Getting out of other people’s way

A key part of helping others, is getting out of their way psychologically, so that our needs, narratives and judgements don’t hold them back. Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

A good counsellor makes sure that they don’t get in the client’s way. It’s very easy to get in someone’s way psychologically. We require people to explain too much; we impose our own stories on other people; we judge other people.

In this cafe, there is a father with his children. He is shouting at them. He is shouting to his daughter ‘I asked you to watch the car – are you watching the car?’ He is shouting to his son ‘For God’s sake, please just CHOOSE what you want to eat!’ He is requiring his children to explain too much; he is imposing his own stress on his children; and he is implicitly making judgements about his children.

The effect on others is this: they have to spend time talking our language; they have to spend time living our story; and they have to cope with our judgements along with everything else they are thinking about.

That’s why it’s such a relief to bump into people who don’t require a particular language to be spoken; who don’t require us to participate in a particular narrative; who don’t judge us. We enjoy being with people who ‘get out of our way’ psychologically.

Just for today, I will simply be there for others. I will listen to what they have to say without telling them what to say. I will listen to their story as they see it, without covering it with my own story. I will let them speak without filtering what they say through my own value-judgements.