Are you often tempted to give advice to others or to persuade them to make choices that you think are good for them? It's just way too easy, and tempting, to tell others what they should do, isn't it? It's often far more clear to us what others should do than what path we should take!
But it's a shaky business, sometimes even dangerous—to mess in the lives of others, even those you love dearly. Mind you, that's different if we're talking about your children.
The other day someone quoted writer Marilyn Ferguson in words that really resonated with me and stood as a warning to me, too, to let others follow their own paths. Here's her quote: "Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be unlocked from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal." Definitely.
Even in my coaching, I'm more likely to help you discover your own wisdom and come to your own conclusions. I try to ask questions that will help you get beneath the issue and perhaps see things in a new way. Sometimes I turn your ideas upside down just so you can try on new views and new ideas and find more clarity within yourself. It helps to think of the problem in a new way sometimes. You are the one who can open your own gate, who must live with the consequences of whatever decision you make.
I've heard this sentiment put in other words, too. For example, one woman told a group I was in, "We do best to keep our dipper out of the buckets of others." Of course, this doesn't mean we don't listen when loved ones need to discuss a decision. It doesn't mean we don't share what worked for us—though what works for me doesn't necessarily work for you. If asked by a friend, "What would you do if this were your decision?" we surely can respond. But we do well to always make clear that this is simply our opinion. We help best when we listen and encourage—encourage others to dig deeply inside and seek their own best wisdom.