What if we just spent today practicing this? The world is full of advisers. Full of people telling us what to do instead of walking with us and supporting us in an empowering way. It comes from a good place, but is it helpful? Can you think about the last time you had a problem and how u felt when everyone around you evaluated what your solution was? What if today we practiced been a questioner instead of offering advice?
“I feel depressed” – “what would help you”?
“I don’t know what to do”? – “would you like me to listen while you look at your options”
“Thanks for ringing me” – “I’m listening, do u want to tell me what’s wrong”
“I feel alone” – “how can I help you to help you”
The only skill required to listen well, is to – SHUT UP!
The answers may not become clear instantly, but you’ve already been a part of solving the biggest suffering for another, the pain of isolation. You’ll keep the door open because they feel heard instead of advised. Very simple, but the genius of it lies in its simplicity. When we give up the egotistical notion that we have the answers to anyone else’s problems, we become the support another needs to finding their own answers. Supporting others in an effective way is a skill any of us can develop.
People solve their problems through self evaluation. Been a listener instead of an adviser empowers others. When we are empowered ourselves, we empower others towards self empowerment. It is not our job to take responsibility for anyone else, we’re not that important. If you are someone who dishes out advice, please also be prepared to take responsibility and continue to be there for the other if your advice goes wrong!
Practice been a listener today. That’s all anyone needs. Advice comes on an invitation basis, “what will I do”, even then you can still ask – “I’m not sure, but do you want me to make you a cup of tea and we’ll try work this out together”? If you really need to tell another what’s right for them, maybe you could try this “I don’t know what the answer is for your life, but I can tell you this, you’re half way towards solving this in just looking for an answer”. “I’m here, keep talking”.
We all have our problems, but we also all have our solutions – all we need is a safe place and that safety comes when no one is in a superior position of been the expert in our lives. No matter what you’ve learned in your life, maybe you might choose to practice unlearning it today if you’re faced with another human who’s suffering. What’s right for you doesn’t mean it’s right for another. Create a space where you’re asking instead of telling. You’d never know, you might just learn something new by listening to their creative genius when they find their solution. And it will definitely bring you both closer.
DON’T TELL WHEN YOU CAN ASK. What do u think?
I’m not telling you this will work, I’m just asking you “do you feel this could work for you and others around you”? 🧡
Norah Finn – Alethea Counseling, Psychotherapy, Supervision, and Training Services.