Monday, April 2, 2012

Simple Gestures of Solace - Offering Comfort

One way things many women complain about in their male partners is that we don't know how to listen and be supportive when they are struggling with tough feelings or situations.

Men - and this is a broadly unfair generalization - are fixers. We tend to seek solutions to problems - and this may be an evolutionary adaptation our brains have made. Women - and this is a broadly unfair generalization - are feelers. Women tend to empathize (in the way we most commonly think of empathy) with others, which may also be an evolutionary adaptation of brain function in support of parenting and group cohesion.

We are not locked into these patterns - each gender can learn the skills often seen to be the province of the other. Men can simply offer comfort and solace when needed. We may seem stuck in our ways, but we can learn new tricks.

From the Daily Om.

Simple Gestures of Solace: Offering Comfort

When offering comfort to somebody, their only real need is to have you be in the present moment with them.

Sometimes it is difficult to see someone we love struggling, in pain, or hurting. When this happens, we might feel like we need to be proactive and do something to ease their troubles. While others may want our help, it is important to keep in mind that we need to be sensitive to what they truly want in the moment, since it can be all too easy to get carried away and say or do more than is really needed. Allowing ourselves to let go and simply exist in the present with another person may actually provide a greater amount of comfort and support than we could ever imagine.

Perhaps we can think back to a time when we were upset and needed a kind word, hug, or listening ear from someone else. As we remember these times, we might think of the gestures of kindness that were the most healing. It may have been gentle words such as “I care about you,” or the soothing presence of someone holding us and not expecting anything that were the most consoling. When we are able to go back to these times it becomes easier for us to keep in mind that giving advice or saying more than is really necessary is not always reassuring. What is truly comforting for another is not having someone try to fix them or their problems, but to just be there for them. Should we begin to feel the urge arise to offer advice or repair a situation, we can take a few deep breaths, let the impulse pass, and bring our attention back to the present. Even though we may want to do more, we do not have to do anything other than this to be a good friend.

The more we are attuned to what our loved ones are feeling, the more capable we are of truly giving what is best for them in their hour of need. Keeping things simple helps us give the part of ourselves that is capable of the greatest amount of compassion—open ears and an understanding heart.

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