As a life coach, I don't see myself as the expert on anyone else's life. I am there to listen, ask questions, suggest alternative views, perhaps turn a few things upside down to spur creativity, suggest resources and activities, but mostly to help clients access their own wisdom and answers—and help them set actionable goals.
That said, however, I have long been one of those people to whom family and friends have come to talk and sometimes seek advice. While that fact played a huge part in my decision to take training and get certified as a life coach, it can also be a danger: I don't want to ever start believing that I'm an expert in anyone's life but my own. If I ever get to the point where I think I am or where I focus entirely on the issues of others rather than my own, I'm in big trouble. It's an important boundary for me as a life coach.
It's also an important boundary for each of us as humans who walk together with others in relationship. In her book The Dance of Intimacy, Harriet Goldhor Lerner says as much when she writes that an attitude of "'I-know-what's-best-for-you' precludes the possibility of intimacy and makes it much harder for other persons to assume responsibility for solving their own problems and managing their own pain."
She reminds us that "as we become less of an expert on the other, we become more of an expert on the self." And as we know, the only person we can even hope to change is our self ... and that's not always a walk in the park! It's good to remember to mind our own business ... even when we're walking alongside each other in tough times.