We all know and have that one friend who is always there for everyone. She encourages, challenges, and rides for you. The "strong friend" is the go-to person for everything under the sun but is rarely checked on or has their empathy and altruism appropriately reciprocated.
Speaking from experience, being the "strong friend" can become exhausting and has a taxing impact on one's health.
The strong woman, superwoman, and strong friend in your life may never admit their vulnerability or how you can show up for them. She will just keep going, keep showing up, keep answering your calls, keep being strong through it all, and won't complain. But, she could use some reciprocity. Here's how you can check on her!
Don't Be Generic
When checking on, asking "How Are You?" can be open-ended and ambiguous. Due to this, responses can be an inaccurate representation of how someone is truly feeling or dealing with their circumstances.
Instead of the generic, "How are you," try a few of the more specific alternatives
How are you feeling at this moment?
I'm thinking about you. What can I do for you right now?
How are you taking care of yourself these days?
Is there anything you need to talk about?
How are you holding up?
How has life been? What is new with you? What has been going on in your life lately?
What's new with you since I last saw you?
These alternatives can help develop a deeper and more honest conversation.
Show Appreciation and Acknowledgement
Acknowledge your friend's constant support for you and others. You can do this by a simple Thank you: "I see you and all you do for me and for others. Thank you"
Or go the extra mile by sending a gift to encourage them to take some time for themselves. This can be a gift card to a spa session or favorite restaurant, a candle, feel-good tea, or exercise equipment.
Whatever you give or say, the most important thing to do is put in the extra effort to value your friend(s) who have consistently been there for others without asking for anything in return.
Just Do It - Don't Ask
When someone is used to being the rock for everyone else, they might not even know how to ask for help. So when wanting to support your strong friend, try not to ask them, "do you need help." Instead, just do it - pick up groceries for them, help them move to their new place, or just show up and state, "I'm here to help, put me to work."
This deliberate act of support can be extremely helpful when they are experiencing a loss or difficult life transition. If you are unsure if your friend needs help, check out signs that your strong friend needs extra support.
Be Prepared To Just Listen
As a solutions-oriented person, I have been guilty of giving unsolicited advice on many occasions. However, I learned that some people prefer to receive support in listening and just being there for them.
When showing support for a strong friend, be prepared to just listen. There are ways, you provide support to a friend without offering unsolicited advice.
Validate their emotions and feelings
Inquire about their needs and wants
Ask if they would like your opinion before you give it.
It can be tempting to offer solutions when helping. However, the strong friend may not want you to fix things, but to just listen.
All in all, do not forget to check on the people who support you! And of course, be sure you are in a place where you can extend yourself.