Hello Everyone! Welcome to the second post of this week. I, Nick Smith, am the author of this week’s second article. My topic is more aimed at those who are trying to “help” those struggling with an inner battle. A lot of well intentioned people inadvertently make those they are trying to help feel more isolated. This article was written in order to avoid some of the common mistakes. Here's what I had to say:

You don’t know what to do, and thats okay. You might have a desire to help a person you know; a co-worker, Bible study member, or spouse, and it’s great that you have that drive to help this person. But without your intention, your words could lead them to feel more isolated or irregular than they already do. Here are some guidelines to avoid doing that.

“How are you doing?”

Pointing out that this phrase is over used is almost as deep of a faux pa as asking the question without meaning it, but for the sake of this article, it needs to be done. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I do this as well. But when dealing with someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression for instance, it can be confusing. “Do you want me to share how I’m feeling or are you just using that worn out phrase?,” can often be the thought going through their mind. Only ask if you fully intend on listening to how they are doing.

Advice Giving

Generally, if someone would like to know your input on their life, they will ask you. What we have to do, as someone wanting to help another who is struggling emotionally, is earn the right to speak into their lives. This usually requires a lot of time listening and a lot of time doing other activities besides “fixing the problem.” A strong relationship is required in order for this to even be considered.

What are boot straps anyway?

Ever heard this? “They just need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get on with it…” It’s a form of hyperbole known as an adynaton which is trying to convey the fact that it’s a shear impossibility (“When pigs fly,” is another example). No one has ever picked themselves up by their boot straps, ever. It makes no sense, and thats the point. The funny thing is, we use it incorrectly all the time in our culture, and I find it’s incorrect usage ironic. When we are struggling internally, will power has nothing to do with it. Most have tried will power already, and it didn’t work. So telling someone to power through it sounds very American and all, but it doesn’t work that way when it comes to an issue in our mind.

Prayer Meetings

If you aren’t the one struggling with the anxiety or depression or fill in the blank, then it’s not up to you to request specific prayer for it. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13 (NIV). The desire to share someone else’s hurt comes from a good place, I truly believe that. We want to get as many people praying for someone as we can. But we must not do this without their permission otherwise it looks a little like gossip and it definitely betrays confidence. You only need to tell another person’s secret if they voice that they are planning on harming themselves or another.

What you can do!

Be available, be open, be honest, be loving, be patient. In short, be a friend, a really good one, then through that relationship, healing can occur.

I myself fall prey to these categories from time to time. Apologize, and move on, this seems to be a good tactic.

The world needs more people like you who are willing to help! Thank you!

By: Nicholas Smith, MA, LPC