Have you ever been in a situation where people are treating you with gloved hands and pursed lips because you are precariously balanced between nearly fine and utterly wrecked?
They are giving you looks that implore you to help them to get taking care of you right, because they want to so badly. Just looking at you hurts them, and you feel it as weight. More weight than you can bear because your hands are full of your catastrophe.
They mean well, and that is an additional burden. Making your mind numbing problem a little lighter to carry would really make their day, and you’d like to oblige. But you’re in crisis and crisis is all you’ve got cells for right now.
Remember the bathroom scene from Jerry Maguire? It’s a lot like that.
“Help me help you. Help ME – help YOU!”
We are both in a bind. I need relief. You want to give some. But both of us have no answers and, I’m sorry, but I am greatly disadvantaged at the moment.
I just can’t help you. You’re on your own. But wait ….
Now flip the script. Pretend it’s you in your crisis, and me with the begging. Can you think back on a time when this happened to you this year? Hypothetically, let’s say it was a work situation, a new boss you couldn’t get through to, and you felt like you were positioned to lose no matter what you did to untangle it. You were the one frustrated to the point of hot tears, and nothing was going to stop the train wreck.
You remember that day. So, you know how it went.
Maybe it didn’t go your way, but you did get through it and some small solution did have a positive effect on you, you were released from that trap.
Tell me now so I remember for next time.
We can all do this with our friends. It’s miraculous when we are able.
“What do you want me to say?” should never be served up through clenched teeth. Your friend is hanging by a thread and guess what? It’s not about you. Get over yourself and try again, calmly.
My husband and I learned this beautiful tool when I had panic attacks. It was so hard on him when I was unhinged, so I had to practice looking back, when the panic was over, at what he had done that had gotten me through. Once I knew that my panic had a cycle, and I taught it to David, we noticed there were places in the pattern where saying certain things gave me something I couldn’t give myself.
“What do you want me to say?” spoken softly will unlock the tools that you need for your friend – the next time she is hitting a wall. It confesses your helplessness, which also does wonders.
Friends learn each other. It takes a brave soul.
Don’t worry, you’ve got one.
Did you miss a question or two in the series? Just head over to the main topic page for #CultivateCourageous.