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Help People See Their Options

In my article, 11 Spiritual Truths You May Want to Remember, I listed 11 short spiritual truths. It received a very positive reaction, but some people wanted a little more information about what I meant. So I’m going to take each spiritual truth I listed and expand on it, each in its own article over the next 11 weeks.

Spiritual Truth #1: Everyone’s path is different. Don’t assume you know how people should walk their paths. You don’t. Instead of advice, help people see their options.

As we all know, our experiences in life are unique to ourselves. No one else has been where you’ve been, done what you’ve done, thought what you’ve thought, or seen what you’ve seen.

When someone comes to you with a problem or when you see someone struggling, it’s natural to want to help them in some way. Often the help we give people is based on what we would do if we were in their situation.

Have you ever had someone tell you about a problem and you instantly knew how to solve it? Well that solution might work really well for you, but it may not be possible, practical or feasible for them. They may not have the strength or resources to do what you would do. They may not be in the right frame of mind.

It’s important not to judge people. Their problem might be super simple for you to solve, but might be extremely difficult for them. Not to mention that spiritually they may need this problem to learn something valuable.

What I’ve learned is that the best way to help someone is to help them sort through their options. Help them see what paths lie open for them. Help them analyze their problem, help them get clarity, and help them see what possibilities exist to solve it.

The next time someone comes to you with a problem, try not to solve it for them. Don’t give them advice or tell them what to do. Instead ask them the following questions:

1. What sort of outcome would feel good for you?
2. What resources do you have at your disposal that could help you with this?
3. Have you ever made progress on this problem, and if so, what did that progress look like?
4. How would you like to feel about this?
5. What could you do today that would help you make positive progress on this situation?
6. What are your options as you see them?
7. What else could be an option if things were just a little different?
8. What will happen if you don’t make progress on this situation?
9. Is there anything I can do to assist you?
10. How can I support you on this path?
11. If you defined your problem a little differently, might that help you see a way through to a solution?

When you tell someone what they should do, you disempower them. Their problem exists because of the path they took, and they’ve got to learn how to find new paths from where they are, not where you are.

To empower someone, help them sort through their thoughts, ideas, and the actions they could take. Let them decide for themselves how they will solve their problem. You can be supportive, you can be kind, you can even be a resource for them, but don’t carry them on your back, rescuing and saving them, or they’ll never learn how to walk their own maze.

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