“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
I like to think my job as a friend includes being a candle (preferably vanilla scented).
Let me explain why, and listen up because this is REALLY important!
It can be a very difficult to watch someone you love get sucked in by their gremlins. Darkness becomes their new best friend and you feel like all you can do is take a front row seat.
But rather be in the front row than waiting for them outside.
Being sad sucks ass. When you feel sad you don’t have the courage to talk to anyone because you don’t understand how. You think your sadness will be a burden that someone else will have to carry.
You think it’s just a phase and it will blow over. And, you are probably right. It will blow over.
But you deserve more than that. You deserve happiness and health and magic in your life.
When you don’t talk to someone the sadness takes hold and it turns into something you don’t understand anymore.
It’s a dark veil that covers your mind and your heart. You can’t make sense of your feelings anymore. Your sadness takes over.
But that doesn’t change anything about your worth.
YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
So when you are looking at your friend and she has tears in her eyes you repeat the words “you are never alone”.
When you are concerned about a friend I know it can be difficult to start a conversation whilst finding the right things to say.
But the most important thing you can do is listen respectfully and mindfully.
Listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart.
Listening with all of your organs means that you are fully present.
Don’t prepare your response or think about what you’re going to say back. Just. Listen.
Do not put pressure on them. Ask open questions but let them do most the talking. Ask them how they feel and let them know that you will always be there.
Talking helps people makes sense of their world. If your best friend is an extrovert (likes to talk) then let them talk. Say things that make her feel loved and safe.
- You are not alone
- You are important to me
- I am always here for you
If your friend is a little more introverted and finds it harder to externalise her inner dialogue you can still be her candle. Remember the following:
- Do not interrupt
- Don’t be afraid of long, paused silences.
- Respect their introversion. Don’t force them into a conversation they are not ready for.
- Be patient.
- An introvert’s energy is limited so tread softly.
- Say all the things you would say to your extroverted friend and then sit back and wait.
Avoid, at all costs, saying something like this. Just don’t!
- It’s your fault
- Try not be so sad. Just try!
- So you are sad – you are always sad these days.
- Stop feeling sorry for your self.
- Life is not fair. No one ever said life was fair.
It’s your job as the friend with the candle to guide her back into the light. She will follow your voice.
But don’t forget that candles burn out as well.
As committed you are to helping your friend it is imperative that you look after yourself as well. As counter intuitive as this may sound supporting someone (no matter how much you love them) can be challenging and draining.
For every hour you spend with your friend take 10-20 minutes out for yourself and practice self-care.Self-care is not about self indulgence but rather self-preservation.
You still have a job, hobbies and other relationships. You can’t water a plant with a leaking watering can or drive a car with no petrol. Protect yourself!
No matter how much you love your friend and how much you want to be there for her when she is sad, your life shouldn’t stop because of it. You want to be there at the drop of a hat for her so you need to refuel, reenergise and rejuvenate as often possible.
Friends around the world remember that we are either the candle or the friend in need.
Check out the Samaritans link below for some more advice on how you can talk to someone you worried about.