March 8th, 2015

tree wisdom

helping people figure out their desires without taking responsibility for their self-awareness

icon: "tree wisdom (photo of a large tree with roots underwater and trunk reflected in still waters, thick woods behind)"

When I suspect that someone wants something, I usually ask them, "do you want [this thing]?" and it used to be that if they said "I don't know" I would ask more questions to help them figure it out. Somehow within the last month I have stopped doing that second part. I just drop it or tell them "think about it and let me know when you figure it out." I feel like this is good progress for me, since it is vital to me to check in when I think of it (and can) but if they aren't participating enough to figure out their desires when deliberately prompted, then me continuing to poke them more is me taking responsibility for their self-awareness. It feels weird to leave that for them, but really freeing. I didn't realize how much effort it took, or how often I did it. I think somehow I realized that I now am surrounded by people who mostly won't blame me if they don't get what they want from me (when they didn't ask).

I'm happy to help people figure out what they want if they initiate the process* or ask me to do so (if I can), but when I do it otherwise it's usually because I expect them to punish me if I don't anticipate their needs and desires. This isn't an illogical fear, because to most people this is normal and tolerable behavior. But regardless of the logic, I do not want to be motivated by fear, and my risk is the smallest it has ever been. So I really hope that this new lack of fear continues. I think it will, unless I get a string of negative results for not doing that work. But so far no one has scolded me or pouted at me or pulled away from me.

*such as responding to my question about what they want with "I don't know, here are the factors I am weighing, help?"