In the World of Wellness: Helping others, helping ourselves
Laura Bolter Design
Our teacher asked us what we would do if we saw someone crying. Responses in the room ranged from going over to them and offering them a tissue to hugging them and/or holding them. To our shock, she informed us that we were all very, very wrong. While, she said, this was a normal act and what most people do, the best way to let people heal is to not interfere with their healing process. Since we all heal in different ways, assuming that someone may need a tissue or may need to be comforted is really just something we do to comfort ourselves, to help us cope with them being sad because we don't know what to do with ourselves while we watch someone else suffer.
She went on further to explain that while crying is a release, most definitely, it is also many times something that leads to a breakthrough for that person. However, if they're interrupted, well, so is the breakthrough, so is the healing.
Let's apply this in a different way.
Have you ever walked up to a door the same time as, say, someone in a wheel chair and offered to open the door for them? This is obviously a nice act, a kind gesture. Often, it is met with a 'thank you' and sincere appreciation. Have you ever considered the alternative? That maybe this person would prefer to open their own door, for a variety of reasons. That maybe, while of course you're being nice, they don't want to be treated differently than anyone else?
This way of thinking is tricky. You want to help, but should you? Is it the right time, is it appropriate, is it what's really optimal for the other person? The best way to approach situations like this - whether someone is crying or someone may need a door opened - is to ask: Is there anything you need from me? Is there anything I can do to help? Would it be alright if I assisted you? Even just letting them know, "I'm here if you need anything, but I won't assume you need X or Y unless you tell me" is a very kind gesture in and of itself. I assure you, people will tell you what they need.
I'm still not very good at this. I still catch myself "messing up" and forgetting to ask. Sometimes, though, sometimes I get it right and every time that I do that other person surprises me. Sometimes, they want me to just sit there with them in silence. Sometimes, they do want that tissue. Sometimes, they want me to
This weekend was full of sadness across the US. A former contestant from The Voice was shot, as were many people in Orlando at an LGBT club shooting. Two completely different acts of senseless violence. A lot of people are going to be hurting. A lot of people will be taking steps to heal.
Your part in this is important, even if you completely forget to ask if they need you and instead run right up and hug the heck out of them. You being there for someone who is suffering is vital. It is helpful. It is kindness and humanity coming together when it seems like there is neither kindness nor humanity left in this world. While you're hugging the heck out of them, I still suggest asking what it is you can do to help. Their answer might surprise you, but their answer is what they truly need to help heal.
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another." - Charles Dickens