There are times that I want to help someone, but I feel like I’ve exhausted all the emotional resources I have and I don’t know what to do for them. This makes me feel bad because I don’t want to see anyone hurt or suffering. If there’s any way that I can help someone I love who is in pain, I’ll do that. I often ask people when they’re going through a hard time what they need. How can I support or help them? Sometimes people don’t know and other times they have a specific idea about what they need. It’s helpful for me when the person tells me what they need so that I can help them effectively. I don’t want to do something that will hurt them more than they’re already hurting.
But the specific situation I’m talking about now is: what do you do when you have no idea how to help someone? What if you’ve used up all your brain power trying to come up with creative ways to be there for your friend and you don’t have any more light bulbs going off. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you’re out of potential solutions. When I get to this place personally, I start to feel down and bad about myself, which is ridiculous because I didn’t cause the problem the person is having. I just don’t have a way to make the issue go away. I have empathy for their pain and I don’t want to see them suffering anymore but I don’t know what to do about it and how to stop their suffering.
What I’ve realized is that, as much as I care about people, it isn’t my responsibility to alleviate their pain entirely. I can give the best of my ability, offer them love and unconditional support, and if that helps them, then that’s wonderful. But if their pain remains after I’ve done everything I can do as a friend and loved one, it’s not my fault. I didn’t fail or do anything “wrong.” I don’t need to be the hero, swoop in and save the day for every situation where I love someone. I can give love to the best of my ability and the majority of the work to get well isn’t up to me anyway. The person who is experiencing the life challenge is responsible for doing the work to get through it, process their feelings and heal.
We can be there for people when they are suffering, lend an ear, be a good friend but we cannot fix people’s problems, nor is it our responsibility to do that. There’s a difference between being a supportive friend and swooping in wearing an imaginary cape or carrying a magic wand to make someone’s problems disappear. As much as we’d like to envision ourselves as superheroes or fairy godmothers, we are humans. Humans, for the most part, have good intentions but we don’t have the power to end pain and suffering entirely. When a friend is going through a rough time, you can be there to support them, but it’s not all on you to mend it for them. Be a good friend, be there for them however you can, and understand that pain is a real part of life that we sometimes cannot control. What we can control is who we choose to be and what we do for those we love.