Entries in encourage (2)



A better question might be if giving advice is ever helpful. Now that might sound radical and yet in my experience with a few thousand people I have never noted that advice was helpful to anyone nor actually accepted by anyone. If it seems to be that people seek advice and then reject it. What is that about? Also, if the above is true then what about my attempts to help people? Am I not at least fairly frequently giving advice and then are my patients also frequently rejecting my advice?  

I have seen repeatedly in my treatment of people that it is critical that they decide what to do and then take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Can advice help that? Since advice is so frequently rejected it seems that advice does not help. There seems to be a wish for advice and for answers to problems and for solutions to problems with others and yet this does not seem to be helpful. When we give advice what message is that sending? It seems to be received as a lack of faith in the person's ability to problem solve for themselves and manage their lives. This may not be an intended message and yet giving advice does not seem to reinforce their being able to problem solve for themselves and to take reponsibility for themselves. Of course, the intention of the advice giver might be to have their advice help the person to start being more responsible for themselves and to take responsibility for their lives. Yet, I have never seen advice giving be helpful for either party as it risks separating the advice giver and receiver. This separation may be related to the stress for the advice giver who feels responsible for the advice receiver [which is the reason that advice was given] and need that the receiver has to be responsible for themselves. This appears to be a basic need and the receiver will likely feel that the advice giver does not have faith in the receiver's ability to manage for themselves. 

So what is the alternative? It is to encourage and support the person you are tempted to give advice to. What is encouragement and support? It requires listening without our own reactions and thus allowing ourselves to see the strength in the other and then share this with them. Listening by itself is supportive as we are with others and therefore are supporting them when we are listening. The support is emotional support and often does not require any words. This encouragement and support is what I try to do with my patients as I listen and have an opportunity to reflect back what I have heard and to encourage them to trust themselves and see what happens.

Does any of this make any sense?



When I was looking at the acknowledgments at the beginning of a book by Kate DiCamillo called The Tiger Rising, I noticed that the acknowledgments ended with thanking a specific person for "believing that I could and that I can. And that I will." I rarely look at this section of a book but I did this time and really only at the end that I have quoted above.  Who knows why?  However, I believe that this is one way of talking about or describing what being supportive and encouraging is.

This is important to me because when I am helping my patients to stop feeling and acting responsible for others, they need to have something that they can replace that with. I believe that being encouraging and supportive is a good way to interact with others. However, defining it has been difficult for me. That is why I was encouraged when I saw what Kate DiCamillo had written in her acknowledgments. So, is believing in someone part of being encouraging and supportive?  I think it is and I have focused on people seeing the strengths in others and communicating this to them as a way of being supportive and encouraging. This does not involve giving advice, making suggestions or taking on responsibility for the other person. Often people that we want to help are not feeling confident, nor recognizing their strengths and abilities.  That is why it is important to recognize the strengths of people we care about and also why it is so very important to not undermine their confidence by giving advice or taking over for them.

I have repeatedly seen that it is critical to not take over for others as this undermines their confidence and is not kind or caring or loving. Now, if someone is used to being dependent on others to do for them and people start expecting them to manage for themselves, they may react negatively at first.  Their reaction indicates that they have a beginning awareness of their need to take responsibility for themselves. So, if you are encouraging and supporting others, they may get mad at you.  This is a good thing as it means that they are more likely to change and start taking responsibility for themselves.  What do you think?