One of the traps of our daily life is to attempt to help solve other people’s problems. This does not mean to take on their suffering. This is an important point for quite often people take on the suffering of their loved ones or their children or their clients. In my experience and observation, this DOES NOT work and often it prolongs the suffering. Instead, offer support in a compassionate and caring way. I mentioned earlier putting yourself in the *position* of others, which is not the same as *identifying* with others. When you put yourself in the position of others, maintain the detached view of the witness. Only from here will you be able to support them. When you identify with others, you begin to experience their pain and this can trigger your own "stuff". Once you are triggered, it will be difficult to maintain a neutral perspective. It may even keep you from being responsible for your own life.
So, stay detached and neutral. When you move into the role of support, ask yourself three questions regarding your words and actions: (i) is it kind?, (ii) is it true?, (iii) is it helpful?. When you support people in this way, you are supporting them with what they need, instead of what they want.
(i) Is it kind? Grandma was right, if you cant say something nice, don't say anything. It takes courage for people to talk about what's wrong in their life. Support them by providing the space to gain some momentum. Use the 90 / 10 rule, meaning 90% of what you say should build up what is working for them and 10% of what you say should help to de-construct what is in the way.
(ii) Is it true? An important note, something is true only if everyone agrees to the statement. Always stay with the facts, not stories about the facts. For example "S/he is mean and has a cold heart because s/he yelled at the dog", is a story about the fact that "s/he yelled at the dog." Separate and deal with facts and be careful that you don't assign meaning to what happened. Facts!
(iii) Is it helpful? Tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. If you don't have a clear perspective, or you don't know how to help someone, please tell them. DO NOT get on the train to Awfulville with them. When you don't know how to help someone with their problem, or if you are dealing with the same thing without success you may begin singing the "Aint it Awful" song with them. You will then be on the train to Awfulville. Do not do this, it is not helpful. Instead be honest with them and suggest to them a coach-healer, a teacher or a teaching which has helped you. When making a referral, it is best to make it from your own experience.
The best support you can be for another is to cultivate peace in your life. From a place of peace you will be able to transform any situation by being present with someone and listening. One of the best ways to cultivate peace in your life is to practice meditation regularly.