The topic of emotional support is dear to my heart; I believe it is the most important kind of support for those going through difficult times. At its core, it provides love, acceptance and stabilizes a favorable foundation for all your relationships. Emotional support is essential in any healthy relationship; it is the essence of emotional intimacy. Without emotional support, your relationships can be negatively impacted and ultimately sabotaged.
What emotional support is not:
Emotional support is not giving advice or providing a solution. Research shows that giving advice or providing a solution is rarely well-received. When giving unsolicited advice or solutions, its underlining message implies they can't solve the problems themselves. Unless someone is asking for your advice, "What are your thoughts?" "What do you think I should do?" they don't want you to solve their problem. Most want to be heard, validated and acknowledged. Listen to them, giving your full attention, and let them speak without interrupting. The simple act of being supported can make all the difference. The people in your life can support you in different ways; it is the quality of your connection that matters. You are trusting the person(s) that your confidence won't be broken, or you won't be judged.
What is emotional support?
Emotional support is holding a space for others, staying present, listening, having empathy and compassion for the person who is expressing and experiencing. Allowing others to communicate their challenges and respond with a gentle, empathetic, and caring nature can increase their ability to care for themselves.
Emotional support is one of our basic needs as a human being to have real, authentic, meaningful connections with others. It provides a feeling of unconditionally accepted and cared for when emotionally supported; you feel less alone. You have someone who is there to help you through your difficult times.
The two most integral parts that define emotional support are being a good listener and respecting others' feelings. Listening skills require actively engaging in what someone is telling you, giving them all your attention, focusing on only them. Respecting and validating others' feelings can be exercised through a compassionate tone with encouraging words, "I'm sorry you are going through this." "It is understandable that you feel that way."
Keep in mind that everyone's experience and feelings are unique and individual to them. No one's feelings are wrong; they are different than yours or someone else.
Research shows that healthy and supportive relationships can reduce stress and improve your overall health and well-being. Building a supportive friends network, or even one supportive relationship can be vital to your emotional health.