The vulnerability of giving advice
In my work with groups, I see people that finally open up after years of bottled up emotions inside. They share with the group what is going on for them; however, they don’t feel they need to receive advice. It’s actually just the opposite; they just want to be heard.
Consequently, other people in the group may become defensive, as their advice is not accepted with the appreciation they think they deserve! And a whole lot of new issues and complications arise…
It is in our nature as humans to offer advice and opinion on what someone should or shouldn’t do. This is just a human instinct to say to someone who seemed to be troubled what he or she should do about it! However, we need to remind ourselves that sharing emotions and experiences is sometimes all that person really needs. To be heard and listened to in a non-judgmental manner is the heart of the art of true listening.
We are the experts of our own lives only!
In the art therapy workshops, the making of the art brings to the surface emotions and feelings that are sometimes hard to manage but it helps to explore the meanings in people’s lives as they come forth in an artistic process. As an art therapist I have to remind myself not to interpret the clients work but to accompany them in their journey and help them find their own meanings in the process.
Just like giving advice… walk along the person and support them by really listening with an open mind. So next time, a friend, a partner or a colleague share with you concerns and feelings, don’t worry about telling them what they need to do, just remind yourself that empathic listening, open-mind and non judgmental are qualities that can go long way.