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You resist what you hear but believe what you say. If you create a solution yourself, then you are more likely to own it. If we own it, we are more apt to act on it than when we are told what to do. The best journeys come from deciding on the destination ourselves.

Why is that so hard to hear? Because it places the responsibility on each and everyone’s shoulders. No one else can fix our stuff. We want to find a shortcut so we don’t have to dwell on our own journeys. And it’s hard because we want to be part of the solution for someone. We believe it will get them there quicker and, let’s face it, there’s a little ego pay off for us too. It gives us a role, a sense of certainty in an uncertain dynamic. And we all love a sense of certainty.

But in truth, we wade in most when we are struggling with watching someone else’s journey, not when we think we have the best answers. There are plenty of turbulent circumstances around us each day into which we could impart what we perceive as wisdom, but we don’t. There are plenty of minor instances of stories and anecdotes in which we spot restriction and self-sabotage, but we rarely call them. We tend to step in when we hear the same dialogue (or monologue) each day; when the stresses of the other encroach on our daily thinking; when the raw emotion of the other starts to imbue our own daily energies. We get involved when their journey becomes a part of ours.

But in truth, they are two very separate learnings. Theirs is their own journey. Ours is learning not to absorb others’ burdens as our own. It doesn’t mean being less compassionate or supportive. It does mean not extending the suffering into our existence too. To be a good friend, we do not use the word ‘sponge’, we use the word ‘rock’. To be a good friend, we need to hold strong in ourselves, not be blown around by the same gale force winds as the other. We have to be able to protect our own grounding, sense of home. It doesn’t mean being shut or closed. In actual fact, the opposite of uncertainty (as I was reminded today) is not certainty, it’s openness: the confidence to see all that there is and know how to pick your way through it, eyes wide open.

So as that person struggles to find their feet, their path, their soul, offering them a solution is easier for you but neither of you are learning. Instead, hear your own solution to how you are handling it and empower them to do the same. Offer not facts but questions that allow them to spot the holding patterns. Ask them to envisage life if nothing changes and if all changes. Only they can step forward and you can’t grab their feet and do it for them. So tend to your own and lead by example.

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