We all crave emotional support at times. When was the last time you benefited from receiving advice? Did you actually feel better after her encouragement? Did his guidance make you feel more competent?

If we’re being honest, we all wish to be valued. What was the very last thing he did that made you feel appreciated? Making others feel valued is literally one of the most meaningful things you can do.

Ever notice how some of our friends just seem to bring out the best in us? Then again, there’s always the one chiming in with her two cents, unsolicited as it may be. You can keep your two cents. I’m not tryin’ to leave you broke. Sure, you can put your two cents in. But don’t be surprised if you get change back. Uh-oh.

If you do offer some pointers, toss in some positive observations, as well. Is your “guidance” simply criticism camouflaged? If you truly feel the need to advise her, please ask permission. “Do you mind if I make some suggestions?” “Would you like a different opinion about that, perhaps?” Then again, be humble enough to allow him to occasionally direct you. You cannot be a crackerjack at everything.

Do not allow your ego to get in the way of your growth, sweet friends. Listen to others, and always speak your mind with kindness. Remind him of his past success when he is faced with a challenge. Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it kind?

If you’re anything like me, you may occasionally ask her what she thinks you should do. Oh, no. She didn’t exactly say what I wanted to hear. Now what do I do? Well, before giving a piece of your mind, be sure you have enough to spare. But seriously, can you recall some particular insight that truly helped you?

Ah, platitudes. “Take the bull by the horns.” Huh? What do you suppose would actually happen if you tried to do that? Not a very pretty sight, I wager. “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” Um, isn’t that the whole point of cake? Y’all know how to eat cake, right? Cut a slice. Leave it. Eat the rest of the cake. After all, life is better with sprinkles on top. If we are what we eat, then I’m awfully sweet.

But truly, you have no earthly idea what to say to him, so you generously offer one of those dreaded clichés or platitudes. Please don’t. Do not suggest gratitude in the middle of some horrifying or stressful event. During very difficult times, do not minimize the seriousness of her situation. The larger lesson may come in due time.

Even if things did not work out, remind him how proud you are of him for not compromising his values and morals. Sadly, we do not always get an instant reward for seeking higher ground. Walking uphill requires strength. You know what they say: There’s always less traffic on the high road.

When she reaches out to you, she truly does not expect you to have all the answers. Oftentimes, what we really want is just to have someone by our side. Tell him you are there to listen to everything he may need to say.

Please don’t tell her she “should” have done something differently. Perhaps you can help her figure out what may be right for her. “How about you try something like this next time?” Don’t lecture or preach at him. Preach with your life, not with your lips. Admit out loud to her that you don’t have all the answers but remind her that you are there and willing to help her figure it all out.

He may be trying to muster up the courage to change his job. It’s been said: A lot of folks nowadays have a BA, MD, or a PhD. Unfortunately, they don’t have a J.O.B. Perhaps she is considering ending a relationship or making a life change. You can always recommend a book, podcast, website, or insight that helped you in the past.

Okay, you just gave him the most amazing ideas and he didn’t even use them. Remember to regard your advice-giving as a gift. Let him know that he has every right to disregard your suggestions if he chooses to. Work with them, not “on” them.

What’s your opinion of the advice giver? For many of us, when our loved ones are struggling, it feels good to offer instruction or direction. As y’all know, my sense of direction is terrible. Not sure where I’m going with this. You know two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left. But I digress…

Sometimes we are not really looking for an answer or even a new way to cope. We simply want to be heard. We don’t want to be all overwhelmed with your info or expertise at times. What we do crave is to feel understood.

Whatever you say, sweet friends, bear in mind that words are potent and powerful. They can revive, resuscitate, and truly heal. Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.

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 facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.