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12/08/2014 10:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Best Thing You Can Do When Someone Is Sad (VIDEO)

When someone we love is sad, our gut reaction is often to do one of two things: run from the situation, or try and fix it. Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark, has another approach.

"The best thing to do when sadness has your arms twisted behind your back is to sit down ... and say, 'Tell me about it. I have all day,'" she writes.

In the above clip from Rev. Taylor's recent "Super Soul Sunday" appearance, she and Oprah discuss why this practice is difficult, but important.

"I have a school full of 300 girls who all come from some very traumatic backgrounds, and there's a lot of sadness," Oprah says. "As a matter of fact, three girls lost their parents in one week. So when you say sit down ... and say, 'Tell me about it' -- which I have done -- the tendency for me, and I know a lot of other people who are listening and watching, is that you want to be able to do something. To just sit in the sadness and to say, 'OK, I'll sit here and I'll be sad with you,' that's hard. Because you want to fix it. You want to do something."

Though it may not seem like enough to simply sit in the sadness, Rev. Taylor explains that it can be more meaningful than you know. "I was just reading Maya Angelou last night and she said, 'People will not remember what you said and they will not remember what you did. But they will never forget how you make them feel.' And I think that is what I more and more try to concentrate on."

Just a few comforting words can be enough, she says. "And even a shared tear can be what that child remembers. I always think about giving people permission to feel what they're feeling."

Rev. Taylor believes that by embracing difficult situations, we can find our true selves. She also explains how to how to tackle scary situations head-on, starting with three deep breaths.


"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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