How to Help Someone Who Feels Depressed or Anxious

This has been one of the toughest two days of my life. I was about to give up on almost everything I believed in. I felt no one cared about me, except maybe God and my family.  However, just reading through other people’s blogs, gave me a renewed sense of purpose and passion that I hadn’t felt during that time.  So, a special thank you to my blogging community to give me the strength and the drive to keep on keeping on!

Since there is much stigma and misconceptions in the general society today on what to do (and what not to do) when someone you love or care about feels depressed or anxious, here are some tips that have helped me and many people I care about who get depressed and/or anxious. (Also includes what not to do and/or say to someone who is depressed and/or anxious):

1) Validate what they are going through.– This does not mean always agreeing with them about the lifestyle choices they made or sounding like a parrot to them. That does not help them either! This does mean to listen attentively and offer compassion and love to them. For instance, if the anxious person tells you about what they really fear, instead of ridiculing them or telling them to “toughen up. It’s only_______ (fill in the blank with what they fear),” thank them for having the courage to tell you about their deepest feelings and being vulnerable, because, as I (and many others) can attest, it takes a LOT of courage to be vulnerable like that. Don’t ruin their trust in you!  If they are depressed, a good thing to say to him or her is, ” Your feelings are valid. I am sorry that you are feeling that way. Know that you are not alone though. I care, and is there anything I can do to help you?” This statement does several things: a.) Shows that you care about how the person feels, not just caring about your own feelings. b.) The open-ended question lets the person know that they are allowed to make their own decision about what you can do to help them, and makes them feel less controlled and trapped in whatever situation or situations they may find themselves.

2) Make every effort to be there for them during this difficult time.—It is understandable to be busy with life’s responsibilities, and there is a certain point where it can be too much for one person to be responsible for another’s happiness and comfort. If that is the case, find several other people who can care for or talk to the depressed and/or anxious person during this time. Also, recommend and/or find a licensed counselor or therapist to help them. This way a.) The person knows that they don’t have to fight their illness alone and that several people actually care for them.  b.) The responsibility of being there and helping the person does not fall on only one person, which if it were, would cause compassion fatigue.  However, if that is not the case, make every effort to be there for the person suffering and to care for them, even if it is just offering a listening ear.

3) Do not tell the anxious or depressed person, to “get over it” or “toughen up”. –Many people (including myself) who struggle with depression or anxiety problems are already doing the best they can to cope with what they are dealing. Again, telling them to “toughen up” or “get over it” only invalidates what they are going through and implying that they are not trying hard enough to cope with their illness. A better thing to tell a depressed or anxious person is, “I will help you through whatever you are going through. You are not alone,” and then commit to being there for him or her.

4) If the depressed person is having suicidal thoughts, do not accuse them of being selfish or uncaring.–While that may have a grain of truth (or not), accusing the depressed person of being “selfish” or telling them to “think of others first,” does not help them at all! It actually makes the depression worse because a lot of people who are that upset or sad a.) already don’t feel good about themselves. b.) aren’t usually in the mindset where they can think about others right now.  Also, someone with those kinds of thoughts often does think about others, just not in a way that makes sense to us.

5) Help them find their purpose and passion in life again.—DISCLAIMER: This may not be a viable option for everyone, but it CAN work for some people. Use your own judgment. This applies to loved ones with people who suffer from anxiety and those who suffer from depression.  This can be a simple as having joy and purpose in your own life and/or caring enough to let the person who is suffering participate in the joys of your life. For instance, if you enjoy cooking for others, you can encourage the person who is suffering to participate in what you are doing. It can also be encouraging them in the positive qualities and abilities you see in them and helping them find the motivation to cultivate them again. For instance, if you see that he or she is a normally very generous person, you can encourage him or her to give away some things he/she no longer needs but that can be useful to others in need. If he or she likes to write, encourage them to cultivate that interest again. Remind them of the positive impact they already have on others, and encourage them not to give up.

6) If they are anxious, help them gradually overcome their fears.—For instance, if the anxious person is afraid of socializing because they fear what people may think of them,  encourage them to meet one trustworthy person. If they do well in that situation, bring several people to hang out with them. Then, take them to a restaurant or some other venue with more people.  However, don’t rush them into interacting. Do it slowly.–This may take a few months or even years to accomplish.  Be patient with them, and reassure them (with both your words and actions) that they can trust you.

7.) If you are religious or spiritual, pray for them.–I personally believe in the power of prayer.  If you do too, I would suggest fervently and regularly praying for the depressed or anxious people in your life. Pray that they will be surrounded by people who care about and love them genuinely. Pray that they will find joy and hope in their lives again, and not be riddled with anxiety, depression, anger, and/or hurt.  Pray that they will be delivered from their illness and find wholeness again.

What do you suggest in helping encourage an anxious or depressed person? What do you suggest we not do? Why? Please feel free to comment below.  Please no disparaging or disrespectful comments, or they will not be approved. Thank you.

 

 

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How To Get Along With Difficult People

We all have them in our lives-People that we either don’t get along with at all, or just people that are more challenging to cope with to us.  However, sooner or later, we will be confronted with someone whom we must get along with even if it is rather difficult to do so. Using what I learned from various experiences in my life, here’s what I found are effective ways to cope with them:

  1. Don’t argue or fight with them— In my own life, I had several people who just refused to see “my side of things,” and I just tried to argue them to my side–of course to no avail! I also found the more we argued about things, the angrier I felt, and the more hopeless I felt that they’d ever be reconciled to me, or I to them. However, I found that trying to find a compromise with them, or even just letting them have their way sometimes works to avoid tense arguments with people.  For instance, if we wanted to order food for a party, and they wanted to order ice cream  for everyone, and I wanted pizza instead.-instead of me trying to argue that we should order pizza, I would just either let them order ice cream since most people would probably like either anyway, or we order half pizza and half ice cream. That way, everyone gets what they wanted. I get my pizza, and he or she gets their ice cream.
  2. Find their “Light.”–This idea originated with Rachel Scott, one of my faith heroes, in her essay “My Codes, My Ethics,” which can be found here. It basically means to find something admirable about them, other than their outer appearance. For instance, a person that I had trouble getting along with before can be a really hard worker. Additionally, this person is often very flexible. However, I would never have found that out or considered this had I only focused on all their negative personality traits! After finding their positive trait or traits (i.e.. their Light), I would try to cultivate that positive trait by encouraging them in it. For instance, I would say to that aforementioned person, “I find it really encouraging that you worked really diligently on  project today. I think it will turn out wonderfully! ” Be specific in your praise or encouragement. Name specific instances in which the person cultivate that trait. Also, be genuine and heart felt about your praise. People know whether you are being “fake” in your praise or if you genuinely mean it.
  3. Try to understand them and their point of view–If the difficult person has hurt you, try to understand their motivation behind it. It’s usually not completely malicious. Were they having a bad day? Do you rub them the wrong way? Are they going through or have they gone through something stressful or traumatic recently or in their recent past? Are they just plain evil or malicious? In order to understand their motivation, you need to attempt to cultivate some type of communication with them. You may just need to be honest and ask them, “Why aren’t we getting along?” or even “Why do you feel the need to hurt me by doing “X”?” and name specific instances where they have hurt you. Then, you will be able to find out their motivation. If they are just evil, then stay far away from them until they come to their senses and repent, but this is often rarely the case. If they are going through something stressful or traumatic, try to encourage or comfort them through it. Be there to offer them any moral support they may want or need. Did you contribute in any way to their hurting you? For instance, did you display a snarky attitude and as a result they shot back nasty words towards you (not right on their part, but understandable), apologize and make amends. I must note, that yes all and any of these situations are not excuses for anyone to hurt us, and get away from an abuser if you are able to, but trying to understand their motivation may make it easier to be at peace with them and be able to forgive them.
  4. If they come to their senses or repent, forgive them–This is easier said than done. We don’t forgive for them, or because they “deserve” it. No one deserves our forgiveness, and we don’t deserve anyone else’s either. Forgiveness is an act of grace one offers to another.  We forgive to rid ourselves of the anger, bitterness, and resentment in our souls that eats us up and threatens to destroy our other relationships or at least make them less fulfilling to us.  Also, forgiveness does not mean that the person responsible for hurting us does not need to face consequences for their actions. You are absolutely allowed (and it would be wise) to set boundaries and, if applicable, reparations be made for you and the other people affected that they hurt.
  5. If you are religious, pray for them.–I am a Christian, and one of my friends at church told me to pray for a person with whom I had problems, and to my surprise, prayer helped! My friend told me that I had to pray good things for them, and nothing bad or snarky. So, I did. I would also encourage people to thank God for specific qualities of that difficult person that are admirable. This goes back to 2.)–finding qualities of that person that are admirable or positive. Also, pray to God for the difficult person’s heart to be softened.  Praying like this changed my attitude towards them. The attitude I have towards this person now compared to before I prayed for them is nothing short of miraculous! I believe God works in mysterious and amazing ways, so we can be at peace with everyone  (or at least almost everyone).

We all have difficult people that we must cope with in our lives, whether it be people in our families, people at work or school, or in other places. In order to be successful in society, we must learn to effectively work or cope with them.  I hope these tips will help us to cope better in these challenging situations.  May we be a Light shining in the darkness, and be able to cope effectively with these difficult people, and maybe even befriend them!

Why We Should Pray for Others

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily directed towards people believing in the power of prayer. Please keep comments respectful, whether or not you believe or not, or they will be deleted. Thank you.

In another post, I discussed why prayer is so vital to our spiritual lives. Here I am going to discuss specifically why we should make sure our prayers are not only for our own needs and wishes, but others’ as well.

So, the question begs asking: Why should we pray for others, especially if we have a lot of things  we need? Here’s why:

  1. Praying for others deepens our interpersonal relationships.-When you pray for others, it requires emotional energy and investment in the person who you are praying. Even the very act of asking someone if they need prayer, may invite them to share an emotionally deep area in their lives that they may or may not have yet shared with others, but when you are willing to make an emotional investment in them, it opens the way not only for a deeper relationship with said person you’re investing, but it also shows that you care about them.
  2. It teaches us to be other-centered, rather than self-centered. -Praying for others effectively requires you to take your eyes off yourself  and onto them! It requires depending on Someone (i.e. God) other than yourself to help the other person you’re praying for. It makes you realize that there are more needs than just yours in the world.
  3. Praying for others changes our attitude (to a more positive one) towards people we pray for that may be different from us or difficult to deal with sometimes.-(My story): This is certainly true in my life. I held anger, bitterness, irritability and resentment inside for this person. One day though, someone in my church suggested that I pray for this person, asking God to bless them, etc…So, I did. It wasn’t easy, but, lo and behold, I found myself being able to forgive this person for the pain and hurt they had caused me within a few days of praying. Recently, I was angry at this person again, but God answered my prayers. I had asked God to soften their heart towards Him (God) and others, and this person seemed nicer and more patient with me these past few days. Not only did God answer that prayer, God changed me to have a better attitude towards this person.
  4. Prayer changes lives.-Praying for others, especially for them to know God’s love and hope, can be exhausting and seem unfrutiful, but if we are persistent, that prayer can change their life! I have heard people’s eternities and day-to-day lives changed, just because someone prayed for them! Also, any time God answers a prayer that you made on behalf of another person, the person will see God working in their lives, and by praying for them, you will have helped them know God better!

The Importance of Prayer

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily aimed at professing Christians and/or those who believe in the power of prayer. If you don’t, please save your emails/comments (unless they are positive) for another forum and another place, or they will be deleted. Also, even if you are a Christian, please remember to keep the comments on this post positive and NOT disparaging to me or others, or they will be deleted. Thank you for understanding.

 

A couple weeks ago, one of my current pastors convicted me of the importance of praying for my elected officials, as I was sadly lacking in that. To add to that, I didn’t even know who half of them were! No, I don’t consider myself “political” in any way, shape, or form and I am not really into the political debates of the day. However, the fact is that I still need to pray for my elected officials more, because prayer has the ability to change hearts and lives.

Not only that, this same pastor also convicted me about the importance of praying for everyone, especially those who have authority or influence over me, including my bosses at work.  Maybe if we (me included) spent less time complaining about those in authority over us such as (depending on your situation) bosses, managers, police, government officials, parents, and/or teachers, and MORE time praying to God,  then I believe at least half our problems would be solved!

Here are some benefits to prayer that I have found, and also ones that scripture alludes to:

  1. When praying with a good attitude and a righteous spirit, God hears us! –

In Psalm 5:2-4 (ESV), it says, ” Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”

“But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.”-Psalm 66:19 (KJV)

2. Prayer, especially when we or a loved one are going through difficult trials, comforts us and keeps our eyes on God. I found that when I pray through a trial in my own experience, the trials become at least a little bit easier to confront and handle. This is because I no longer obsess and focus so much on my problem or problems, but on Him who helps us through them. Prayer also helps us feel less alone.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.-Psalm 102:17 (KJV)

3. Prayer helps us cultivate a right attitude towards God and others.

In Romans 1:8-10, the passage says: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayersMaking request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (KJV-emphasis mine). Because Paul took time to pray for his parishioners, he was able to think about them on a constant and continual basis  and was able to direct his thoughts to the One Whom he was praying. If Paul failed to pray on a regular basis, not only would his relationship with God have suffered, but probably also his relationship with other believers and those around him.

Also, in Philippians 4:5-7,  Paul says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV-emphasis mine). Paul tells us to pray about everything, and that, as a result of that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Prayer helps us cultivate a right attitude towards God and others because it helps us focus on God, helps us (if done correctly) think about more than just ourselves, and through the Holy Spirit, helps us have a better attitude towards God and others in general. For instance, in my experience, when I was upset at someone at work and when I was able to actually pray for them, it helped me have a better attitude towards them, and I was no longer upset at them.

4.) To add to #3, prayer helps keep us from sin.

The old adage that “Prayer keeps us from sin, or sin keeps us from prayer.” is true, at least in my experience. Also, Jesus speaks to that in Luke 22:44-46, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (KJV-emphasis mine). Jesus was saying to His disciples that they should pray to keep themselves from being tempted to sin. Also in 1 Corinthians 10:13, when it says, ” No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” the way of escape may very well be prayer!  Of course, it may be other things which God wills too, but no one can really stop you from praying not to succumb to temptation!

5.) Prayer can change lives.

I’ve heard about countless stories about people praying for others and how their prayers were answered and how God working in and through their prayers was able to change positively both their own and others’ lives for the better. So if you or a loved one is going through a trial right now or has a particular need, rather than be as a last resort, come to God about it first ! If you are working or living with a particularly difficult person, rather than just get angry and upset (though there is a time and place for that too) and complaining about them, why don’t you pray for them? If you cannot pray blessings upon them, at least pray for God to change their (or your?) hearts. Pray without ceasing, for God through our prayers, can change lives and hearts for the better.