Words of Encouragement for a Friend in Need

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“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” — Oprah Winfrey

There are a few people in life who always seem to know just the right words to say when you’re feeling down. They’re wise and thoughtful. They listen and really care about the challenge in front of you. They’re the best kind of friends.

But what about the times when you need to be the one who offers words of encouragement for a friend in need?

Helping a friend through a difficult time, challenging situation, or just a bad day is something most of us wouldn’t think twice about helping with, but finding the right words isn’t always easy.

We want to say the right thing, especially when we care so much about our friend. But sometimes those words feel like they fall short and keep us from fully expressing our support.

Words of encouragement can make a world of difference, just as our actions do. After all, it’s the small things that can have the biggest impact. 

It might not seem like there’s much you can offer a friend in need of some encouragement, but even just being there and acknowledging it can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to reach out  you never know how much it may mean. 

What are some ways you can support friends in need? 

  1. Check in. Sometimes it can feel awkward to reach out, but ask yourself if you’d want that person to check in with you if you were feeling down. If the answer is yes, trust your gut. Even just a quick note to say “thinking of you!” or an invitation to a hang out can be just the reminder they need that somebody close to them cares. 
  2. Encourage rest. Taking a break can be the most difficult when we need it the most. For your friends who need a break, remind them that their rest is important and will help them go even further, especially when they need to overcome a challenging time.
  3. Listen. Being a sounding board is a great way to offer support, especially because offering any helpful encouragement requires sitting back and listening first. This will also help you determine the best way to help. Sometimes it’s getting out of the way, but other times it may mean giving advice or helping out.

Sending a note with words of encouragement, whether it be a physical card or in a virtual message, can be the perfect way to reach out and show how much you care. (Plus, studies show it’s good for you too!) 

Finding your words of encouragement for a friend

Every situation requires a unique response – that’s what makes words of encouragement so comforting, and there are few better people to deliver it than our close friends. These messages are meant to be positive while reflecting on the difficulty of the challenge. 

You don’t have to distinctly understand what your friend is going through to help cheer them up. You may not share their experience, but you can be a person they can rely on. 

To keep it short, say something that boosts their morale: 

  • “You’ve come so far! Don’t let this setback stop you now.”
  • “I hope you believe in yourself as much as I do.” 
  • “I’m so happy you’re doing what’s best for you!” 
  • “This setback isn’t who you are; it's just what you’re going through.”
  • “I’m sorry things are tough right now, but you’re handling it so gracefully, even when you feel that you aren’t.”

You’ll also want to make sure your message is personal, so include details that are relevant, but don’t feel the need to write a book. It’s often the messages that are sweet and to the point that can have the most impact. Your message should make clear that you’re offering your support and you believe in your friend: 

  • “Hang in there. I know your next breakthrough is just around the corner.”
  • “Your tenacity is so inspiring to everybody around you, and we’re cheering you on!”
  • “You’re taking on so much right now, please let me know what I can do to help lighten your load.”
  • “I’m here no matter what!”
  • “You’re going through so much right now. How about we grab dinner soon and decompress?”

Being encouraging and offering support — such as dropping off a meal or even just offering a quick distraction — go hand in hand, and it doesn’t take much to find a way to do both. 

Encouragement comes in different forms, so keep that in mind as well as you’re putting your thoughts together. A lighter situation may invite humor, but something more serious might mean you need to be too. Match the gravity of the situation. As their friend, you’ll be able to tell how light-hearted you can be and what constitutes a more pressing matter. 

If you’re trying to lift a new friend up and don’t know them as well, offer a sincere message, but don’t feel too bad if they don’t respond right away or they feel distant. In challenging situations or on hard days, it can be difficult to communicate, but know that your words of encouragement are helpful.

Words of encouragement can be just that, encouraging, but also be mindful that they’re sincere and not empty. That’s usually what hangs us up – we want our friends to know that our words of encouragement are genuine, even when they’re simple. 

Worry less about bring perfect and more about your delivery and your message. You will regret saying nothing at all more than saying something that you feel falls short.

It is far more likely that whatever words you share won't fall short and will be appreciated. Reaching out to offer a friend words of encouragement doesn’t have the be life-changing  it just has to be full of heart.

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