CLIPPING #52 — Presence VS Advice

In his column, The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice, Parker J. Palmer wrote: “Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good.”

Parker speaks from his experience with clinical depression. “The people who tried to support me had good intentions. But, for the most part, what they did left me feeling more depressed.” Some advised fresh air and sunshine to be reminded of beauty. Others tried to spruce up his self-image by sharing compliments but they made him feel worse because he didn’t feel he deserved the compliments.

Parker views the human soul needing, “less to be advised or fixed and more to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. … Our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources.” Witnessing and companioning take time and patience and even anxiety being in the presence of suffering. “We want to apply our “fix,” then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to “save” the other person.”

During his depression, the one friend that truly helped came by every afternoon and, with few words, massaged Parker’s feet. It was a healing presence.

Have you experienced healing presence? If so, what was it like? Have you offered your healing presence to others? How did you do that? What happened?


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