I can see my future teenage granddaughter sitting on the edge of her bed. Her head is bowed, and she is feeling completely overwhelmed. The image breaks my heart and feels achingly familiar. We’ve all been there. I hope that whatever form I am in, I’m able to whisper in her ear, “Get support.”
My own tendency is to become a hermit when I’m feeling devastated and alone. I want to curl up in a ball and not talk with anyone – and that is not healthy. It’s something I’m working to change.
Support can be in the form of a therapist or coach. Professionals are a good choice. It can also be a wise friend or relative. However, to be truly helpful, the person must have several qualities.
First the person must have a positive outlook on life. A person who is hunting for and commenting on the negative is not useful. Neither is someone who blindly takes our side and jumps on the sniping bandwagon.
Second, the supporter must be able to listen without offering solutions. He or she can offer a new perspective, but the words “You need to…” should never come out of his or her mouth. We know the best solutions to our own problems. We just need someone to allow us to talk out loud and offer new ways of looking at something. Coaches are trained to listen, ask questions, and raise awareness. Great coaches never tell clients what they should do, and that’s the kind of support that we need when we are down and struggling.
Third, the person must be kind. We need a person with compassion for us, the situation, and anyone else involved. As we decide on actions and perspectives, we want a kind person to measure their merits.
Finally, the supporter must have our best interests at heart, which means it’s a person who cares for us. Family members sometimes have their own agendas and have difficulty separating our needs from theirs. Once again, a coach is an excellent choice because coaches champion for their clients’ needs and interests objectively.
If I can’t be there in the future when my granddaughter is feeling down, I desperately want her to reach out for help from someone who has all of those qualities. I hope we all do. I also hope that we can all develop the qualities needed to be great supporters.
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