Thursday, May 29, 2014

Witnessing vs. fixing

One of my closest friends has a husband in serious health decline. He's been debilitated for some years now and she has been an active caregiver all of her retirement. She has a lot of friends and they're good about staying in touch and they all ask how her husband is doing and when she reports on it, they give her advice.

In our money program support group, we're asked to practice witnessing. Witnessing the celebrations of group members as they move towards their goals, witnessing their challenges and setbacks, witnessing their commitments. We've taken a pledge not to offer advice unless it's specifically asked for, including not making suggestions veiled as questions: "Have you tried...what would happen if..."

Instead, we're encouraged to ask real questions: "Tell me more. How are you doing with that? Is there anything more you'd like to say about that?" And we're encouraged to appreciate the other person's efforts, not fix them.

I'm wondering how all my relationships would be if I witnessed more and advised less.

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