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“9: Learn,” Finding Strength in the Lord: Emotional Resilience (2020)

“9: Learn,” Finding Strength in the Lord: Emotional Resilience

Learn—Maximum Time: 60 Minutes

1. Ministering like the Savior

Read:

The Lord has asked us to minister to those around us. The story of Alma and Amulek is instructive. Alma realized that Amulek was truly suffering emotionally, and he personally took him “to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord” (Alma 15:18).

Ponder:

How have people helped you be “strengthened … in the Lord”?

Discuss:

What are ways that we can strengthen others in the Lord?

2. Myths about Helping Others

Read:

There are several common myths you may believe about helping others. As you read through the following myths, evaluate whether or not you have ever felt these ways.

Myth #1:

I Am 100% Responsible for Providing Others the Help They Need.

The Reality:

The Savior is the only true healer of souls, but you can be part of a healing community to bless others. You will become part of this healing community as you offer your unique strengths and perspective and give when you can.

Myth #2:

I Should Be the Expert on Solving Others’ Problems.

The Reality:

Even professional counselors believe their role is simply helping a person make his or her own changes rather than providing an instruction manual. Your role is to love and minister to people, and the Savior will do the healing.

Myth #3:

There Are Quick Fixes to Life’s Problems.

The Reality:

Our culture is one of instant gratification, and quick solutions are promised for nearly anything. But there are rarely quick fixes to life’s problems. Working through change is a process and nearly always takes longer than you think it will. Real change is a refinement process that you or your loved ones have to go through.

Myth #4:

I Don’t Know the Right Thing to Say, so It’s Better I Don’t Say Anything.

The Reality:

The good news is that you often don’t have to say much. The greatest gift you can give others is to show interest in them, ask questions, listen with love, and help them feel safe sharing with you.

Myth #5:

If I Help at All, They Will Always Become Dependent on Me.

The Reality:

As you serve, you can set healthy boundaries to make sure you are taking care of yourself and your family. The Lord can guide you so that you serve in ways that strengthen the other person’s self-reliance. Never underestimate the power that small and simple acts of love can have in people’s lives, and don’t be afraid of investing time and love in someone.

Discuss:

Discuss with a partner one of these myths you may struggle with and how you can overcome it.

3. Respond to Others Appropriately

Read:

Regardless of your best intentions, it is easy to say things that are not very helpful while trying to help someone through difficult times. But this should not scare you away from continuing to try to be helpful. God wants you to love and help His children. Be sensitive to the feelings of those you are trying to help, taking care not to say or do anything that minimizes their pain and difficulty.

Discuss:

What are other phrases you’ve heard that are helpful or not helpful?

4. Validating Others

Read:

Sister Reyna I. Aburto taught, “Even if we do not know how to relate to what others are going through, validating that their pain is real can be an important first step in finding understanding and healing” (“Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 58). To validate people’s feelings means to first accept their feelings and then to understand them.

Below are some steps to help you validate someone who is facing a challenge:

  1. Listen. Be present and listen intently to what the person is telling you. Don’t be defensive if you have contributed to the person’s problem.

  2. Try to understand. You may need to ask compassionate questions to better understand what this person is feeling. Do your best to understand where the person is coming from.

  3. Accept the person’s feelings. Don’t try to change the person or say he or she is wrong for feeling this way. As you do this, be careful not to encourage unhealthy or harmful thinking patterns.

  4. Express compassion. Express that you care about what the person is feeling. Even if you can’t relate to the situation or the cause of the feeling, you can validate the person’s feelings by saying things like “You feel disrespected [or anxious, hopeless, worthless, angry, and so on]. It’s hard to feel that way.”

  5. Show love. Tell this person that you care about them and that you are confident in his or her ability to solve or overcome the problem.

Read:

Here is an example of how you could validate someone going through a hard time:

Jill is a single mother whose son recently died from a drug overdose. She lives alone and doesn’t have family nearby. Maria came by to talk to her and ask her how she was doing. Maria was tempted to interrupt Jill, but she didn’t. She just listened. When she felt it was appropriate, she asked questions like “How are you feeling right now?” and “What is the most challenging thing for you?” Instead of saying, “At least he’s with God now,” she understood that Jill just missed her son. Maria decided to express empathy by saying, “I can tell that you miss him so much, and my heart is breaking with you.” She then showed love by sitting and crying with her.

Tip:

The Church’s website on ministering includes more ideas that could help you understand how to show compassion. See ministering.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

5. Honoring the Agency of Others

Read:

Heavenly Father has given everyone the gift of agency, and individuals are responsible for their own choices regardless of the help you offer. As you reach out to others, remember that you are not responsible for solving their problems or controlling the choices they make. It is important to set your own healthy boundaries while helping others.

The Savior wants you to honor your loved ones’ agency, but that doesn’t necessarily mean standing by passively. Seek the Spirit in helping you understand how you can serve others in ways that honor their agency and that don’t make others feel unheard.

The following are ideas for things you might do in addition to validating feelings and listening:

  • Fast and pray for them.

  • Consecrate your time in the temple on their behalf.

  • Seek professional help and advice.

  • Research emotional health.

  • Send notes of encouragement, or share humorous messages to make them smile.

  • Seek priesthood blessings and counsel.

  • Join a support group for family and friends.

  • Make yourself available to them while maintaining healthy boundaries.

  • Serve them in ways they ask for or agree to—ways that don’t violate their agency or make them feel unheard.

Discuss:

Share an uplifting experience you had while being strengthened or while providing strength to others.

6. Patiently Enduring with Others

Read:

Caring for loved ones can be hard and overwhelming. As you seek to care for those in need, try to be understanding and avoid passing judgment. You can take counsel from the scriptures and “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [you] may be filled with this love,” which is charity, or the love of Christ (Moroni 7:48).

If you have a loved one with emotional health issues, you may often be so focused on taking care of that person that you forget to take care of yourself. There is help and support for you. Support groups can help family members learn about health problems, ways to help, and strategies for coping with symptoms. Reach out to trusted friends and health-care professionals for help for yourself and your loved one. The support of family and friends can have a positive impact on treatment of serious social and emotional health issues.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled: “For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength [Mosiah 4:27]. Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give ‘love unfeigned’ [Doctrine and Covenants 121:41]” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 41).

Discuss:

What has helped you balance taking care of others and yourself?