It is hard to listen sometimes. It is hard not to fix the problem. Easier to offer a solution. Tell 'em what they oughta do.
I'm having coffee with a friend the other day. Our house had been broken into while on vacation and we lost an ancient TV, a nice Bose system, and a bag of currency from all the countries I have visited. Not a great loss, but still a loss. I was sharing how it felt... anger, sadness.
"You need to get an alarm system."
"And, you should add the stolen currency to the police report."
"Actually, you should just get someone to housesit when you are away."
"You live on a busy street. You should get those lights that turn on automatically."
"You should have left on more lights. I would have left more lights on."
Finally, I noticed what was happening and I said... "you know, you'd make a lousy coach."
And, he stopped, looking a little sheepish.
"Yeah, I'd be mad too," he said trying to pull out of his Mr. Fix-It Man role and hear my emotion.
So, it's one thing to hear the emotion that I was expressing. That felt good. But I also noticed that the question I wanted him to ask was... "what's your plan?" Because, that would have been a good question! And, it would have invited me to move through the emotion I was expressing and into a forward-looking posture. "What's next?" is almost always helpful once the emotion of the moment has dissipated.
Of course I would have said, "I don't know!" because I don't have a plan. What I want though is to explore my thoughts and fears around home security and to put aside all the voices of others so that I can discover what I want. Because that's where my life will be lived!
My Dad used to say "Don't should on me." I guess the old man had something there.