It feels so happy to free a burdened, lost, and anxious soul. I just came from a calm, sincere, and heart-to-heart talk with my best friend who I think was lost, and I’m just too inspired not to write about the experience immediately. If there’s one thing I realized, it’s that love finds its way without forcing itself. It finds your way, as it did mine, and as it did Thea’s. So I’m writing about how to help a lost friend—but maybe, just not the conventional way.
To tell you honestly, everything was unexpected. But, I wasn’t surprised about the result, either. Maybe, starting this blog out helped me prepare for it. I honestly didn’t see it coming, but our conversation went to the deepest parts of how she felt, why she’s rebelling, and why she’s acting as if she’s lost. And she quite is.
1. Just Listen
Maybe the first thing I did right in this long, patience-testing process was learning to just listen.
At the beginning, there were times when I was tempted to answer immediately back. Later, I realized I just needed to see beyond how the things she’s saying are affecting me. After all, it wasn’t about me. It was about her. And her struggles. And letting her let it out.
Speaking of an outlet, maybe that’s just what Thea needs. Maybe your friend is like that, too. Perhaps your friend—or dad or mom or brother or sister or special someone—just wants to let it out, whatever it is. And it’s not necessarily for you to understand.
Instead, it’s primarily for her to understand the thing herself. (I’m using the pronoun to primarily refer to Thea, but the principle clearly applies to him’s as well. This goes for all the she pronouns in this post.)
Again, your friend just needs to let those feelings out and you are to receive them with open-mindedness and calmness.
2. Understand, Anyway
Well, when you do listen well, you could be surprised at how much wiser you’ve become in understanding the person.
While your friend’s talking and your listening are primarily for her benefit—for her to understand things herself—you’ll find yourself trying to understand, anyway.
You see, when you don’t bend your best energies on framing up a reply, and instead just listen, you get a clearer, sounder judgment. You almost naturally can read between the lines. You get a sharper picture of her face, and you can now see if her body language really cooperates with her words.
It turns out that the better you are at listening, the wiser you become at understanding.
Sympathize and empathize—complete it with feeling the pain and putting yourself in that very situation.
Well, it does sound like the Golden Rule. Do to her as you would have her do to you were you in her shoes. (I’m paraphrasing a little bit, of course.)
Now, this isn’t about complying with a religious command, but the principle is simple enough that it doesn’t have to have the approval of a ceremony just for it to hold true as a fundamental necessity to harmonious living.
Simply put, trying to experience or even just feel what others are struggling about would help you avoid heartless judgments about the situation. And, more than just understanding the bigger picture, it’s about finding a way to start heading toward the solution.
The better you are at listening, the wiser you become at understanding.
4. Stay Honest
Even if it hurts, be open and stay honest. It’s the secret to a successful, truly heartfelt conversation. Honesty leads to real resolutions.
That’s how my best friend Thea has finally opened up. I started opening up. I did listen, understand, and empathize—first. I told you it was a long process.
Then today, I opened up how I was giving her my best shot. I told her I was afraid of losing her. I told her how tired I was with failed friendships, and that I promised myself I would at last succeed with her.
But then, her reply crushed me—well, no. She just paid honesty back. She was brutally honest (in a good sense, I think), because finally, she didn’t have to assume or pretend anymore.
My honesty set her free—free enough for her to fearlessly tell her side of the story, too. I’d say I reaped just what I sowed.
Just as you would want to stay honest because you’d like to be at peace and face the facts, you’d want to hear an honest answer, too.
Just hours ago, I did get to hear some hurtful things about how Thea really felt about our relationship. I promise, if I wasn’t prepared for it, I would have stabbed myself to death.
Hearing from your beloved how she’s confused if she really loved you or just hated you doesn’t sound like you’ll still have the guts to live for another day or two.
But, surprisingly—or even miraculously—I did get to live. I am as alive now as I’m writing this post with fullness of inspiration.
I just think truth really has its way of setting you free.
So, if your beloved told you the truth, try to freely accept it. I know you’ll love it, because I did, for real.
Truth has its way of setting you free.Pensive Feels
6. Never Dictate
I find this as one, really powerful, “secret” ingredient that begs secrecy no more. Not many people are able to apply this step, though. Maybe, it’s just because they feel listening to a friend cry her heart out just means they need to answer back or they somehow need to dictate a step-by-step direction.
But, rather than freeing the lost, I’ve seen dictation ruin a burdened soul more than anything else.
Instead of telling your lost friend what to do, just ask her open-ended questions that let her find the way herself.
Letting Thea realize things for herself lighted those eyes more than any of my words did.
7. Love Truly
I just think that if you truly loved the person, you would be able to do all these things above.
Because, after all, love isn’t about you. Love is about giving freedom.
And, freedom does entail risks—that includes the possibility of you getting hurt in the process. But, even if truth hurts, it’s always better than fake.
And love isn’t supposed to be fake.
A fake love—if the juxtaposition is even justifiable—that’s the kind of love that I would want the least from Thea. But she just truthfully told me that she felt indebted to me. That is why she’s confused if she really loves me.
She says she probably hates me (more than she loves me) because of all the things that I ever did, and she did, too. And that the only thing that’s keeping her with me is indebtedness. Of course, I didn’t want that. It sounds forced.
Even if truth hurts, it’s always better than fake.Pensive Feels
So, I asked Thea to let go. No—I didn’t say it exactly that way. I just assured her that she doesn’t have to give me stuff to somehow repay me for all the good things I did for her, too. Yes, I wasn’t all bad, of course. In fact, she assured me that she couldn’t ditch all our memories together because, while those were tainted with everything bad, it was more filled with everything good.
I’d like Thea to love me truly; but I had to show her how I loved her truly by allowing her to freely see for herself if she ever truly loved me.
8. Forgive Before Forget
So then, that was what Thea realized. Yet that was what she never did her entire life. Until just today.
“Will you still accept my hugs?”
She was crying while she asked.
And those were the sweetest words I have ever heard from her. They were even sweeter than the “I love you’s” she said before that she was all confused about.
Love finds its way without forcing itself.Pensive Feels
When she asked that, I found hope. When she asked if I would still accept her affection, I knew she loved me. She was just confused by her anger, let alone her frustration over herself for not being able to forget the past.
But when she did ask, she realized one thing. She needed to forgive before she can ever truly forget. Yet she was always doing the opposite. She was trying so hard to forget without forgiving me and all the rest that hurt her—all this time.
Now, she knew how she’d be free.