6 Tips to Recognize and Help When Someone Needs Support

Friends Hugging

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another-and ourselves.” ~Jack Kornfield

After planning the next three months of my life in my head, trying to focus on my breath and recounting the plans for tomorrow, I decided my battle with insomnia was going to win. I got up, careful not to wake my husband, and decided to start reading.

Nestling into the lines of my latest library book well after midnight, my phone began to beep.

Even in the most quiet of the night, are we ever really alone?

I thought to myself, who else could be awake at this hour? It was my twin sister all the way across the country, struggling with insomnia herself. Ready to share my latest updates with her, something in me encouraged me to ask how she was doing and why she was still awake.

It was in the stillness of the evening that I slowed down to think of someone other than myself. 

I wondered, if the sun was brightly shining and I was carrying on with my own busyness, would I have answered her text message? If I were rushing through the day, would I have noticed her hint of sadness?

She recounted the daily stressors and recent disagreement with a friend. In her written words, I sensed an echo of loneliness, a tinge of yearning for connection.

So often in the busyness of our own self-absorbed lives we fail to notice when others are in need of connection. If we are in need, can’t we recognize that others are too?

So many of us feel alone in our day-to-day trials, but as I remember learning as a young girl, when we focus our love on others, it betters our own hearts too.   

How to take a few minutes out of your busy day for others:

1. Do not hesitate to make the call.

My sister-in-law started a movement within our family. Nonchalantly one night, she mentioned on my voicemail, “I decided if I’m thinking of someone to call right in that moment—and so I’m calling you,” she said.

It does not take too much time just to say hi. Even if you cannot talk long, the gesture of your voice might be the song someone needs to hear.

2. Write it out the old fashioned way. 

I’m a lover of stationary and stickers—the Internet’s nemeses. Nowadays, our mailboxes overflow with countless bills, excessive ads, and unwanted insurance offers.

Be daring and surprise someone with a note, even if it’s just a few short sentences. You’ll only spend a few cents on postage, but your thought and care will be that bright treasure amongst the gloomy pile of trash.

3. Imagine if it were you. 

When we hear about others’ problems, often times our objectivity offers a healthy perspective. Other times, however, it distances us from the emotional heartache and pain of those in need.

When you hear the weakened voice of a loved one or look into fading eyes, try to open yourself wider and truly see the situation from their perspective. Genuinely saying, “I hear you” creates understanding and connection.

4. Listen.

I’m a talker and a fixer. When I hear someone’s problems, halfway through the story I want to rattle off my suggestions. But sometimes, we just need to vent. We need the ear of another to soak up the words of our wounds.

I am learning this more and more each time I need to cry out and am not heard. We all have so much to say so often, so many times silence and a gentle nod of acceptance is what we really need.

5. Think of your mother.

What did we need when we were younger? Our mothers. No matter how diverse or painful our relationships were with our mothers or if they are no longer with us, we can all become that wise-feminine soul to stabilize the masculine vigor of our modern world.

While action, goal setting, and swiftness are much needed, so are vulnerability, softness, and nurturing elements.

6. Become a comedian.

We hear about the positive biological impact of laughter. Be an advocate yourself. If you have offered time and encouragement, lighten the setting with a little laughter. Be sure to gauge your joke as not to offend but rather soothe.

As my sister and I completed our novel length texts back and forth, she appreciated the words we shared and I saw our conversation as a compliment of her trust in me.

We may not all have those two o’clock in the morning bonding opportunities with our siblings as the rest of the world dreams, but we all have twenty-four hours to seek out a wounded soul in need of our light.

Photo by Connie Ma

About Jessica Latham

Jessica Latham is a freelance writer, translator and poet who enjoys writing about health and happiness.  Her writing has been featured on NPR radio and published in various journals.  She also writes a blog Rowdy Prisoners which features stories and interviews about people daring to live with passion and love.

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  • Oscar

    Nice, though the title seems very off. Tips appear to be HOW to help, not how to tell IF someone needs help.

  • Hi Oscar~ That was my doing actually–I changed the title. (Sorry Jessica!) The post is meant to be about paying attention to subtle signs that we sometimes miss when we’re caught up in our busy lives. I’m glad you enjoyed the post as much as I did!

  • growthguided

    Hi Jessica,

    I think you really nailed it on the head. “So often in the busyness of our own self-absorbed lives we fail to notice when others are in need of connection.” It is really difficult to pull ourselves out of that tunnel vision in life we can face. This constant planning really pulls me from being in the moment and all the wonderful interactions that take place all around me.

  • jessica latham

    Thanks, Oscar and Lori, for your comments. Titles can be tricky and often make the difference in pulling in a reader.

    Oscar, I appreciate the feedback and am happy you still read the piece.

    Lori, as always, it was great working with you.

  • jessica latham

    Yes, we are so focused on ourselves at times. I often feel so much better when I help someone else instead of wallow in my own self-absorption. It’s often the awareness that’s the key. Thanks for your great comments and for reading the piece!

  • growthguided

    You are very welcome. Have a great week !

  • jessica latham

    You too!