How To Help Someone In Pain

November 12, 2012

You can’t take on other people’s pain. Your rational mind knows this, of course. So I’m just going to speak to the irrational part for a minute.

You can’t grieve for them. There is no amount of tears you can shed that will lessen theirs.

When my kid is sick, there is no amount of sick I can make myself (with worry, no doubt) that will make them better. There is no amount of fear you can feel that will make someone’s plight less scary.

I worked with an incredible, loving mother who admitted that a very small, irrational part of her believed that if she suffered enough it might circumvent some of her son’s suffering.

That thought is not unique to her. I hear it all the time. But it doesn’t work that way.

Just the opposite is true. The way we heal other people is by staying calm, connected to our peaceful core, and by not crossing that line into the mess they are feeling.

Staying peaceful and connected in the face of others’ pain is not heartless. It’s actually the most loving thing you can do for them.

There is nothing noble about diving into their hurt. That only magnifies and spreads it, and freaks them out even more.

This is not about denial. Acknowledge their pain if you want—it’s clearly very real to them. Give them the space to feel it fully. But by all means, do not jump into their fearful and frantic story or those sticky emotions in the name of empathy or camaraderie or support. Stay healthy and strong and connected to peace if you want to support them.

See the sick or the weak or the fearful as the highest version of who they really are, beyond the illness. Beyond the temporary fear.

If you want to truly help someone, see them as the highest version of who they are. View them beyond their meat suit. Without that scary story running through their head.

Be the leader by allowing them to stay in full possession of whatever they feel and do not be tempted to feel it for them.

There is nothing helpful about spreading fear. Let them own it and stand in peace instead.


Dr. Amy Johnson is a master certified life coach who helps people connect with their natural wisdom and wellness. She works with clients to understand the nature of thought and live more peaceful, empowered lives. Her book, Modern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life is available on To find out more about her coaching services, visit


Do you have an experience you would like to contribute? Feel free to join the dialogue and share your story in the comments section below.


Stay Connected

Sign up for updates straight to your inbox.