Tips and Advice

Tips-and-advice.docx-246x300…“You just have to let it go!”…
…“I know someone, she had the same problems and she went to x and y. After that all her problems were solved, you’re crazy if you don’t give it a chance!”…
…“You just have to be more relaxed; then your kids will also be more relaxed!”…
…“No wonder you’re out of energy, you hardly ever move, you just have to do something like running. You’ll feel much better! And by the way: you’d better stop eating carbohydrates ! I did that and I feel way better!”…

Do you recognize this? Giving this kind of advice? Or getting it?
And if you received it, did it make you feel any better?

Last week, coaching one of my coachees, I realized this again. This was somebody wrestling with health problems, therefore getting a bazillion well-intentioned tips and advices. At the schoolyard, at family meetings, meetings with neighbors, friends…everywhere people told her what she should or should not do.
She became desperate. At first of being ill, with no signs of improvement and then with the cacophony of all these tips.

However, somebody who suffers almost always lives with a little bit of hope for some modest miracle. This hope is fed by these well-meant tips. This woman followed some of the tips, against al rationality, but of course none of them brought the hoped for magical solution. That is why these tips are miserable!

As a tipster you don’t realize you’re feeding the hope of someone. And accordingly you don’t realize the trouble of this person to accept again the difficult situation he or she is in. You want to help, maybe desperately so, but your advice actually has the opposite effect: someone already feels uncertain and the tips cause more feelings of uncertainty.

Why do we give tips and advices?
Because it’s difficult to feel powerless and because it is nice to “be the one that knows what te do.”
We live in a the time where everything that happens to you is considered your own responsibility. Mishap and mayhem is not just bad luck, no it is something you have called off on yourself; it is a lesson, a possibility to develop, to grow. You have to fight diseases and win the battle from cancer for instance. You have to be the perfect relaxed parent, having a difficult teenager is all attributable to your inability to set boundaries.
Everything can be influenced by yourself, bad luck is for losers. Even grieving is something you should do “well”. If you don’t cry at the funeral, you are suppressing your emotions and when you are still grieving after two years, you can’t let go of the past…

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What can you do?
If you really want to help somebody, suppress your urge to advice. Acknowledge the pain, the grief, the despair and recognize that it is difficult to live with something that is indigestible. Recognize your own pain in seeing your friend, your child or your parent suffering without being able to lift the burden for them.
Tell her that you don’t know how you can help, but that you will be close. Bring some soup, do some groceries, offer a shoulder to cry on. Support by just being there. And later on, take her for a walk, to a play or to the movies. That’s what friends are for…