12 Best Things to Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

When people feel bad about themselves and tell you about it using statements like “I’m a mess,” it can be difficult to know what to reply with.

In most situations, it would be better if you let them have their space and time to feel their pain rather than immediately throwing out advice or a solution. It’s a vital part of actually being supportive.

With this in mind, the goal of your response is to show empathy and openness to hear what the other person has to say, while also offering support and a listening ear.

When someone says they are a mess, you can reply by saying, “I’m sorry to hear that. Would you like to talk about what’s going on?” Let the person know you’re there to listen and help if you can. 

Whatever the person has to say will give you a clearer idea of what solutions or advice to give.

I have been in this situation enough times to know that when people say bad things about themselves to you, they aren’t always asking for you to make it better.

It is human nature to want to share. So, offering the person a listening ear is one of the best and easiest ways to respond.

However, it could be that you already know the context or situation that has made the person say, “I’m a mess.”

In such a scenario, you can sympathize with what they’re going through, let them know they’re not alone, and offer to help or say positive things to cheer them up. You don’t necessarily have to try to fix the sadness.

Things to Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

Here are some of the best, most comforting, and most warming things to say when someone says they are a mess:

12 Great Things To Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

1. ‘Think positively’

“Think positively” is a nice thing to say when someone says they are a mess. It is best used when you understand the circumstances leading to the breakdown and you want to encourage them to keep their hopes high.

When you tell the person to think positively, you can back this up with a hug or hold the person’s hands. It’s not too many words, but it’s enough to shape their view of the overwhelming situation. You should also consider the tone while saying this.

  • I’m a mess, John.
  • Hey, man, think positively. I’m here to support you.
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Meanwhile, someone saying “I’m a mess” can mean that they think they are looking dirty and untidy. So you can also use this response to make them see the brighter side of their appearance.

  • I can’t go out looking this way. I’m a mess
  • You’re okay; think positively.

2. ‘Have you thought about doing (insert advice)?’

Another appropriate thing to say when someone says they are a mess is to offer advice. However, this is tricky. It requires you to first understand the situation that led to the statement before offering advice or suggesting solutions.

So, this response is best used when you are fully aware of why the person feels bad about themselves and you’ve thought of a way to help them out of the situation.

  • I’m a mess
  • I understand how bad you feel about yourself, but have you thought about doing this?
  • I’m such a mess. Look at my life
  • It’s okay. I think what you should do is this… 

3. ‘Cheer up!’

A response as short as “cheer up” could actually go a long way toward cheering the person up. If someone says they are a mess, you can say, “Cheer up,” to encourage them to think positively about their personality.

The term “cheer up” is generally used to make someone less miserable. So it counts as one of the most spirit-lifting things to say when someone feels bad about themselves, irrespective of the context or circumstances.

  • Look at me, Ray. I’m a mess
  • Cheer up, girl.

It is a statement you use to make the person realize that things will get better and there’s no need to cry over spilled milk.

4. I’ve been through this many times too. Here’s what worked for me….

Another effective way to be a wonderful friend when someone comes to you and says they are a mess is to resonate with their emotional state of mind and offer solutions based on your experiences.

Somehow, people have confidence in what you say when your story ties in with what they are currently going through. By using this statement, you are giving them hope and uplifting their spirits.

  • I’m a mess
  • I’ve been through this many times myself. Here’s what worked for me…

It is important that you only say this when you genuinely resonate with the situation they are going through. Otherwise, it is best to say something else.

5. ‘Do you want to talk about it?’

As I mentioned earlier, giving a listening ear is a powerful way to empathize with someone. It also doubles as the best thing to do when you don’t know what to say.

When someone says they are a mess, even over text, you can ask them if they want to talk about it. Whatever they say will give you a better understanding of what they are going through, and whether you can be of help or offer support in whatever capacity

  • I’m a mess
  • Do you want to talk about it?
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If you presume that the person is going to decline to talk and you are really interested in getting the person to talk, you can use reverse psychology to make them vent:

  • I’m a mess.
  • It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m always here whenever you want to talk

Things to Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

6. ‘ Isn’t it time you got over this?’

You can say “Isn’t it time you got over this?” when the statement is recurring. Sometimes, no matter the cheers you give, people do not just want to move on. In such situations, I would recommend that you say things to boost their morale.

Make them see the positive side of getting past the overwhelming situation. This will evoke their resilience and courage to look beyond the storm and think positively about themselves.

  • I’m a mess
  • Isn’t it time you got over this?

7. ‘I can just sit here with you. We don’t have to talk’

When people feel utterly wretched, they can express their emotion by saying bad things about themselves such as “I’m a mess”

In such situations, whatever you say may not fix their problem, and they may not even need any advice at that moment. However, offering to just sit there with them without necessarily having to talk can be comforting.

It is a subtle way to send the message that you will stand by them and be a shoulder to lean on.

  • I’m a mess
  • I understand how you feel, Khloe. We don’t have to talk; I’m happy to just sit here with you.

8. ‘Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure everyone else is just pretending to have it together too.’

Another good thing to say when someone says they’re a mess is to remind them that they’re not alone. There are billions of people on the planet that are in even worse situations, yet they pretend to have it together.

This response also has a humorous undertone that transforms the atmosphere from desolation into cheer.

  • I’m a mess
  • Don’t worry; I’m pretty sure everyone else is just pretending to have it together too.

Alternatively, you can simply say that the person is not alone in such a mess. Many people walking about are dealing with internal battles, and we would only get to know about them if they chose to tell.

  • I’m a mess.
  • I understand how you feel, but I want you to know that you’re not alone, if that will make you feel better in any way.

9. “Well, this is life giving you lemons. I say you add vodka and throw a party.’

When people say they are a mess, it means they are in a bad emotional state. You can cheer them up in a funny way by using the proverbial lemons from life.

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Usually, the pattern is to say that “if life gives you a lemon, make a lemonade,” but for humor – to make the person cheerful and happy again – you can change the course of the proverb and initiate an activity to take the person’s mind off his or her worries.

10. ‘Is there anything I can help with?’

Simply offering to help in any capacity is another supportive way to respond when someone says they are a mess or even “in a mess”

This response can work for different scenarios, from something as trivial as someone looking untidy or not properly dressed to someone being in a bad emotional state. Here’s how:

  • Look at how I dress. I’m a mess
  • Is there anything I can do to help?


  • I don’t have friends. I’m a mess
  • I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?

Things to Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

11. ‘Can I help around the house?’

The goal here is not to always offer to help around the house. I have just used that as an example of how you can offer to be supportive in a very specific way when someone says they are a mess.

Sometimes, the person is not expecting you to fix their problem. But offering to help can show your support.

It is not even enough to offer to help because, in most cases, when I offer to do anything, I often get the response, “It’s okay. Don’t worry yourself.”

But when you offer something specific like helping around the house, bringing them a meal, helping with little chores, and so on, it shows your support and sympathy.

12. ‘You are doing great, and I’m proud of you.’

Sharing positive opinions about people is one way to encourage them and boost their self-esteem.

When someone says to you that they are a mess, you can compliment their effort regardless. This forces them to see the positive side of being alive and embrace that personality.

You may not have a full idea of how encouraging your compliments are but for someone going through a lot that is enough to call themselves a mess, it means the world to them.

So don’t hold back the compliments when words fail you. Use it to encourage them out of the ugly situation.

  • I’m a mess
  • No. You’re doing great, and I’m proud of you.

Alternatively, you can amplify the compliment and say something sweeter.

  • I’m a mess
  • No. The world is a better place by you being in it.

Things to Say When Someone Says They Are A Mess

Something more? Try my default response for this situation:

Many times, when I have conversations with people and they say to themselves, “I’m a mess,” I usually resolve to remind them that we aren’t machines and this is not a one-size-fits-all universe.

My favorite response for this situation is to tell the person, “Don’t worry. Most other people are just pretending to have their shit figured out”

Somehow, I’ve figured this makes people feel better, even though it doesn’t directly tackle the problem they’re facing at the time.

The truth is that encouraging people with low self-esteem or shattered hope can be difficult, especially when we are facing worse problems but decide to bottle up.

However, with the repertoire of replies and spirit-lifting responses I’ve shared with you in this article, I’m hoping that you have all you need to make the person feel better, even though it’s not in your capacity to eliminate the material issue.

If words fail you and you forget any of these tips like sand through the fingers, then resort to giving the person a genuine compliment about their character.

With your words, you can help them see the brighter slide – the silver lining.

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