The process is the solution

When someone you love is in distress, it is natural to try to fix the problem as soon as possible. Finding a pathway to a solution seems like the fastest way to soothe someone who is upset. That may involve giving advice for what your loved one should do next, exploring steps toward the desired outcome and discussing how to take those steps in the most immediate and effective way possible. However, this ‘solution-oriented’ discussion may actually interfere with what your loved one really needs, which is your understanding and support. There is a tremendous amount of emotional soothing and mental strength that you can provide people by simply focusing on the process instead of the outcome. Focusing on the process means that your primary goal is to understand and join with your loved one where they are emotionally and experientially in that moment, instead of rushing them into the “all better” state. When we rush toward a solution, we overlook the value of the other person’s feelings–but feelings are really a gateway into who we are as people, they are guideposts to our inner selves. When someone is having strong feelings and you are able to simply join them in that feeling, witness and process those emotions with them, you are actually on the pathway toward understanding and really identifying with that person’s inner world. This establishes trust, connection and soothing in a way that no logical answer or practical plan ever could. So the next time someone you love is having a problem or is upset, try to be in the process more and in the solution less. You will likely find that this generates intimacy, and in the end, that closeness is what we really need most.


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