What Do You Need: Advice or Understanding??
When confronted with difficult situations, we often seek help from another person. That's pretty natural; when we are in the midst of fear, uncertainty or doubt we feel the expert knowledge of another person would be just what we need to change the situation. The difficulty is that even with this advice things don't change. How can we know if we need advice or understanding, and how do we get it from others?
Often we hope that that the other person will be able to give us some new information that we don't already know to help us understand the situation better. We reason that there are experts out there, and that talking to them will allow their knowledge to pass onto us, and then we will be relieved of our difficulties. In thinking like this, we see our problems as a lack of knowledge; with the right knowledge we will be free to fix the problem and move on.
We actually know enough
However, often the thing that holds us back is not lack of knowledge. Even though we may not have perfect knowledge, the knowledge that we have – or can easily obtain – is usually good enough to make most decisions that we face. In many cases, the real difficulty that we have is in taking action. Even with the right knowledge, we sometimes find it impossible to take the action we need to in order to have things different. Sometimes we can be so paralysed by the things we know we have to do, but can't do, that it can be easier to see our problem as a lack of knowledge.
So if our real difficulty is in action, then finding support that helps us do things better is likely to be really useful help. This is where understanding comes in. When we feel really well understood, we can find it an immense source of strength for us. Suddenly our problems don't seem ours alone, nor do they seem abnormal or freakish anymore. Rather they can seem like a natural extension of the way our life is. When we feel this, we don't need much advice; we are much more able to handle doing the things which are necessary to allow us to get on with our lives.
This is the approach I take as a psychotherapist – that you are a person who has most of what you need to solve your own problems, but to actually solve them you need to work with someone who takes the time to understand.
– Tim Hill
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