Sometimes you feel so low you just want to vent to a bestie. It feels right to hog the spotlight for a minute. It’s probably your turn.
And then the annoying happens: your bestie gives you advice on how to solve the problem.
But you didn’t WANT advice. You just wanted to let it all gush out. So frustrating!
Deep down, each of us just wants to feel SEEN.
Which has me thinking about this thing called “witnessing”. Heard of it? Do you do this already?
I’d never heard of this before until I took one of Terri Cole’s (brilliant!!) courses.
In her facebook group, no one was allowed to give advice. When someone posted their situation, everyone was encouraged to “witness”, instead.
This is where you acknowledge what you see and hear. And you DON’T TRY TO SOLVE ANOTHER PERSON’S PROBLEM FOR THEM.
Whoa. Mind blown.
It’s an extremely validating experience to receive.
When you witness, it’s like you tell someone (mostly through listening) that they matter and their experience was heard. And you’re not about to take that experience away from them. You won’t diminish it, gloss over it, solve it, or tell them to look on the bright side.
You stand testament to their existence and experience.
The good, the bad, and the very ugly.
This is how you witness. You say:
“I see what you mean. When you said you couldn’t come to the event and she kept pushing, you felt completely ignored.”
You re-iterate what you just heard and saw.
You can do it with your kids, too:
“I hear what you’re saying. You wanted to play with the markers and he took them right from your hand. And now you’re really angry.”
Another way to witness would be to simply say:
“I hear you. I’m listening.”
But the real trick is not quite in what you say.
It’s in how you show up.Witnessing takes strength. You have to prevent your own discomfort with someone else's discomfort from overriding their right to experience it. Click To Tweet
And it takes practice. My highly-verbal, problem-solving nature wants me to wade right in each and every time. It’s a work-in-progress!
When it’s you that wants to feel seen, go ahead and just ask for it. You’re not a burden when you want to be helped in a specific way. Just try: “I’ve got something to share. Can you witness it, please?” It’s really ok to spell out what you need and how.
And on the giving side: Is there a particular person that would benefit from you witnessing them? Let us know what you’ll do in the comments below.