Clinical psychologist Dr. When Chloe Carmichael invited her followers to ask questions on social media, she saw that she was often asked questions about anxiety. One of the questions that came in was: “I have a friend who is struggling with anxiety and I really want to support him. But every time I try to say something useful, he says I don’t understand him. I also resent him for being late so often and canceling our plans at the last minute. I want to understand it, but I don’t know how.” Carmichael says it’s admirable to first want to support an anxious friend, and shares a few tips for us to think about before we act.
1- Make room for your friend
When someone you love says you don’t understand what they’re going through, accept it instead of insisting that you do, and encourage them to tell you more if they want to. Confirm and acknowledge that he feels misunderstood, and you will be able to communicate more and more deeply.
2- Know your helping limits
Helping someone means supporting the other person by being a good listener and making an effort to make them feel comfortable within reasonable limits. If you evaluate the needs of the person you are trying to help according to your own views and needs, you will cross your limits. What would be good for you if you were in that situation may not be what he prefers. If your friend is constantly running late or canceling plans at the last minute, this can of course make you angry at some point. Before things get too hot, express that you love spending time together and that you feel sad when plans change. Remind her that you can meet with her when she’s sure she’s ready. Depending on your affiliation with your friend, gently warning him of the seriousness of the situation is also a good way to support him. If anxiety attacks seriously affect the social life of the other person, you can remind them that they should seek help from a professional for their own well-being and say that you will not spare their support in this journey.
3- You don’t have all the answers
It’s great to listen and be there for someone struggling, but you don’t have to pretend you know everything. You may not always be able to come up with a great answer that will magically resolve the issue, but being there as someone who listens and is ready to act for her well-being is in itself a support.
4- Take care of yourself
If you often find yourself focused on the needs of your friends and inclined to sacrifice your own life for their needs, you need to turn your attention to yourself. It is always very important to maintain healthy boundaries when relating to people and especially when trying to help them.
Chloe Carmichael. “3 Tips For Helping (Not Enabling) A Friend With Anxiety, From A Clinical Psychologist”. Şuradan alındı: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/helping-a-friend-with-anxiety. (14.06.2021).