When giving advice, we naturally hope to offer a clear way to alleviate another's suffering.
Certainly there are times when others need and welcome our practical support.
However, generally speaking, in cases of emotional distress, 'advice giving' may lead to communication blocks if we don't proceed with caution. More often what others' need from us when they're experiencing emotional distress are: our loving presence, understanding, and listening ear. If we rush to offer advice, instead of feeling supported and cared for, others may experience a lack of validation and a sense of emotional disconnection.
When we consider the number of factors that come together to create our inner experience: our circumstances, our inner values, attitudes, perceptions, dreams; and also consider the infinite number of responses and choices we can choose from—‘imposing’ one dominant solution, which is often presented as the ‘ideal’ seems to, instead of empowering, hint at a hierarchical mindset and hierarchical view of a relationship.
It can be very challenging to open ourselves to hearing unfamiliar perspectives and to extend ourselves emotionally to experience/understand the world through somebody else's eyes. To spend enough time sitting with the fertile darkness and uncertainty of not knowing what to do, amidst someone else’s suffering.
While many times advice can come from a loving place of longing to be of service;
At other times it may reinforce someone’s perception of dominance, and be a defense against the vulnerability and effort of being open to hearing something that does not neatly fit with their own constructs.
Even in cases of practical support sensitivity is needed, as we may be tempted to hurriedly jump-in in a rescue mode and unwillingly disempower another by taking on a parental attitude towards them. Striving for emotional understanding and checking with another as to what support would be of most value to them are great starting points.
"Since true listening involves a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the others. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will feel less and less vulnerable, and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the dance of love is begun again." M. Scott Peck