Being a young adult comes with SO many challenges; we are faced with existing and new challenges every day. They are unavoidable. What is worse is watching your friends face their struggles and having NO idea what to say. Even worse, saying the wrong things. Take it from a girl who has been through a few struggles here and there; there really is a wrong thing to say.
1. "I understand"
You most certainly can relate with their problems; relating is a whole different thing. Understanding their problems? Now that is a different story. Hearing the words "I understand" followed with a far-fetched story about how your brother's friend's sister once went through something similar is not what they want to hear. Everyone's problems and challenges are their own. When you are going through your own personal struggles, they are just that. Personal. Those challenges are theirs to understand, not yours.
2. "It's going to be okay"
You don't know that, so once again you can't say this either. You can say something more along the lines of, "Not every day will be this hard." Hearing that everything will be okay doesn't bring comfort. When you are facing something that seems nearly impossible to make it through, thinking that it will all be okay is nothing but a fantasy.
3. "Just try not to think about it"
How can they not think about it?! Your friend's struggles could feel endless and so overwhelming. Saying this to distract them is almost a joke. This statement should be avoided at all costs. By all means, distract your friends though. Be there for them. Try to change their focus with your actions and not with this meaningless phrase.
4. "Other people have much worse problems"
Now this one just gets under my skin. I am tense just writing this phrase. Just, no. No, no, no. While this is true, it is far from what they want to hear. It only makes them feel pathetic for even having their own struggles. No one deserves for their hurt and hardships to not be taken seriously.
5. "Life isn't fair"
We all know this. We live this mantra every single day. It doesn't need to be repeated or even spoken out loud, ever. Just trust me on this one.
6. "Just cheer up!"
Ah, another favorite of mine. If they could "just cheer up" they would. Believe me. This is another great example of how you can show them instead of tell them. Attempt to cheer them up. Take them out to get their favorite shake. Invite them on a run (endorphins are freaking amazing for you). Anything to show you care.
The best advice I have to give is this; put yourself in their shoes. Would the words you are saying benefit you? Are they what you would want to hear? If the answer is no, then it is probably best to keep those words to yourself. Be there for your friends. They need it. Show them with your actions and not just meaningless phrases.