Last update: October 14, 2015
When a person is having a hard time, the last thing they want to hear is that they have to ignore it, that it doesn't matter, or that there are far worse things. What he needs is understanding, not for his suffering to be minimized.
Less words and more deeds
In life, most of us face a major loss, painful news, a difficult illness to manage, or a rather uncomfortable situation. What we expect from others are not phrases of circumstance, but attitudes that allow us to understand that we have their understanding and support..
It is wrong to belittle the situation, thinking of taking a burden off those who are suffering. This attitude has a much more aggressive component because it tries to eliminate or diminish the other person's completely legitimate feelings. The worst thing is that those who behave like this generally aim to get rid of the pain of the other in order to preserve their own tranquility..
In most cases, a person in pain just wants to be heard, without judgment and with the utmost attention. The act of listening is the best way to console those who suffer. Knowing that someone is willing to accept this suffering without questioning it eases the pain.
Other people just don't want to talk about what's happening to them and just hope others respect their silence. In these cases, avoiding talking about the subject that causes pain is a way of showing understanding and offering support. It will certainly not be interpreted as an indolent gesture, on the contrary, quite the opposite.
There are no formulas made to console a person who suffers. Everyone has their own particular way of dealing with pain and does not manifest suffering in the same way in the face of all life circumstances.
The only condition to truly console a person is to show oneself genuinely willing to do so.
To console is fundamentally to offer companionship, affection, respect and support. The important thing is to demonstrate, through gestures and attitudes, that you are there for that person who is suffering. That his pain does not scare us and that we are willing to accept it. That our decision doesn't change as long as the storm continues.
It is never wrong to ask explicitly if we can help in any way. Sometimes there are needs that are not so obvious or perhaps we do not give due importance to actions that could instead be decisive for those involved in a difficult situation.
Furthermore, it is not the same thing to console a child and to console an adult. As far as children are concerned, the act of consoling can also be quite simple, “a caress is enough, it is an action more on a body level”, as the psychotherapist Irmtraud Tarr argues; at that point the brains synchronize.
Finally, most importantly, we need to open our hearts to the feelings and needs of the person who is suffering. It is very comforting to know that someone is trying their best to understand us. Consoling is an art and, like any art form, requires sensitivity and commitment.