Two Game Changers to Help Hurting People
By: Sarah Jaggard I’m a big believer in collecting practical tools for helping myself and others make sense of this journey called life. Highs and lows, it’s all (and I mean all) a vital part of the Great Master’s work, and a good book, pragmatic talk, or workshop on the subject of healing is paramount for navigating it all. Luckily for us, we are swimming in a culture that is comfortable now more than ever with talking about pain, healing, recovery, and life’s battle scars.
From college textbooks in Psychology 101 to Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays, the Lego Movie to Frozen, and secular comedian Pete Holmes to Beth Moore, conversations about unraveling the journey of hurting people finding healing are spanning the globe in all varieties. We are all at the very center of this conversation.
That said, we want to share two game changing tools you can use to help someone who is hurting. Because guess what? If you have a pulse and are currently breathing, you qualify as being someone who can help another person.
No PhD required.
No license to perform therapy.
No ministerial school needed.
No test to take. You already have an A+.
No matter what our age or professions is, YOU can help people. Nothing other than your human experience is needed. Why? The expansiveness and universality of pain leaves no one untouched, which means you have something in common with every person you meet.
By practicing the two tools below, you will start to see your own profound ability to assist others from a human level (and it will not be because you said the perfect phrase).
It takes time to allow these to come naturally in the moment. Keep trying and give yourself lots of grace.
- Listen to them
It seems like a no brainer, right? In some ways, yes, and you’ve probably heard about the whole “listening verses hearing” commentary. Yes, there is a difference, and yes, I will be talking about the true listening part. I’d like to offer that listening – JUST listening – is one of the most profound ways you can help someone. Period.
There are so few spaces in this busy life where people can feel they can be truly heard. The buzz of commuting, iTunes, work email, cell phone pings, and Facebook notifications muddle much of our ability to truly listen. For as enlightened as we are as a culture, we also tend to be very distracted. How many of us have seen a family at dinner where every member of the family is on their cell phones?
Let’s give people a place to be heard and to be seen in our presence.
Listening is not passive, it’s active, and it actually requires a lot from us. Active listening takes effort and presentness, but it also takes a humble heart. Active listening encourages us to take in the information another person is sharing and not to make judgments about what the person means. One thing I like to say to myself when I walk into a counseling meeting is: “I know nothing. Now, what can I learn?”
To be effective in supporting someone, it’s not to say the perfect thing, it’s to simply hold space for someone to be who they are, messy and in process, just like you.
In my opinion, we can ever learn enough about the mystery of pain. Go in with a learner’s spirit (and no cell phone).
- Pray for them
This may seem like another no brainer, but I urge you to consider when the last time was that you went to God in prayer and interceded on someone’s behalf without an agenda or desired outcome, only asking for God’s will to be done?
I think many of our prayers go something like this:
“God, please make _______ happen so this person can move on.”
“God, please take away __________ so this person can get healthy.”
“God, work in this person’s situation.”
The thing is, God already is at work. What we are really asking for is the patience to see God’s work play out in a result that we want (even if the result is good).
I would like to offer that while those are good things to pray, they attach a desire to something God already has in the palm of his divine hands. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray those things, but I want to suggest that we go to God with eagerness in praying more for our ability to weather the waiting period.
“God, help me see what you’re doing in this person’s life. Please show your truth to me and to them. Help us be patient as we wait to see where you’re working. Your will, not mine, be done.”
Listening and prayer are two of the most God-like aspects we can bring to another person regardless of where they are on their journey. As we sit in this oh-so-rich environment for our own growth and knowledge, I encourage you to take a dip in the wide sea of materials out there. See what resonates for you as you find healing through your own story and as you bear witness to the healing of others.
Join us at Rescue Lab, a 2-day boot camp on how to help hurting people more effectively. Spots going quickly! Click for details.