Encouragement and comfort can feel awfully different to each one of us. Relying on him for reassurance is not a weakness. In fact, if you are pursuing physical, emotional, and spiritual health, you best allow yourself to receive support from others.

Speaking of physical fitness, if you need an excuse not to go to the gym, know this: Every seven minutes of every day, someone working out somewhere pulls a hamstring. You know what they say: In every bookstore, the two biggest sellers are cookbooks and diet books. The cookbooks teach you how the food is cooked, and the diet books tell you how not to eat any of it.

But sincerely, when it comes to receiving a helping hand, do you tend to need a bit or a lot? Does he try to “fix” you or does she constantly offer unsolicited advice instead of just offering you compassion or kindliness?

How about when someone hijacks your moment so that they can now share their own story instead of actually listening to you? It takes patience to listen. It takes skill to pretend you’re listening. Ouch. Emotional support is not a “one size fits all” for sure. Please be sincere and heartfelt and do not minimize what she is going through. Give him a bit of space to process his feelings if he expresses this need.

Consider others’ views; and if you disagree, do it in a caring and charitable way. No one really wants their cherished ideas judged or flat-out rejected. So, please, make sure that they still feel good about themselves and not judged by you. Of course, the trouble with having an open mind is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

“I’ve been there. I know exactly how you must feel.” Sorry, but with all due respect, you do not. Your situation may be similar, but you are not in her shoes. Do not use dismissive clichés, please. “It’s always darkest right before the dawn.” She’s worried about aging, and you said: The older you get, the better you get – unless you’re a banana. Sheesh.

When it comes to unsolicited advice, it’s been said: When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway. You can always ask: “Would you like some ideas about how to handle this?”

What may help is surprising her with small gifts at the most unexpected times. Oh, and I hope you love the present you exchange my gift for. Compliment him in front of friends or associates. There is nothing that compares with the three little words: “I love you.” Not only will she feel good about herself hearing them, she will feel so good about you.

It’s all right to ask: “How can I help?” Do not allow yourself to be distracted when he’s sharing. Relax and be present. Knowing that we are heard is among the most reassuring feelings that we humans have. Listen deeply when she shares. Put all distractions away, including your phone. I know. You’re not always attached to your phone. Sometimes it’s charging. But truly, try not to even tune into your own mind. Check your tone of voice often. Does it convey an unintentional message like pessimism? Is it loving?

It’s been said: “It’s okay to look at the past and future. Just don’t stare.” Please, gently remind her to stay in the present. When we lift others to a higher ground, oftentimes they can now see their way out of their own problem or predicament. It’s okay to offer to pray for someone. Faith builds intestinal fortitude and strength of character.

Are you in an emotional fetal position right now? Help others to meet your needs. Let them know if you need a hug, help with solving a challenge, or just a listening, sympathetic ear. Expect ups and downs in life, sweet friends, but know that the pain will eventually lessen.

Encourage your sad friend to stay busy, even if it’s doing daily activities. Sure, you can offer to work out with him, too. Every morning, I do five sit-ups. It may not seem like a big number, but hey, you can only press the snooze button so many times.

Please do not hesitate to ask her: How can I support you? You’re usually done hearing people before they even finish talking, because you’re a fast listener? Uh-oh. Just knowing that someone has heard about your pain can make a huge difference to you. Support can take many forms. No matter what sort – whether financial, emotional, or spiritual – it will no doubt improve her outlook or his general wellness. Do not underestimate the power of a caring presence, sweet friends.

You may ask them to reflect on their situation. “Have you ever been in a situation like this before?” What helped then? As always, please keep your hearts open to be caring and compassionate. You don’t know whose burden you may have lightened today.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.