“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” ~Cicero
Since I write about overcoming adversity, I receive a lot of emails and blog comments from readers seeking advice.
When I first started this site, I promised myself I’d never tell readers not to email seeking feedback. I’d seen this type of disclaimer on other blogs, and I decided I wanted to do things differently.
I wanted to be approachable and helpful—to offer guidance as best I could, as time allowed. After all, that’s why I do this—not to talk at people, but to make friends and be a friend.
Earlier this year, a blog post I’d written about dealing with break-ups passed the 300 mark for comments—all from readers who were hurting over their former relationships and looking for guidance and relief.
In seeing so much immense pain, I started feeling powerless to really make a difference—like I wasn’t qualified to tell so many people what they should do.
One day something occurred to me: Often when I turn to someone for advice, I’m not really looking for answers. I’m simply looking to be heard. When I do receive answers, I’m not always able to utilize them.
No matter how many times others tell us what we should think or do, we’re not fully able to follow their advice unless we’ve formed our own insights.
All the shared wisdom in the world can’t compare to one genuine epiphany.
So I’ve changed my approach a little, when it comes to emails and comments from readers seeking advice.
If I have an idea that might be helpful, I put that out there—but for the most part, I answer questions with more questions to help them form their own conclusions.
The reality is that I am no wiser than them; I just happen to publicize the things I observe and learn on a given day. And much like them, I sometimes need a little help accessing the answers within.
Maybe that’s what it means to really help people—to help them help themselves.
None of us has it all figured out, and maybe we never will.
Acknowledging this, to me, is the difference being having followers and friends. With followers, you lead the way. With friends, you support them in discovering it for themselves.
Photo by ronsaunders47