Do you Get Tired Offering Solutions To People?

I sure do. 

A friend comes to you complaining about something, venting his frustrations out,  feeling hopeless and desperate. You step in, give him some perspective and suggest something  that might work. He nods and finally gets it, saying, “You’re right. I should do that. Thanks, pal!”.

Weeks passed, you check in to see how he’s doing. Same old, same old, and surprisingly you hear new complaints too, coupled with excuses why he never acted on the things you talked about.

I get frustrated of course. It’s like handing a bottle of milk to a thirsty toddler. He only needs to put it in his mouth and drink it up for the thirst to go away. What happens instead is he keeps on staring at the bottle of milk and continue crying.  

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will Disappear.

Lao Tzu

Reflecting on my behavior, I’ve seen how this is apparent to me too, personally. 

How oftentimes do we realize that the solution to our predicament is obvious but we don’t take action? I can think of a couple of reasons why.

The pain is not painful enough that we are not yet over desperate to fix it.

Admittedly, like our pets, we like to lick our wounds. We don’t budge, nor move until it hurts too much or we’re kicked out of the door.  No wonder why we stay on a job we hate until we get fired. We stay in toxic relationships until the abuse sends us to a hospital or worse, we end up wandering the streets of who-knows-where.  Complaining is easy. Work is hard. This leads to the second point.

We prefer the current pain over the pain of working to fix it.

This preference though is buried deep in our subconscious. We forget that “something’s gotta give” every time. There are trade-offs in life. Choosing one means we cannot choose the other. In this case, it’s either you want this pain or that pain.

The other day, somebody came to me complaining about someone but fears confronting this person. So I said, “Look, you only have two options here. Either you tell this guy what your issues are and risk him feeling hurt, or you keep it civil between you two but keep your frustrations to yourself.” 

We always have options. We can always work out solutions. We can always find answers. The question is, “What do we do with the answers we get? Do we stand by and just stare at these solutions? What choice do we make?

We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Mark Twain

There’s never a perfect time to do anything. The world won’t give you that. How many doors have closed in on you just because you waited for the perfect wind to carry you through, or the perfect soundtrack to play in the background as you walk along?  The door is never going to stay open for long. So I’m not sure what you’re still waiting for.

What I tell you, I’m telling myself too. We are a work in progress and I believe it’s good that we remind each other when we need to.  So take this as a reminder. 

And yes, lesson learned:

Don’t offer solutions to people’s problems. The real fix is always within themselves. You just have to help them uncover it.

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