Often when we are trying to do a kindness for someone it backfires because there is too much of ego in it—too much of self. Trying to be so helpful, we end up blowing it. Many psychotherapy clients have complained to me over the years about the many people who seek to be “helpful” by dispensing off the cuff advice, but doing so without really taking the time to listen and understand the situation fully. Such advice is full of ego—full of the belief that somehow we know more.
Often I have found that I am the most help, both to my clients and friends and family, when I simply try to be present and understand.
One time a friend and I were having dinner. He told me about a certain television story he liked to watch. I didn’t understand what his fascination with that show was, so I asked him what he liked about it. My friend knew that there was no judgment in this, just an effort to understand. The next time we had dinner, he had thought about my question, and realized the show he watched was empty of value. He had stopped watching it.
Just by being present and wanting to understand, I’d helped at least in a small way.