When a good friend's unhappy, you want to offer them a shoulder to cry on and listen to their troubles. Later, though, you may imagine it's time for them to stop grieving over what ails them and cheer up. You do your best to be upbeat and think you help them. Your good intentions, however, won't make your friend better. Being overly positive may make them feel misunderstood and lonely. It's more constructive to validate their feelings rather than gloss over difficult emotions. These tips show you how.

Uncover emotions

Everyone heals from painful experiences in their own time. Your friend will grieve for as long as is necessary, no matter whether you think they should move on. If you suspect they are stuck in a rut, repeatedly reliving difficulties, you may be right. However, trying to steer them off troubling topics and encouraging them to be positive isn't helpful.

If your pal takes a long time to recover from a painful event, show support. Recognize the emotions you can pick out from the stories they tell. People often seem stuck like the needle of a record, replaying old problems because they don't know how to voice their feelings and find validation.

Telltale signs of quashed feelings include recounts of troubles involving resentment and anger. Resentment builds when people don't feel heard or understood. Often, emotional angst is released when someone who cares recognizes the pain hidden in the retelling of problems and gives it a voice.

Releasing pain

If you think you have uncovered emotions hidden in your friend's tales, ask if you are right. When you correctly voice their pain, repressed feelings will flow as though a floodgate's opened. Once the pain finds an outlet, there will no longer be a need to mull over hurtful memories.

You offer validation to your friend when you accept what they say. Seek emotional content rather than facts from their tales. Resentment often covers the pain beneath angry words and repetitive stories that need an outlet.

Ask if you are right about the information you uncover too. It gives your friend the chance to clarify their feelings and know they are heard. Your loving support will help them heal from old wounds and clamber out of their rut.