One of the challenges that I have in my life is knowing when to give people space to process their own feelings. I want to be involved in helping my friends and loved ones. My inclination is to provide them with helpful solutions so that they can better more through their pain. I am a person who has a lot of feelings. And as a human being that is totally normal but what I struggle with is knowing the appropriate circumstances when I can express my feelings. Sometimes people are not ready to hear your feelings for a multitude of reasons.
That’s OK, because their reluctance to hear my feelings doesn’t have to do with me. The fact that I have a lot of feelings and that the other person can’t hear those feelings at the moment are two mutually exclusive concepts.
Let’s flip sides for a moment
There are moments when your friend is dealing with a difficult situation and all you would like to do is help them through this experience. Sometimes this can be a wonderful thing to do when you allow your friend to talk about her feelings. There is aBetter help article when you need to talk that articulates this concept. As an empathetic person, I can attest to the fact that I have been in this experience or dynamic with multiple friends. All I wanted to do was help my friend and assist them to the point where they were not healing pain anymore. The reality is that pain is a part of life and in order to grow as human beings, it is necessary to learn how to process pain effectively. This begins with giving your friend space. You might be wondering, why would I give my friend space if they are in pain? Isn’t that the time to be a supportive friend or loved one for this person?
The short answer is: not always.
People often need the space to process their emotions (particularly pain) in order to grow and move forward in life. It can be excruciating to watch your friend in pain. The best thing to do is to let that person know that you are there for them. You also need to understand that there may be times that they need to be by themselves.
It is a delicate balance as to how to let your friend handle their life dilemmas. When you’re not sure what to do it it’s totally OK to ask for feedback. If you don’t ask people for what they need you will presume something and possibly make a decision that doesn’t help that person in the moment. Giving people space means a couple of things. It means listening to what they need, stepping back when it feels like they want to work on things by themselves, and periodically checking in to ask if there’s anything that you can do for them.
Different friendships have different dynamics and it is good to be aware of the way that you communicate with this particular friend.
Remember to always do your best in a given situation. There is no wrong or right, it is about you knowing yourself and doing the best that you can for you and your friend.