Empathy AND advice
I just wanted to share a very interesting observation that occurred to me recently and that is the idea of the equal importance of empathy and advice. Having a natural inclination towards empathy and feeling the importance of compassion, I have often felt that somehow empathy was more important than receiving 'unsolicited advice'. It is especially true when one sees the often over -generalised notion that women somehow will listen and be empathic, whereas men will tend to give advice. When I have been to see a therapist to confide in a problem, more often than not the therapist hurried me along and I felt uncomfortable expressing my feelings as the therapist really wanted to focus on an 'action' plan to 'fix' things. I was left feeling unvalidated and unable to 'vent' my emotions, and we all know how 'venting' can free one up of unhealthy feelings of anger , resentment or prolonged sadness. How interesting to have the opposite experience! I trained with an emergency telephone help line and the emphasis was on listening ONLY and never to offer any advise and to reflect back what the caller had said so that they could feel validated and come to their own decisions in the process of 'thinking out loud'. Carl Rogers was also a wonderful example as he would provide 'unconditional positive regard' to whatever a client would think or feel. Well I recently was involved in an important court case and I underplayed my feelings and just listened to advice. I felt that my emotional view would not be helpful when communicating with a very practical, no nonsense lawyer. The advice I was given was amazing and I really had to take a step back and see if I could incorporate such a 'foreign 'view into my mind's template. I then realised that this was just one view and that it would be extremely beneficial to gather other's views and advice in order to make the final decision on my own. Needless to say I sought advice, and I think that is why so many people turn to "gurus' or seek out mentors. Without other's guidance we may not have the creativity or insight to come to realisations on our own. We need empathic health care professionals, confidantes AND professional advisors for a multifaceted approach to the complexity of living and loving in this world.