What To Say And Not Say When Someone Is Feeling Down
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What To Say And Not Say When Someone Is Feeling Down

Everyone wants to feel happy, but the reality of being human is that at times, people feel down. Whether it’s from receiving bad news, or from one’s health being offset in some way, or for a number of other possible reasons, there will be days when a person will feel blue.

What are you to do when you encounter a loved one, friend or acquaintance who is feeling sad and is not quite being himself or herself? First of all, know that despite your best efforts, you may not be able to cheer him up, but you can say a few compassionate, well-chosen words that will make the person feel a little better. Let’s look at what not to say, and then focus on a couple of things you may want to say to help the other person.

What Not To Say

“Cheer up – you’re being a real drag and nobody wants to be around you.” This is a very inappropriate thing to say to somebody who’s sad. First of all, you are showing no empathy or compassion whatsoever. And second, it’s not the person’s responsibility to be fun or cheerful when she doesn’t feel good. Such a statement is very insensitive and does not remedy the situation at all.

“It’s not so bad. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t be feeling so down.” Well, you’re not in the person’s shoes, so you can’t give such advice. Maybe in your eyes the situation is not so bad, but in the sad person’s eyes, it’s a tragedy. You cannot make such a judgment. Again, it will not make the other person feel any better.

What To Say

“I’m here if you need me, or if you want to talk.” With these few words, you are speaking volumes. You’re showing the sad person that you’re available, should he need you. You’re also extending an invitation for him to share with you, but in a non-pushy, non-threatening way. In essence, you’re being a true friend who exhibits compassion and empathy.

“I can’t make it better, but I’m here for you.” Again, you’re showing the individual that you are present and engaged, that you care, and that you are willing to be supportive while this person feels out of sorts. Just knowing that you’re there can be enough to make the other person feel much, much better. She now knows that she’s not alone, and that she has someone to turn to.

Our words have power, and when we think and feel before we speak, we can help lighten someone’s load by creating a level of positive energy that was absent before. How do you want to be treated when you’re down? You want to be supported, not lectured, and accepted, not judged. Remember these points, and you’ll be more likely to say the right thing.

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Comments (19)

Words are as powerful as sharp edged instruments to touch deep into the feelings of our souls and spirits so it extremely essential to choose our words whem we are trying to hep some one who is feeling sabd and down.

Thank you for your insightful comment, Tadewos -- I most assuredly agree with you.

Ranked #12 in Wellness

wonderful wonderful wonderful you would make a great counselor if you are not one already

Ranked #36 in Wellness

I totally agree with everything that you have written in this piece, Graciela. Another thing that people often say that they should never say is, "I know how you feel." No one can really know how another feels because they are not that person. Even if that person had experienced the same thing in their life, no two people react to any given event in the same way. It would be much to say something like, "I can only imagine how that must make you feel."

VERY GOOD, I really liked this.

Ranked #15 in Wellness

It's funny.  A friend and I were talking the other day about the things people say.  Good article.

Thank you, Carol, Jerry, Deepa, and Sandy, for your kind words of support and your insightful comments! I completely agree, Jerry,  the statement "I can only imagine how that must make you feel" is infinitely more helpful.

Ranked #2 in Wellness

You have empowered counselling at your utmost here Graciela. Prolific and thoughtful article!

Thank you, Ron and everyone!

This is really great advice.

Ranked #1 in Wellness

Good points to remember.

Thank you, Martin and Roberta!

Yes I a gree the simplest words can be the sharpest weapons.

So true, Gerard.

I totally agree with you; a great article indeed! Thank you so much.

Thank you, Francois!

I agree that telling someone to cheer up is not advisable. It can lead to frustration for that person and lack of communication. Good article!

Very good points, Christy, thank you.

Excellent. I really appreciated your article, Graciela. Thank you.