3 Simple Ways to Help Anyone in Your Life

As a life coach and counselor I’m often asked, “How do I help this person in my life?” There’s a simple strategy you can use when someone shares with you–whether it’s a coworker having a bad day, a relative facing a sudden crisis, or someone at church who’s confiding a struggle. 

Think of these three steps as your trump card. They let you always play an ACE that helps those in your life win.   

A – Affirm the emotion 

God gave us a part of our brains called the amygdala that takes care of our flight or fight response. It lets us take action quickly (like when a bear is running after us). While we don’t face many physical dangers in our lives, emotional stress causes this system to kick in as well.

When you’re dealing with a stressed out person you’re talking to their amygdala. This is not about rational thought. Express a message that says, “Hey, I recognize your emotion and validate it.” That calms the flight/fight response and lets the decision-making part of our brains (the prefrontal cortex) kick in and start doing its job. 

{Example: “Wow, you sound really frustrated. What happened?”}


C – Call out the best in the person 

In our most stressful moments, we all have a tendency to feel overwhelmed by guilt and a feeling that we’re not living up to our own or others’ expectations. Or we simply forget who we are in the heat of the moment and act in ways uncharacteristic of us.

What we often need most is someone who can see through to our hearts and remind us of who we really are–the best of us–at the worst of times. That can help us refocus on what matters most and move forward in positive ways. 

{Example: “I’ve seen you deal with situations like this before. Your strength and love for others always shines through in the end. I know it will this time too.”


E – Encourage the next step

Here’s a secret: life coaches and counselors don’t have the solutions. In all of my training, what’s been emphasized most is not magic-bullet cure-all approaches. Instead it’s being a partner on that person’s journey with God to finding their own answers.

Usually, they’ve already got what they need–it’s just a matter of providing a safe space for it to come out. Resist the urge to give advice or tell others what to do. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can offer (and much harder than it seems).

{Example: “I care about you and I wish you weren’t going through this. Now that we’ve talked about it for a few minutes, what do you think you’ll do next”?}

At this point, the person may respond with another emotion. For example, she might say, “I don’t know. I’m just really hurt.” If so, start back with A and go through the process again. 

We often try to make helping others more complicated than it really needs to be. Practice this approach and then make it your own. You are often the best gift you can offer someone who is hurting and you truly do make a difference. 


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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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