How Do You Help Someone Who is Afraid or Angry?

How Do You Help Someone Who is Afraid or Angry?

What do you do when someone you know is upset, afraid and angry over something in their life? Do you join them in saying how awful the situation is? Or do you tell them they’re blowing it out of proportion and it’s not as bad as they think? Do you offer solutions to the problem? Do you “comfort” them and tell them it will be “all right?’ Or do you just advise them to get over it and move on? If you are distressed about a situation, how do any of these common responses feel to you?

People often ask me how to communicate better with their spouse, children and friends. I suggest they start by listening. Just hear what the other person is saying, without trying to change them in any way, just letting the person be and experience all the feelings the situation is bringing up for them. They don’t need your advice, nor even your comfort, as much as they need your support.

By support, I don’t mean agreeing with everything they say. I mean listening with an open heart and mind, acknowledging that it’s how they feel, at this moment. There’s no right or wrong, no judgment or blame; not for your friend, or for anyone else in the situation. In this way, you will allow your friend the freedom to be whoever they are in relation to the situation. It doesn’t mean you have to join them in their situation, or help solve the problem, just that you hear them.

Sometimes this isn’t so easy. Take Alice’s experience, for example. She called me after a raging fight with her husband. It seems their daughter was having problems at school with other kids making fun of her. My client had responded by hugging her daughter, rubbing her back and telling her to not to worry, it would be OK. Her husband, on the other hand, had said they were bullies, and she should be tough and not let them get to her. He even suggested that he go talk to the parents of the other kids. After this discussion had gone on for a while, the daughter had expressed that no one understood her or cared, and had left the room, angry at both parents. The parents then argued about who was right. Sound familiar?

Alice wanted to know what went wrong? How did they end up all angry at each other? Alice and her husband meant well, but do you see how they both took the situation away from their daughter? Alice’s comfort stifled her daughter and told her it wasn’t OK to be angry. The father’s jumping into something he could do, took away from the daughter too. She didn’t have a chance to work through the situation to her own solution.

In order to be able to support another person lovingly and effectively, you have to know and accept yourself. Only when you experience your own self-love and self-worth can you give to others without taking away from them, the way Alice and her husband did with their daughter.

Do you want to discover your own self-worth and change how you relate to others? My 3-Day “Mastering Your Life™” Intensive is a Spiritual Retreat designed to help you do just that!

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 Creative Commons License photo credit: ernest404



  • Sherpa of Happiness says:

    This approach has helped take the pressure off of me to feel like I have to have the answers or take responsibility when people share their problems or disappointments or emotions.  I can allow them to have their experience without making it mine or making it about me.  Wonderful freedom!

  • My friends often come to me asking for advice or venting about various situations. I’ve grown over the years to be a great listener and motivator for them in those tough times. One approach that I also find to be helpful is to ask if they just want an ear, or my advice, or perhaps both. It helps really decipher what it is a person may be looking for, some people just want to mind dump and others are looking for some possible solutions or insights either way I can shift my energy accordingly. 
    *Great Post 

  • Drbecozy says:

    It is vivid yet when we are confronted with the challenges, we tend to act and react.  With this blog, now I am able to deal with my children easily and confidently.  Thanks Esparanza

  • Esperanza says:

    Hi Drbecozy, so glad you received some insight with this article.  I know most of the time children just want to be heard, understood, and supported.  I see it work magic over and over.  Usually they can resolve the situation in a balanced way, when given an objective ear, with soft guidance. Thank you for sharing here.  May 2012 bring you Love, Peace and Joy within you, and around you! Esperanza

  • Esperanza Universal says:

    How great Sirita for being so available to serve in this capacity.  So often people just want someone to listen objectively and supportively. Thank you for sharing here! God Bless You in 2012, you deserve it! Paz, Esperanza

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