Sometimes, people you care about are stressed or upset or in pain, and that in turn makes you stressed or upset or in pain. You want to help. Reflexively, you might ask: “Is there anything I can do?”
Sometimes there is, but most of the time you don’t get a good answer to that question. Partially because there might not be anything you can do, but honestly that’s not really the problem. Often there’s a ton of stuff you could do, but you don’t know what it is.
Relying on the person who’s in pain to tell you what to do isn’t a great strategy. They’re in pain, they’re not ready to manage a project. They might feel guilty for asking for something specific, even if you’ve offered help in general. And they might just be too distraught to know what would even help.
In one of my past posts that I reference very often, I wrote about the important of doing literally anything when you’re stuck and don’t have a clear plan. In the context of that post, I was talking about helping yourself – but the advice applies well when helping others as well.
Small acts of kindness go a long way, and you can’t really do them incorrectly. They’re about expressing your sincere commitment to the other person’s well-being more than about fixing a specific problem. They’re about giving the other person a little momentum to get started.
Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly how to help. Just do anything, even a little thing. The little things go a long way.