The Secret to Giving Advice

We have this innate pressure from within to try and fix everything. As if we always have the answers on how to heal other people’s pain and misery.

We sit across from them spewing out words of advice trying to nudge them towards the light. To begin their trek towards happiness once again.

Maybe it’s not what we intend to do, but sitting their knowing they are in a dark place, there might be a void. A space of stillness and silence. Not knowing what to do we try and fill it.

So we do our best to make assumptions on what they are going through. We make assumptions on how they feel, on what they see when looking through their lens, on what their ego and head chatter is telling them.

We look at them and see that they look like they are doing fine. Because of how they appear on the outside we try and convince them of this, not realizing that their outer world and inner worlds have lost connection to one another.

Giving advice, when advice isn’t really what they’re seeking, reminds them of their pain. Conjuring words in hopes to make them feel better only deepens their despair.

The space between their inner self and their outer self widens. They find themselves drifting further away from their truth and darkness begins to fall harder.

When we give advice, we tend to stroke our own ego and put on our blinders. Tweet this

We hear them, but we aren’t listening. What we’re really doing is thinking about an answer to give to them to fulfill this desire of ours, or rather what the ego is craving, for wanting to “save the day”.

The best advice.

The truth of the matter is, sometimes, the best advice to give is giving no advice at all, or simply just listening. Tweet this

Allow that void of silence, or space within one another’s presence, to just be. To do nothing other than be part of eachother’s presence.

Surrender yourself to them in allowing their feelings to pour. Right, wrong, or indifferent, they seek to find the key to the vault that has their feelings trapped, leaving them in despair. Silence, listening, resisting to fill the void on your part is what holds the key.

I find myself doing the exact opposite of this.

I instead try and fill the void. Why? Because I want to give advice. I want to be the one to have helped fix the situation. I want the other person to say, “you know, you’re right.”

Lately, I’ve become more intentional in recognizing this pattern before it’s too late. Noticing myself give advice while not listening. I try and reel myself back in, to focus on the other person, listening wholeheartedly. Not filling the void, instead, offering my presence.

Sometimes they seek advice, so then we can give it. But not necessarily in the giving manner, but rather, through guidance. By asking them questions to help them explore their darkness and begin to crack the exterior of their truth.

Most times, however, they seek your presence. To listen to their emotional dumpings.

Listening wholeheartedly and just being there is the remedy most people seek, without knowing that’s what their seeking.

The next time you find yourself with a friend or family member going through a hard time, give not your advice, but your presence. Listen to them and the silence that sits between the both of you. Just be there.

One of the hardest things we must do sometimes is to be present to an other person’s pain without trying to “fix” it, to simply stand respectfully at the edge of that person’s mystery and misery. — Parker Palmer

I leave you with a message from Brene Brown

Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.

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