Know someone who is going through a tough time? Is that someone you? The simplest action or even token can make the world of a difference to a person. Do you know how to handle your loved one’s pain? What type of first aid do you offer the people in your life?

Want to help someone calm down? Whatever you do, please don’t say: “Calm Down.” Instead, make eye contact. Listen; don’t just hear what he is saying. Touch him if it’s called for, or just be physically present. Affection can actually lower someone’s cortisol levels. At times, just watching a movie with her or keeping her company can be more powerful than a conversation. Speaking of which, are you the type of person who eats all the popcorn while still going through the trailers? Aha.

Never dismiss someone’s pain. It’s tantamount to dismissing them. So you think she’s overreacting? You’ve haven’t seen a woman overreact until you tell her she’s overreacting. We don’t get to decide how much pain someone is allowed to feel. Validate her, and then help her realize that she can handle more than she thinks.

Figure out a way to make him feel less alone. Sometimes going out for that cup of coffee and sipping it in a neutral, relaxed environment can make it easier to open up and share. If you’re Hungarian or Italian, then you know that nothing says “I care” as much as bringing over some delicious delicacies or homemade goodies. You’ll always have “a pizza my heart.” Awww. “Penne for your thoughts?”

When you’re down in the dumps, the smallest errand can seem like a grandiose effort. You made a huge “To Do” list today, but you can’t figure out who’s going to do it. I know the feeling. This is mine: Make Lists. Look at the lists. Panic. Heh. So help her cross things off of her list by taking charge of some of those chores. Empathize or even reflect back to him what he may be feeling. It’s actually okay to offer advice if asked for, but remember: Everyone has to live with the decisions they ultimately make. You don’t. If you have too much invested and feel you can’t be fair or impartial, you may have to recuse yourself and simply lend that shoulder.

We all know someone who seems to have received a PhD from Know-It-All University. And how come know-it-alls don’t know how annoying they are? Lol. Remember, we are not experts on other people’s lives. Please be humble and use expressions such as: “It seems to me…” or “It sounds like…” “There may be another way to look at this…” Perhaps share something you went through and how you coped. But please do not steal the spotlight by having a “worse” scenario. It’s not a competition, after all.

Please let your loved one or friend know that he has a right to feel sad or angry if it is warranted. Of course, if he gets too angry, remind him that “prison orange” is not his color. Heh. As always, you may use the magic four words: “How can I help?” There is no one-size-fits-all. What works with one friend may not feel good at all to another.

Little gestures of outreach can be huge to someone suffering. Sit next to your friend. Be the first to text just to let him know you were thinking of him today. When someone’s hurting, trust me: they do not care about hearing the “right” thing from you. What they really crave is being heard. Feeling the weight of their worry, and just trying to understand, even in situations when you truly can’t, lets them know how deeply you care and how much you cherish them.

Be invested in who your loved one is, and especially who he wants to become. Oftentimes, we need to be showered with soothing, consoling, and comforting words. Sometimes you can figure out what your friend needs even if she is not aware that she needs it. No, you can’t fix it. You are not rescuing her, just letting her know that whatever it is that she is going through at the moment, she is not alone. Because your energy is with her.

Always try to leave someone better than when you found them. Let’s be honest. Some days we all need someone to love us just a bit louder. Don’t worry, sweet friends: Your fingerprints won’t fade, no matter how many lives you touch.

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


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