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How to Console
Good morning and welcome to your seventy-fourth meditation. How do you console a friend? Do you say everything’s going to be alright or that everything happens for a reason? Or do you say you can’t imagine what it must feel like, or that what they’re going through must be really hard. Maybe you relate their experience to something that you yourself have experienced. Or maybe you insist that what they have lost wasn’t worth having in the first place. Perhaps each one of these approaches has its place depending on the context and the individual you are attempting to console. However, in a general sense, some approaches are better than others. But how do we determine which approach is the right one? And how can we know what to avoid if we want to be a good friend? The answer must begin not with some abstract dictum, but with your very real, flesh-and-blood, living, breathing friend. Who are they? What are they going through right now? And what might they need from you? You may ask yourself “what would I want in this situation?”, and this could be helpful, absolutely. It puts you in your friend’s shoes, starting you on a path to empathy. But as thoughtful as that question is, it is only a first step. Remember, this is about your friend, not you. That means you will want to consider what they want, and how that may differ from what you think would be best for yourself. And, very probably, what they want and need in this moment is not to be lectured or taught something. It is a natural impulse. We want to help our friends who are in pain, and sometimes, from the outside it seems obvious that if they simply changed this or that then they would feel better and maybe even avoid similar grief in the future. But, unless they have specifically asked for your advice, to offer it will likely seem smug and unsympathetic. The same is true of pity. Although we often think of pity as somehow charitable in that it expresses concern for others, what it really does is separates the consoler and consolee into two distinct classes of people. The first is the class of the strong, unscathed, and unafflicted that look on from a place of relative comfort at those who suffer, who are hobbled, and weakened. This kind of dynamic may succeed in making the pitier feel better than before, but most likely will have the reverse effect on the pitied. Often, the answer to how to be a good consoler is that you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to say anything. You just have to be there. You have to listen. You have to allow your friend to feel what they feel and allow them to feel supported in doing so… a hug and saying I love you can sometimes help too. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.
About 4 Minute Meditations
Host Joseph Organ primes you for your day with quick, snack sized life affirming positivity infused podcasts. New episodes every Monday morning! Presented by ShopOtiem.com Access more episodes, subscribe, and learn more.