I’ve just come back from an incredible weekend away with my husband. We both have facilitation and people-development backgrounds so once a year we try to get away to spend a weekend on our own self-development. It’s always an invigorating experience.The beauty of going away with your partner who loves doing the same self-analysis that you love is that you get to explore your inner thoughts in a very safe and loving environment (and with your slippers still on your feet!). You get a chance to speak and share when you want to, and you get acceptance of all you have to say with ears that are keen to listen. In short, we leave our egos at the door and just let the thoughts and feelings flow.

It is magical.

It helps me to grow as a person.

When I leave my ego behind I am better able to truly get in touch with what I need to be a better human, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.

Heading away can be invigoratingPerhaps one of the things I love the most about these weekends is that neither of us are looking for advice. We don’t want to be helped, we just want to be heard. There’s a big difference. The greatest gift we can give one another is trust and acceptance. Trust that we each have the ability to find our way (even if it takes time!) and acceptance¬† that everything is as it is supposed to be at this point in time (even if it feels uncomfortable).

The risk in giving unsolicited advice is that you are silently telling someone you don’t think they’re capable of managing without your guidance.

The power of time together like this is that we get a chance to share stories. In some ways, our stories help us to learn from each other. So instead of saying “I think you should…” or “Have you thought about doing…” or “If it were me, I’d …” we choose to communicate a message that says;

You are a smart person and I trust you will work it out in time. I know it will be ok in the end.

This keeps the love unconditional. Unconditional love keeps communication open and happenning. Giving advice (especially when it wasn’t asked for!) reinforces underlying messages that say:

  • I’m smarter than you because I have found the solution.
  • I need to do the thinking for you.
  • Don’t bother having the experience, just learn from mine instead.
  • You’re not capable of fixing this yourself.
  • You’re not good enough.

Unsolicited advice is ego driven. It can make us feel good because we can assert our value to others by the words we speak. It’s dangerous though because it can incite arguments, put conditions on relationships and close down dialogue if the other person feels they cannot live up to the advice. Worse still, advice like this shifts the attention away from the person with the dilemma and on to the person who wants to fix it. What a shame. I don’t think advice keeps us connected in this world.

In the framework of our weekend away it was easy to just listen without advising. However, when we return home and a friend has a problem, or a son has a challenge it’s almost impossible to simply trust the moment! Every fibre in my body wants to add my two cents worth and make suggestions! However, I think it’s much more empowering for my boys (for example) to hear that I trust their judgement than to have me tell them how they need to fix the situation. After all, I won’t be there for every instance they struggle and it’s nice to think they’ll be able to cope without my input.

I’m far from an expert in this. In many ways, after hearing years of advice from others I’ve only just come to realise how debilitating it can be at times. So, from today I’m trying to bite my tongue and resist the urge to tell others what they should be doing. Of course, sharing stories is a different matter…