The ability to identify problems and come up with creative solutions are valuable skills.
The skill of identifying and solving problems brings its own problem:
If not kept in check, we can cross the line into looking for problems where none exist. Or offering solutions that are not desired or welcomed.
Have you ever shared a challenge with a friend, and they jumped into offering a solution when you didn’t want one?
Or maybe you wanted advice, but you weren’t yet ready to receive it.
How did that feel for you?
When someone offers to “solve” my problem before I’m ready, I usually feel unheard. I walk away feeling lonely, isolated, and misunderstood.
Or, maybe you’ve been the person on the other side:
Have you ever been the friend who was quick to offer your two cents when it wasn’t requested?
What was the reaction to your advice? How did that feel for you?
I’ve given a lot of unsolicited advice in my time. Sometimes it was harshly rejected and other times it was ignored or dismissed.
I walked away from those interactions feeling shamed and devalued. I felt like my insight and advice had no merit.
The rush to “fix the problem” leaves both parties to the conversation feeling hurt and devalued..
Here’s an important lesson I’ve learned:
Deep listening is the most powerful solution we can offer another person and to ourselves.
When we hold space for ourselves or others we can facilitate deep healing.
This lesson often gets lost in our “fix-it” culture. The habit of trying to fix people or their problems is deeply rooted.
People are not problems to solve.
Every human being with a pulse has moments where they feel “down,” or “negative.” Every self-help “guru,” motivational speaker, meditation master, superstar athlete, Hollywood star, influencer — everyone.
It’s ok not to be ok.
It’s also ok to sit in that “not ok” space for a while before “working on your mindset.”
In fact, it’s often necessary.
That space of “not ok” is often the source of a deep well of wisdom. If you rush to “fix the problem,” you’ll miss the gold.
That said, this isn’t easy.
Learning to sit in the space of our own discomfort is some of the hardest work we get to do in our human experience.
Holding this space for others can sometimes feel even more challenging. It hurts us to see others suffer. It’s human nature to want to fix the problem.
There’s nothing to fix.
The only thing you need to do is hold space. To allow what is there. To do nothing.
hold space for what is
listening is medicine
there’s nothing to fix