This holiday time is already a very near and dear time for me to really push and support those who find it extremely hard to enjoy the season. Whether it be because of loneliness, extra stress, etc., many are really hurting. In the news this week, there was a very shocking and unfortunate loss of a man who looked extremely happy and is said to had taken his own life.
The phrase, “Check on your strong friend,” has yet again resurfaced. Now, although this is the exact person I coach, I want to provide YOU with some insight on the strong people in your life. I am hoping this will help you best know how to communicate and support them.
But first-IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, PLEASE call, text or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to speak with a trained counselor who can provide support and connect them to local resources if necessary.
Like the 911 emergency service, the number is staffed 24/7 nationwide , with a network of over 200 state and local crisis call centers.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE “STRONG FRIEND” :
They are “strong” for a reason. They have conditioned themselves to always know how to tackle hard things and no matter how tough it gets, they will figure it out.
It is easy for them to hide behind this, because they either don’t want to be seen as “weak” or they avoid their own problems by helping you with yours. In the past, people have either not been able to support them or have genuinely never checked in so they feel they are a burden if they DO ask for help…thinking it’s too much for someone else to handle or that they will be rejected for asking.
“Checking In” is simply not enough. As I mentioned, they are conditioned to acting like everything is okay. If you just say, “Hey, just wanted to check in and see if you’re okay…” -their auto response is to say that they are fine and brush it off easily. When you do this, you are letting them off the hook, when in reality, you may just be confirming unintentionally the thought in their minds that no one really cares. Even though we all know that isn’t true.
HOW TO CHECK IN ON THE STRONG FRIEND
MAKE TIME TO SIT WITH THEM This isn’t just for the strong friends, this is for everyone. Sit with them and genuinely learn about what’s going on in their lives. The strong friend may try to push the conversation onto you, but make sure you learn about what’s going on in their world.
Ask more questions Start by asking what are some things going well in their lives. Ask them, “What are some things you haven’t really shared with anyone?” Here’s some other ideas on questions to start with: *What’s something that didn’t go to plan for you this week? *What have been some things stressing you out lately? *How have you been taking care of YOURSELF lately?
Ask what it is that YOU can help with This is one of my favorite communication tactics to incorporate with my people… “Do you need to vent? Are you needing some words of encouragement? Do you need advice on something?” Another thing you can do is ask them if there is anything you can do that can help eliminate some of the stress they’re experiencing. Offer a solution of helping run an errand, go somewhere with them, etc.
To wrap this all up, make time and space for those you love. This world always brings so many distractions. We are all busy. We all have a lot of things that are taking priority in our lives, but we all have to do better in really checking in and loving those around us. Especially those closest to us. We so very easily take it for granted, although I don’t believe we intentionally try to.
And if you are the strong friend, please be willing to be vulnerable. Find your safe spaces. Ask for help. Ask for a judgement-free zone to vent and get out what’s going on. You cannot expect people to see behind that mask you wear so well.
If you feel you don’t have that space, find one. Check your resources. Hire a coach, find a therapist, call that hotline.
We need to take care of one another.
I hope this was helpful and if you know someone who needs to see this, please pass it along. If there is any other way I can support, please let me know.
With So Much Love,