when you’re trying to comfort someone, but if you honestly have a feasible solution to their problem, by all means, let them know you’d be happy to help. And by “help” I don’t mean offering them a solution that you think they should enact. I mean a solution that you personally can help out with. Can you cook them meals? Help out with childcare? Lend some money? If there’s a need you can fill, offer your support. They might not take you up on it, but sometimes, it’s the thought that truly counts.

a visual list of the 5 alternatives to comfort: let them feel, listen, empathize, give a hug, and offer concrete help

How do you feel about the alternatives listed here? Do you have any other suggestions that you prefer?

Let me know on one of our socials!

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