Going through major life changes is never easy. Whether it involves moving to a new state or dealing with the loss of a partner, changes can be hard to handle alone. Even if it’s something you look forward to, it can be exciting and scary at the same time. So, if you have a friend or family member who is embarking on a new journey, learn how you can offer support.
Create a Safe Space for Them
The first step in supporting your loved ones is making sure they feel that they can express themselves authentically with you. Let them know that you value your relationship with them even when they are going through major life changes. Assure them that you respect them and that they can trust you by being mindful of your tone and word choice. By creating a safe environment, they’ll be comfortable communicating with you—which is vital to successfully support them.
When they feel secure with their relationship with you, they won’t hesitate to come to you for help, even if it means they just need someone to talk things out with. Sometimes, they might not need assistance to solve a problem but want to have someone discuss their ideas so they can gain clarity. Remember, providing support is not the same as giving advice. At times, you just need to listen without giving your opinion right away. Your loved one may need to process their thoughts by talking them out with you. This can be the case if they are grieving the loss of their partner. The best support you can offer is to listen to them and be there for them emotionally.
Work with Them to Formulate an Action Plan
If your loved one comes to you with a plan that will have a major effect on their life, you can help them make sure they will succeed. You can help them layout the groundwork by defining what they want to achieve and the changes they want to make. Then, work together to establish short-term goals that will ultimately lead to the long-term goal.
For example, they might seek your help on their decision to quit their job and start a business. They already have the bigger goal of being an entrepreneur in mind, but they might need support on how to get there. You can help them set weekly milestones to achieve such as assessing the resources they need, allocating time and money, and creating a business plan. While formulating the best plan of action, help them anticipate the challenges they may encounter so they can prepare better.
Give Them Encouragement
Your loved one will likely encounter obstacles along the way, and your support during such times will be critical. They may need someone to remind them why they chose to make changes in their lives. This may be enough to help motivate them. If someone you know is recovering from substance abuse and they share with you their challenges, sharing words of encouragement for sobriety
may inspire them to keep working hard. Also, there might be instances when you need to support your loved ones to get back on their feet when they stumble. Let them know that it’s alright to make mistakes and that they can start over again. But, keep in mind that you are not responsible for their ultimate success or failure.
Offer Supportive Feedback
Positive and negative feedback are both vital to supporting progress. Positive feedback can be given in the form of a compliment. It can help establish positive behavior for your loved ones to attain their goal. For instance, letting them know you are impressed with how committed they are to their daily exercise routine can be your way of supporting the good habit.
When it comes to negative feedback, you need to remember it is more than criticism. Focus on constructive statements and suggestions that will help them improve. It can mean sharing an online course your colleague can take to help them improve their performance and achieve their desired promotion. Make sure to do this with kindness and their best interests at heart.
Be Open to Changes
It’s easy to get frustrated about the effort you put into supporting them but they decide to change their decision. In such instances, don’t take it personally and try to be understanding of what they are going through. Sometimes, your loved one may lash out at you due to stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil. You can leave the room to avoid getting stressed and use the time apart to assess if you need to shift to a different kind of support. When they become angry, they might just need to express their emotions so wait until they calm down before discussing anything.
Take Care of Yourself Too
When supporting your friend or family, remember to take care of your needs as well. You can only help them if you are fit to do so. Get enough rest or decompress by watching your favorite show. Do the things you need so you can be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you are not at your best, you won’t be able to support your loved one effectively.
It takes a lot of adapting and adjusting to go through major life changes and that can be difficult to do alone. If your friend or a relative is embarking on a new phase of their lives, offer your support because it might be just what they need to soldier on with an exciting or scary change in their lives.