We all have our personal heroes. They may be someone we don’t personally know, such as a soldier, a fireman, or a paramedic, or they may be someone close to us, such as a parent or a best friend. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to see our heroes as untouchable. They cannot be hurt or have difficulties. But, according to Meredith Iler, they often do and they need to be supported in that.
Meredith Iler on How to Support a Hero
It is likely that your personal hero, regardless of who they are, won’t come out and tell you that they are experiencing a crisis. It is up to you to spot these difficulties. Perhaps a new homeless person has appeared in your city center, or maybe your father is starting to avoid social situations. You need to look for the signs yourself and, for once, be their hero.
There are five key things that Meredith Iler believes are important when it comes to helping a hero and effectively becoming a hero yourself. Those are:
- Accept that it is possible that there is nothing you can do. Your hero is unlikely to want your help, and they may just want to be left alone. If that is what they want, then that is what you should do. But do try to keep a bit of a watchful eye out for them. Showing that you care is hugely important, even if you don’t actually do anything.
- Tell them that you are there. Offer any help that you have available and do so concretely. Don’t make them ask for help, but tell them what you are willing to do for them, so they only have to answer with “yes” or “no”.
- Be a listener, not a judger. When your hero tells you what is wrong with them, they often only want to offload. They don’t expect you to come up with a solution, they just want you to listen. And maybe they will tell you a few things that you don’t like as well, and you have to be able to hear that without judging.
- Acknowledge how they feel. Do not tell them that there are people out there who have it worse, or that they “at least” don’t suffer from other things as well. Their pain is real and acute, and it isn’t diminished by knowing that others suffer, too.
- Don’t treat them any differently. This is particularly important if your hero is someone you have long been close to. They don’t want pity, nor do they want to be mollycoddled. They simply want to be respected and to feel supported. If you start treating them as if they are somehow fragile, they are unlikely to want to open up to you anymore.
These five steps can be applied regardless of who your hero is, and what they are going through. It is about being empathic, supportive, and caring. And that, at the end of the day, is what will make you a hero, too.