90% of the times.
They don’t want advice.
When someone comes to you, and they’re hurt, and they start telling you something.
90% of the times, they don’t want advice.
They want acknowledgement. Of their pain, their hurt.
They come, and they tell us about something which is disturbing them. A person, a circumstance, an idea, anything. What we often do is, if we’re really concerned about them and want to help them:
We tell them about the possible solutions. About what that person can do to get out of that situation, what they can do to make everything better.
That’s not bad! That’s not. Because often, when a person is very anxious about something, and there are ’emotions’ involved, the person doesn’t find it easy to deal with the situation. Because there is a huge ’emotional’ aspect of the problem that looms up before them whenever they start thinking about that problem, the logical solutions move into the background.
It’s hard to focus on those practical solutions, because the other ‘feeling’ aspect’s running like adrenaline in the system at that time. And ultimately, that same aspect will assist the person in decision-making, that is a necessity.
But for then, right there, the person looks out and there don’t appear any solutions for that problem, at the horizon of his mind, because he’s looking at the horizon across the flaming sea of emotions which will, for a certain time, rise up and not let him see the horizon.
So there we come, with those solutions. Beacuse that emotional aspect which that person faces is not attached with us to the same extent, we can see those solutions. And then we can tell them to that person too.
But guess what. Most of the times (not always) those are not new ideas for that person.
They know them deep down, even if they’re having trouble visualizing them at that time or acting upon them.
And they themselves will arrive at the same answers once that sea has calmed down a little bit.
So if they already know, why did they come to us?
So that we’ll listen to them.
So that we’ll acknowlegde the problem.
Acknowledge the fact that they’re in a mess.
Agree that it is not easy for them.
And, at the root of it all,
acknowledge their hurt.
Their deep, pure pain.
And this is what we often forget.
This delicate, fragile part.
When they start speaking, we start thinking. Of how to solve that. But what we really need to do is:
First, put ourselves in their shoes. Easier said than done. But we can at least try.
To not ‘see’ what the problem ‘looks’ like, but to ‘feel’ what their problem ‘feels’ like.
How it wounds.
Which parts of the heart it tugs at.
Which part it completely blows apart.
How it hurts.
‘How’ it hurts.
And finally, yes, obviously, the solution. To be delivered after sharing that person’s grief, after getting a taste of their pain, after that person has let at least a little out and has slightly calmed down.
Because, what would be really helpful for them right then, would be to just listen quietly.
To take it in.
To not try to forcefully push away that darkness surrounding them.
But to sit down in their dark with them.
Because, at the end of the day, when we face such situations, what we want is somebody to hold our hand and tell us:
‘It is indeed a problem.
And it’s not easy.
And I can see it hurts.
I can see it hurts.’