When someone approaches us, we often feel the need to help. We do not want to see others in pain, especially those closest to us, so we move in to help. Leading with helping is understandable since we are taught to help and problem-solve from an early age. However, it can often be heard as criticism. When we share help, the other may think, “Of course I tried that, do you think I’m stupid or something?” or “I’m such an idiot, I should have tried that.” Helping is valuable. We do not want to stop, but we want to check what kind of help the person needs and what they have already explored.
Often, people want to be heard. Hearing includes listening to what the person is saying, connecting with their thoughts and emotions, and expressing empathy. We show we are listening by our body language and what we say. Truly listening takes practice; only after we have heard and listened should we consider moving to help.
Finally, sometimes we need a hug. A hug can show how much we care, creating a deep human connection. Hugging can show I’m here for you, I feel your emotions. Hugging can also be nonphysical by creating space for the person when they need to be alone.
Each of these can be used to show how much we care.