Although many of us wish we could do more for the people closest to us, we often have no idea where to start. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to provide support to family members, friends, neighbors and assorted acquaintances – many of which are extremely impactful despite requiring very little effort. So, if you’re currently looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of your loved ones, you’re likely to find no shortage of options from which to choose.
Be an Empathetic Listener
Many of us feel like we have no one to talk to during periods of great stress or overwhelming sadness. Even if we have friends and family members who deeply care for us, we’re often afraid of taking the first step and asking someone to lend us an ear. While not wanting to inconvenience the people in one’s life is perfectly understandable, there’s no reason to feel bad about discussing your problems with a loved one.
So, the next time you become aware that someone in your life is struggling, be proactive and offer to hear them out without being asked. Even if they don’t feel like talking at that very second, this will ensure that they know they can come to you whenever they’re ready to open up. In some cases, simply knowing that someone cares can be a tremendous relief to people going through hard times.
When serving as an empathetic listener, make a point of hearing people out completely. Before providing your take on certain matters or attempting to offer practical advice, give the other party as much time as they need to elaborate on what’s bothering them. Regardless of how good your intentions are, interjecting, interrupting and providing unsolicited advice in such situations can prove extremely annoying and make people less likely to open up in the future.
It’s also important to recognize when you’re not qualified to provide the type of help someone needs. So, if you think a friend or relative stands to benefit from seeking professional mental health assistance, do your best to point them in the right direction.
Make Sure People Feel Included
Feeling detached from loved ones can be a hurtful experience and take a considerable toll on one’s self-esteem. Whereas some people are perfectly content with connecting with friends and family members on an infrequent basis, others feel excluded in the absence of regular communication and/or interaction. So, if anyone in your circle has come to feel unimportant or insignificant, get in touch with them and let them know that they are as important as ever. Furthermore, make a point of inviting them to any upcoming gatherings or get-togethers – or even arranging events like this for the purpose of reconnecting with the party in question.
Since seniors often feel excluded and disconnected from friends and family, it’s particularly important to stay in touch with the old folks in your life. So, if you have any elderly friends or relatives who don’t get much in the way of human interaction, take care to touch base with them on a regular basis and include them in assorted get-togethers. Additionally, if there are any tasks with which they have trouble – such as driving and running certain errands – don’t hesitate to volunteer your services.
Connect Over Shared Causes
Connecting over shared causes can be a great way to forge even stronger bonds with friends and relatives. So, if there are any charitable organizations or important causes about which you and any loved ones are deeply passionate, you can help facilitate positive change while strengthening your connections with others. For example, if you want to help prevent targeted violence, combat human trafficking or promote human rights, consider getting involved with the McCain Institute.
Although many of us have fostered close connections with a wide assortment of friends and family members, we’re not always there for our loved ones in times of need. In many cases, we don’t even realize when the people closest to us are going through periods of distress. However, even if you’ve placed certain relationships on the backburner, it’s never too late to step in and offer a helping hand should the need arise. Anyone looking to be a bringer of positive change should consider the options outlined above.