Be Someone's Guardian Angel

From time to time, someone in your life will go through a difficult time that distresses and upsets them. Whether the root of the problem is psychological, financial, or related to their career or relationships, this person may ask you to offer them warmth and support. If someone that you know or care for is going through a time of difficulty in their life, you may need to play the part of their “guardian angel”: an individual who can watch over and comfort this person who is unhappy and suffering. By deciding how someone needs assistance and being there for them through a difficult time, you can provide major emotional support to a person in need.


Identifying How You Can Help People

  1. Identify any special talents and skills that you possess. The things that you know how to do well may be a good way for you to help someone. Consider your talents and any special skills that you possess and that you could put to use to help someone. Some things that might be useful to others include:
    • Knowledge of tax preparation to help someone do their taxes.
    • Writing abilities to help someone craft a good resume.
    • Knowledge of a subject to help someone prepare for a test.
    • Knowledge of home repairs to help someone fix something in their home.
  2. Assess your financial situation. If you have the financial freedom to help someone with things like food, rent, utility costs, or other necessities, then this may also be a great way to help.[1] Think about your financial situation and figure out how much money you could potentially give someone who is in need of help.
    • For example, if you usually have enough money left over from your basic expenses to save $200.00, then you might consider using this money to help someone buy groceries or pay their heating bill for one month.
    • Don’t worry if you do not have much money to help someone with. Even a small amount, such as $5.00 may be a huge help to someone. However, there are other ways to help if you can’t give money at all.
  3. Consider your other resources. Owning certain resources may give you opportunities to help people in need. Take stock of what you own that might be useful to someone else. Some things you might use to benefit someone else include:
    • A spare room in your home.
    • Extra clothes and shoes that you can loan or donate to someone.
    • A car that you can use to provide transport for someone who is without a means of transportation.
    • A lawnmower to help someone care for his or her lawn.
  4. Note anything else that you have to offer. You might have some other ways that you can help someone who is in need of help. Try to think about any other skills or assets that you can use to benefit others. Some other ways you might help someone include:
    • Spending some of your spare time with someone who is lonely, such as an elderly friend or relative who is living alone or in a nursing home.
    • Offering to run errands for someone who is housebound.
    • Providing free child care to a single mother who cannot afford a babysitter.

Identifying People in Need of Help

  1. Identify people who are in need of financial help. If you have a friend or acquaintance who is struggling financially, then this person may benefit from your help. You might consider offering financial assistance to help the person if you can, or you might look for other ways to help this person using your skills or assets.[2]
    • Some people may feel uncomfortable if you make a big deal of helping them financially. Try to be subtle about offering financial help. For example, if you notice that a friend is struggling to afford her basic needs each month, such as food, rent, and utilities, then you might try inviting her to dinner once per week and send her home with some leftovers. You can say something like, “I will never be able to eat all of this extra food! Can you please take some home with you?”
    • Be direct and considerate if you want to give someone money. If you want to offer money to someone, then you might say something like, “I have noticed that you are struggling. I care about you and I want to help. Will you please let me give you some money to help with your groceries this month?”
  2. Look out for major emotional and life changes. People who are struggling emotionally may also benefit from your help. If you see someone who is going through a difficult time, offer to spend time with them, talk with them, and support them however you can.
    • For example, if you have a friend who seems depressed, then you might offer to help by saying something like, “I have noticed that you seem a little down lately. Do you want to talk about it? I am always here for you if you need me.”[3]
  3. Offer your help if someone asks. Try to be on the lookout for opportunities to help people, but you can also help someone who asks for your help. This might be someone who you know well or it might be a stranger. But being willing to help when someone asks you is a great way to be that person’s guardian angel.
    • For example, if a friend calls you and asks if you can talk, then take some time to meet up with her and find out what is going on.[4] If a homeless person asks if you can spare a dollar, give the person a dollar if you can.

Providing Support to an Individual Who Needs It

  1. Empathize without claiming to have had the same experience. When providing emotional support, it’s important to try to understand what the situation is like for the person you are helping. Set aside your own opinions, and sympathize with their perspective.
    • That said, you should not talk over them and relate one of your own “similar” experiences; this will come across as insensitive or even sound like you are boasting or placing your emotional needs above theirs.[5]
  2. Listen to what they have to say. When this person wants to talk, listen without providing advice or input of your own. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do for someone is just to listen to what they’re going through, without trying to interrupt or judge their situation.[6]
    • Don’t brush them off or say that you don’t have time to hear what they have to say.
    • Often acknowledging people’s pain and sadness is worth more than all the advice and guidance you might have in store.
  3. Provide physical assistance for someone. Although many of the ways in which you can support an individual are through emotional support, there are ways in which you can physically be a “guardian angel.” Perhaps you could even donate blood if they have an illness with medical repercussions.[5] Ask the person you are helping:
    • “Can I help by driving you to the grocery store or other errands?”
    • “Would it be helpful if I went to doctor appointments with you?”

Supporting Someone Over Time

  1. Remind someone that you care about them. Showing that you care about someone’s emotional and physical well-being is an important gesture; it lets them know that they can continue to come to you for emotional support, and that there is trust and familiarity in the relationship. To remind someone you care, try:
    • Send them a card or an email reminding them they’re on your mind.
    • Come straight out and say something like, “You’re an important part of my life.”
  2. Suggest professional help if someone shows signs of depression. While supporting the people in your life is a valuable interpersonal skill, it does not replace a need for professional mental care. [6] If the person you are caring for suffers from depression or another type of mental illness, they may need more assistance than your support provides.
    • Focus on how you can help the person rather than trying to solve their problems for them. For example, if the person has lost his home and job, then you can help the person with a job search, but do not do the job search work for him. Sit down with him and help him with the search, application process, deciding what to wear for an interview, etc.
    • Do not try to replace a medical or mental health professional. For example, if the person has schizophrenia, then do not try to manage the person’s condition without medical assistance.
  3. Be available for someone to vent to. By supporting this individual, you have made a decision to support them over a long period of time. There will be setbacks and difficult times—when this person wants to express frustration, sadness, or is upset, be there for them.
    • When this person is angry, let them cry or vent, rather than trying to improve their emotions or make them feel happy.
    • If this person feels like their situation is hopeless, assure them that they will pull through regardless of how tough things seem right now. Try saying something like, “I know things might seem bad right now, but this is only a temporary setback. Things will get better.”

Practicing Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Treat an individual with spontaneous kindness. You can still be a “guardian angel” for an individual (or individuals) that you don’t see often through showing love and kindness. All of these things can make a positive difference in someone’s day-to-day life. Try something like:
    • Smile or hold the door open for someone.
    • Say something optimistic to a person who seems down.
  2. Notice if a stranger is struggling. If someone that you don’t know seems to be having a difficult time physically or emotionally, kindly offer to help.[7] The kindness of can mean a lot to a person in a difficult situation.
    • If you see someone in a crowded location who is struggling to carry their bags or possessions, offer to help them carry something.
    • If you see someone walking in adverse weather conditions, stop your car and offer to give them a lift (if you feel safe doing so).
    • If you see someone upset or crying in public, ask them, “Is everything alright?” and offer them a tissue.
    • Always treat people with courtesy, and don’t presume that they will want your help. If you offer your assistance and someone declines, do not press the issue.
  3. Form a routine of performing kindnesses. Rather than approaching random acts of kindness as an incidental, unplanned activity, make it a part of your daily (or weekly) routine. You don’t have to go out of your way to do this; simply show kindness to those in your life or who you meet.[8]
    • Talk to your co-workers and compliment them when they do a job well.
    • Once a week, buy groceries for someone who needs the financial help, like a student or single parent.


  • If you are playing the role of a “guardian angel,” you may need someone to support and encourage you, as well. It’s a two-way street; when you feel stressed or disheartened, let someone return the favor and comfort you.
  • The person you are helping may not express gratitude for what you’ve done. If this happens, don’t feel hurt, but understand that you’ve provided important emotional support.


  • It’s important to confirm that the individual you are helping wants this support. If they make it clear that they do not want your help or emotional support, you should back off.
  • Be careful not to nurture others to the point of exhausting yourself or harming your own mental health.

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Sources and Citations