Are You Ok?

We’ve all come to that point at some stage, where we find ourselves struggling to keep our head above the water. Whether that’s on account of financial problems, health issues, relationship breakdowns, or something else, we all inevitably find ourselves in a tough situation at some point.

Our natural response is to hide the issues, whether from guilt, embarrassment, or pride. Yet, these are actually the times that it’s so important for us to get support, or be that support if we see others struggling. Suffering in silence is not good for anyone.

Most of us though are just really bad at sharing. We keep feelings and worries bottled up until they get to some form of destructive breaking point, whether physically, emotionally, or behaviourally.

It all begins with a simple question: “Are you okay?” Maybe it’s you stating “I’m not ok”

We often know when a friend or colleague is not themself. What we don’t often do is ask if they’re actually ok. This is particularly the case if they’re being difficult, aggressive, or distant. It feels easier to just stay clear of them and avoid their issues becoming your issue. 

Most people are too proud to admit when something is eating at them, but you shouldn’t take their silence as “Everything is okay.” By proactively asking this simple question, it can be the trigger they need to open up and start moving in a positive direction.

Even if you don’t know what to say or feel awkward, don’t discount yourself. Everyone appreciates having a person who can listen and help them through a difficult situation. In fact, sometimes saying less is better.

When someone shares their problems and worries with us, we often try to make them feel better by minimizing their situation.

“Oh, you know, I went through this same thing.”

“You know, it’s not as bad as it seems.”

Of course, it’s not the end of the world. Of course, people have had to deal with worse. Of course, they’ll survive this. 

But what the person feels at that moment is real. They are in pain, and they need to go through it on their terms. Being there, listening to their worries and offering support is enough. There may be some opportunity to add support where relevant with simple encouragement such as:

They are not alone, and you’re there for them.

Remind the person that they are not alone; they don’t have to bear everything alone or suffer in silence. You shouldn’t discount their suffering, but you should always offer your time and support to them. As simple as it might sound, knowing that they can rely on someone is truly empowering.

The pain is temporary.

Sure, this sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. When we are in pain, we often feel like it’s going to last forever. But by reminding ourselves and others of that simple truth, we begin seeing our situation a bit differently.

Take it step by step.

Bad situations often feel like an impenetrable jungle at first glance. Negative thoughts creep up on us, and we begin imagining all sorts of awful scenarios. We need to remind ourselves and others that even the most difficult problems can be solved if we break them down and make small, consistent progress on them.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

It’s not their fault.

During difficult times, we often blame ourselves for what’s happened. However, it’s often not the case. Sometimes, bad things happen, and it’s important for us to understand that not everything is our fault. This is neither helpful nor productive.

They are doing a good job.

When someone close to you is struggling despite doing everything they can, remind them that they are doing a good job.

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