How to help someone who doesn't ask for it.

We’ve all probably got that friend who struggles to accept help, no matter how much you can see they need it. In fact, we’ve all probably been that person at one point or another!

There’s lots of reasons why someone might not want to ask for help, and it will probably be different for everyone; maybe they feel like a burden, or that reaching out might be seen as a weakness or failure. 

Maybe they’re so overwhelmed with a new baby that doesn’t sleep well, or feed properly, or whatever, and trying to think of how you can actually help is just too hard.

Or if they’re anything like me, it might just be plain old pride that’s standing in the way.

Whatever the reason, if you can see a friend or family member is struggling and you really want to make their lives a little bit easier, here are some tips to help.

1. Be there. It might sound silly, but sometimes getting a text message from a friend to say they’re thinking of me, or an email checking in, can be enough to bring a smile to my face. Take a moment to reach out, and let them know you’re there for them, when the time comes – even if that time is 2am. It will make the world of difference. 

2. Don’t give up.  I don’t know how many times I’ve opened a text message, mentally responded but been distracted and then never actually responded. Or the million times when we’ve had plans, but some parenting disaster has come up and I can’t make it. The friends that I always turn to for help are the ones that never gave up on me. They know it’s not personal and their persistence to make sure I’m ok speaks volumes. 

3. No judgement. It might seem like you’re being super helpful in sharing your opinions and experiences, especially if you’ve been in the situation before, but try and wait to be asked. Sometimes just listening, or even providing silent company over a cup of tea or a glass of wine while your friend vents, is enough.
hands washing dishes
4. Be specific. Saying something like “let me know if there’s anything I can do” is actually pretty unhelpful, no matter how good your intentions. Instead, try and offer to do something specific. Can you pick up the older kids after school? Does the dog need a walk? Can you hang out that load of washing? Or fold it? Whatever you pick, if you make it really clear how you can help, it will be much easier to accept it. 

5. Just do it.
When it comes to practical help, sometimes people are so overwhelmed that thinking of what you can do, or actually asking for it, is simply beyond them. Instead, just get in there and do it. Fill their freezer, or drop off some fresh fruit and milk, or take the bins out. Small things can make the biggest difference, so don’t feel like they won’t be appreciated.
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