Advice Vs CompassionSep 05, 2019 05:54PM ● By Terry Chriswell
Think back to the last time someone told you about a challenge she was having. Did you automatically try to help, giving advice to your suffering friend? We’re wired to help others,
and it feels good to our egos to give someone the benefit of our knowledge and experience.
However, sometimes advice backfires and fosters resentment and defensiveness. Sometimes,
advice should take a backseat to compassionate listening.
Even well-meaning, compassionate advice doesn’t come across that way in the moment. For instance, who doesn’t know to call a professional if you need to find an important document lost in the black hole of your computer? It brings up “Does he think I’m an idiot?”; “Doesn’t she know me better than that?”; “Seriously?” It can feel like salt rubbed in the wound.
Compassionate words, listening and offering understanding such as, “I’m so sorry to hear that”; “You can make it even better next time!” offers the suffering friend support and encouragement. It has been said that compassion is the true reason for all healing.
Compassionate listening and empathy asks, “What can I do to help you?” and lets someone cry
on your shoulder without trying to lighten the mood, or quicken the healing. It means being present and allowing, honoring whatever the person is going through.
Ask yourself these questions the next time someone shares a problem with you:
• Have I been asked for advice? If not, just listen.
• Is this person intelligent and competent enough to solve his own problem? Notice your judgments and opinions which might need cleaning up.
• If this were me, what would I want in this moment? The answer is likely compassion.
• Do I feel like I have to give advice? If you are just waiting for a pause in conversation so you can interject your thoughts, ask yourself why your ego needs appeasing.
• Am I focused on what this person is telling me, or how I want to solve her problem? If it’s what you want to say, then re-focus and start listening deeply. If you just listen, you might allow
deeper truths and solutions to rise to the surface and then you’ve become a great listener and facilitator.
While it can be difficult to overcome our habitual patterns of giving advice, let’s stop trying to make ourselves the hero of their story. Greater rewards are had when we ask our egos to take a back seat and focus on the person before us, asking how we can help in a way that works for them.
Terry Chriswell is the publisher of Mile High Natural Awakenings and the author of the soon-to-be-published book, Moving Toward Happy. She can be reached at [email protected]