How do you help someone who is suffering from low self-esteem, anxiety or early signs of depression?
How do you connect with them to help pull them out of that hole they are stuck in?
How do you put yourself in their shoes to feel the pain they are going through?
These are questions I am sure many of you have. Whatever you do doesn’t seem to be enough, help enough and you just seem to be making things worse because you see something that needs to be fixed and they aren’t willing to fix it within themselves.
You live through these thoughts, these moments, wondering if anything you do would help the situation or make a difference with them. All you want to do is make them happier, help them smile and laugh, and show them how wonderful they are. Instead, you get attitude, anger, tears, hurtful words, loneliness, fighting, and push back.
Living with someone who has anxiety & depression is a heart wrenching experience. Watching someone you love live through sadness and self-hate is hard to stand by and witness. You feel helpless when they explode with disturbing thoughts, harmful words, and careless behaviors.
You desperately want to help them see how amazing they are, how beautiful they are, how incredible they although they have never seen those qualities in themselves.
Your heart breaks as you see the sadness lurk in their eyes.
It’s hard to watch someone with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and sadness. It’s hard to love them because they want to push you away. They make it nearly impossible and challenging to love them. Our natural reaction is to fix it, argue with them, fight with them, battle to get them to snap out of their mindset so they can be happy with themselves, happy with life.
You want them to see what you see, feel what you feel, love themselves like you love them.
You want to love them enough for both of you.
Unfortunately, they have to love themselves before they will let us love them.
What I learned about helping someone who suffers from low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression is that “fixing” is NOT how you go about it. I learned that finding solutions for them isn’t the answer either.
What I learned was that compassion, understanding, honesty, trust, and love was what mattered.
Helping someone doesn’t mean “fixing” their problem because it’s how you would do it. Helping someone means listening to them, empathizing with them, understanding where they are coming from because it was their experiences that got them there. Learning to love them unconditionally and understanding how they got to that place in life helps you get clearer on what they are going through.
Here are some actions you can take to help someone that struggles with low self-esteem, anxiety, or early signs of depression.
First, listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. Listening is such a critical skill when it comes to wanting to help someone. Not solving their problems but listening. So many times, we are distracted by our cell phones, the TV, work, or our own thoughts and we don’t give our full attention to the person who is speaking. Being able to shut down the outside noise and fully tune into the speaker has such a lasting impact on that individual and shows you care, you value them, what they say is important, and allows you to understand their situation better. By asking clarifying questions while listening, you can gain a full perspective of what they are speaking about.
Listening comes from a place of non-judgement.
Many times, the individual will talk themselves through their problems because just saying it out loud can have a huge impact on them and saying it out loud props it in front of them so it’s easier to see. By actively listening, you are able to receive information, process it, and are able to engage when necessary, in the conversation.
Active listening or deep listening can also help you avoid creating frustration. Nothing is more frustrating when someone is not paying attention and they catch half of the story. It’s frustrating because you have to repeat yourself, answer questions that don’t make sense to what you were saying, and makes you not want to share anymore.
By listening, you provide the greatest gift to someone that is scared to share their inner thoughts and who already have poor esteem.
A second way to help someone with anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem is by showing compassion and empathy. These were difficult for me to learn. A dear friend always said, “Dang Duemmel, where’s your compassion?” I had my moments in life but I really never struggled much from depression or anxiety much. My self-esteem had moments growing up but it never seemed to affect my dreams, my goals, and the life I wanted for myself. Unfortunately, I had a hard time putting myself in someone’s shoes who didn’t have dreams, who didn’t have goals, and who never saw a good life for themselves because of their mindset of themselves. It was a rude awakening for me. Something I needed to learn. Something that would help me connect with people more.
Through personal awareness, seeing depression firsthand, and learning more about my levels of compassion for others, I was able to grow and learn what compassion was and what it meant.
Compassion is being able to show someone that you understand, and you share in their emotions and hurt. It is being able to put yourself in their shoes, their mindset, their pain. It is being supportive without judgment. It is sharing their experience and helping them feel like they are no longer alone, and you are there to support them in any way you can. Showing compassion can help someone when they are in need and provide the type of support needed during that time.
Through compassion, you are telling the person that you understand, you can relate to what they are feeling, and you are committing to supporting them, loving them, and building trust with them.
The third key to helping someone is to build trust with them. Someone who suffers from poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, doesn’t trust themselves. They don’t believe in themselves. Their favorite words are “I can’t”. They don’t believe in their abilities, their dreams, their thoughts, their courage, nor their impact to the world around them. By building trust, it helps them feel safe. It helps them feel like you aren’t going anywhere. It helps them believe that you have their best interest at heart and that you will do everything in your power to minimize any hurt or pain that surrounds them. By earning their trust, you can slowly show them a different perspective on life that will guide them out of the turmoil within them to a happier, healthier, belief system.
Watching someone live with depression taught me that life isn’t just about me. It taught me that it isn’t how I feel about what others are going through. It isn’t about me solving the problems for them. It taught me that we all have our own perfect solutions, and it is up to the individual to find those solutions.
My role in all this was to be supportive, listen, show compassion, and show up for them day after day. I had to show the individual that I wasn’t going anywhere, and I was there to support them every single day until we worked through the negative to see the positive.