It sucks to see someone in pain. Especially someone you love dearly. And if it’s your child, forget about it. That’s like getting punched in the gut while someone simultaneously tears your heart out of your chest to see how long you can live without it.
It hurts so much. And if you are anything like me, you might do something pretty selfish in that moment.
I want to stop the pain. I want the other person to stop hurting. I want ME to stop hurting. I just want to get us out of there.
So I start throwing out solutions. I’m tossing them rapid-fire like buoys to a drowning person. Every time they miss one, I toss another. The whole time, I am screaming inside, “Why won’t they grab one?!!”
Because they can’t.
They’re not ready.
They need to go through the process of releasing that painful energy before they’ll be ready to hear solutions that will help them move forward. What they need is someone to just be there with them.
Instead they get this message.
“This place is scary! We are NOT going to be okay if we stay here. You are drowning and we need to go NOW!”
Or maybe this one…
“You’re obviously choosing this pain, because you just can’t think of a good solution on your own. Why on earth would you do that? Here, try one of these solutions. And quick!”
Have you ever had a good cry? Or watched someone have a good cry? It goes on and on until it just kind of magically stops. And then you take a couple of deep breaths and think, “Now what?” It is at THAT moment that you are ready for solutions. You can actually watch people make this transition. The catch is that they have to do it on their own timing.
Until they are ready, they need to get this message.
“I’m here. I’m not scared. We’re going to be okay. Everything you’re feeling is perfectly normal. I’ll be here as long as you need me.”
That’s the selfLESS thing to do.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I have spent most of my life strengthening my problem-solving muscles to avoid feeling pain (both mine and other people’s). There is still part of me that wants to throw the person over my back and go running out of the burning house. And sometimes I give into my impulse to try and “fix it”. But it never works. It’s like a dream where I go running out and then realize that somehow they’re not on my back anymore but still in that damn burning house.
Because what they need is for me to just be there with them. Just be. And when they’re ready to brainstorm solutions, I’ll be there for that too.