Written by Dr. Eric Perry
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ~Dalai Lama
1. Fight the urge to run away or shut down
Let’s face it, it is in our nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Seeing a loved one suffer is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences. If you feel like running away or giving up, you are not alone. But remember, it is not uncommon for a loved one who is suffering to prefer solitude. If this is the case, make sure not to feel guilty for going about your regular routines. And especially, make sure to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Just be mindful if you begin telling your partner how great things are going.
2. Manage your reactivity
It is not uncommon to feel angry, frustrated or sad toward whatever circumstance has led to your partner’s suffering. Be careful not to become irritable or avoidant because you are feeling these heavy emotions. If we are not careful, we can easily become a negative presence for our partner to be around. Feeling helpless while watching a loved one suffer can wreak havoc on you emotionally. Make sure to manage your reactivity, even if your partner is triggering you. Keep in mind, if he or she is suffering, they are not of sound mind (unless maybe they’re a Monk). Invite compassion to yourself and remember, we cannot solve every problem, nor can we always understand why bad things happen.
3. Allow them to vent
We don’t need to have answers. We just need to be present. We don’t need to solve anything. We just need to listen. Sometimes, all he or she wants to hear is, “you’re right, this really is unfortunate.”
4. Make it less about you
Something spectacular might have just happened in your life and of course, the first person you want to tell is your significant other. Sometimes, we need to pause and ask ourselves, “is there be a better time to present this new development?”
5. It’s ok that it’s not ok
Learning to make peace with discomfort is a lifelong practice. There is no magic pill for you to take. It boils down to your perspective and accepting that, it is not the circumstance that defines you, but how you define your circumstance.
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
“My mission is to provide you with solutions and insights to help you achieve your goals in a way that fits your lifestyle and your timeline.” ~Dr. Perry
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