Do you ever get stuck in a funk of feeling unappreciated or ignored? Does it sometimes happen to you that people want to tell you there problems, but not listen to your solutions? That should not come as a surprise, because most people who tell you their problems are not really looking for your opinion as to how they can make their situation better. Most are just looking for some level of understanding that they are dealing with a situation that they find frustrating or difficult. So instead of offering them some sort of practical solution, a better response would be to say something along the lines of “wow that is a challenge. I hope you work it out.”
You are naturally a problem solving type of person, and it can be difficult for you when people do not want your advice. It may sound to you like people are complaining about situations without really wanting to improve them. A lot of the time, it might seem to you that they are dealing with the same basic pattern over and over again, and falling into the same traps of ineffective responses. Maybe it seems clear to you how they could improve their situation. But the hard to understand truth, is they really don’t want to hear about that. What they really want is to talk about their situation to someone who will listen, and if you are the one who is listening, the best you can do is lend a kind ear and hear them out. You are not going to fix anything for someone who does not want a solution.
This is an important lesson for your new voice, the voice that was born again on Easter. In the past, you have always thought that the value of your knowledge was to share it and help people to move forward in their lives. This was especially true for you as a father, because you raised four sons, and it was in many circumstances, up to you to guide them. But your sons are not children anymore, so now it’s time to respect their independence and let them figure things out on their own.
But sometimes something special might happen. Sometimes, if you let someone struggle with their situation long enough, they might grow tired and actually seek advice. This is a process that you need to let happen. It is the real life experience of trying over and over that will eventually either lead to a solution that they find on their own, which is best, or lead them to seeking advice.
But the key for you is to not want to give the advice. There is some part of you, that is in your ego, that wants people to listen to you. That wants people to do as you suggest and that wants them to follow your advice and then be successful. You see that in yourself do you not? After all, if you give someone advice, and then they follow it, and become successful, then some measure of their success can be credited to your smart idea. You can see how you can become attached to people doing as you suggest and then become attached to the outcome of their venture. This is the source of a lot of entanglement on your part in the affairs of other people, and this is likely as not to end badly. And when it does, if you imposed your advice, it is not credit that you will receive, but blame.
This can even be in very minor situations, like when you suggest a move to an opponent in a backgammon board. If they go on to win, then you have robbed them of some measure of their success, and if the move goes bad, then you are responsible for the bad outcome. They have a hymn for that. It says “You should not give advice to people who do not want to listen”. This is not a negative statement. The hymn goes on “to you we give this instruction, leave them be!”
It is important in learning to use your new voice that you learn not to use it, and to not use it happily. Sometimes you say “fine I’ll just shut up if nobody wants to listen to me.” There is a little bit of a hurt tone underneath this, like you are going to go pout in a corner and say “nobody wants to listen to me.” Well you are just exaggerating when you say that, because it’s not “nobody” that wants to listen to YOU, it’s simply that most people want to figure out things for themselves, and that YOU are really no kind of master. So take your refuge in humility.
Don’t you remember that clear instruction that you have received so many times over and over? Humility is a refuge not a personality trait. When you have hurt feelings because people do not recognize you as wise or smart or knowledgeable, and you take that personally, you are looking for affirmation from other people that you possess these characteristics, when you yourself should know perfectly well what you know and what you do not know. And you, being as you are, fully incorporated in this world, are no better than a fish in a fishbowl. Perhaps you are a very smart fish, but you are still in the fishbowl and have extremely limited perspective. You do not know what is going on in someone else’s head. You do not know what is going on in their lives or what challenges they are facing. So to you, a piece of advise might seem obvious or helpful, but really you might simply bet telling a fish how to go about climbing a tree.
Remember A Course in Miracles. Remember The Manual for Teachers. Remember that it is up to God to bring teaching and learning together, and that all teachers learn exactly what they teach. So if you are blessed with a teaching situation, do not forget that it is you who are the student. You are never superior to anybody. Any lesson you have to offer to even the smallest child is a lesson you really should heed yourself.
Do you remember that T-shirt that you were shown a long time ago that a man was wearing in Coconut Grove…. it said in big letters “Always Lead, Never Follow.” You laughed when you saw that and you thought “does that apply when you are with a group of people in a city that you have never been in before? Does that mean that you should lead and not follow even when you have no idea where you are or where you should be going?” Well that’s the case in most people’s personal problems.
First off, they are only telling you what they want you to hear. They are likely only telling you the part that will provoke the response that they desire from you. One such response might be for you to think highly of them. Another might be that they want you to feel sorry for them. Another might be that they want you to tell them that they are perfectly justified. Another might be that they simply want to feel loved. But it does not matter, because you are only seeing a part of the picture, and then that small part is interpreted by you according to your reactions, experiences and desires. So you are seeing a small portion of the truth through distorted glasses and then you are going to offer advice on how to proceed? It is just like that patently ridiculous T-shirt telling you to always lead and never follow.
You see, if ever there were a strange city that you do not know your way around in, it is someone else’s psyche. The inside of someone else’s experience is no place for you to be a leader. So what can you do? You can offer your experience perhaps. Like in backgammon, don’t ever tell somebody what they should do even if you think they would benefit from your advise. If they ask you for your advice, then you can tell them what you would do if you were in their position, and then let them decide what they want to do. Do you see the difference in the energy there? It’s not about what they “should do.” It’s up to them to decide that. All you can say is based on your understanding of the situation, this is what you would do.
Backgammon is a light example, but sometimes you are talking about people’s finances, and you can get yourself into some trouble if you start telling people how they should invest their money. You have no idea what their true appetite for risk is. You have no idea what they will do when they have an emotional response to market turmoil. And you have no ability to direct their actions in the future. So, instead of telling them what they should do, be careful to offer what you would do based on your understanding of the situation. Let them be the one to take responsibility for their decisions, and then they will be responsible for the results.
But the best advice for you is this. Do not be attached. It is not for you to seek to be large. It is not for you to seek a following. It is not for you to publish a book telling other people what they should do to have a happy life. The spotlight is not there for you. What is there for you is a path by which you may learn to lead a good and happy life for you and your family. The people who come into your life are there to teach you what you need to learn. It’s not the other way around.
So that is a key lesson for you with your new voice. The power of your new voice is not to tell others what to do. The power of your new voice is to speak with humility and learn what it is for you to learn.