“A plan implemented by them will always succeed more than a plan imposed by you.”
I’ve been facilitating groups at a rehab in Orange County. This one is like the “B-team” of fuck-ups, which is why I love them so much. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way, I get them. There’s just something about someone that’s given up on life, burnt every bridge, and is still unwilling to do anything about it that I admire whole-heartedly. That stubbornness is a front though. They want help, but make it hard for anyone unprepared to give it. Make no mistake about it, anyone attempting to ride into that group room on the high horse canned pitch crusade…you just entered the seventh circle of hell. They will eat you alive if you try coming at them with some unoriginal explanations or some recited shit. After years of being ignored and neglected, they believe that recovery is a sham. Smoke and mirrors from the those that brag about helping the beginner. They were nowhere to be found when the time came to put their money where their mouth was. The few times they did receive help, they were treated like a student, lectured by a professor. Being graded instead of guided and imposing compliance without showing compassion. Absent reason to continue, they succumbed to the addiction time and time again until the pain of survival drove them back in treatment. Another opportunity…another chance to connect. You just have to be creative in order to break past the wall.
Facilitating is not that much different than sales. Both have a problem to be solved and a barrier to break through before they’ll give your solution the credibility necessary to move forward. What you say and do is not nearly as important as how you say it or do it. You have to play by their rules if you want to sell, because looking for willing, “lay downs,” or “cherry picking” the desperate isn’t going to pay the bills. Showing someone, you have what they want requires understanding them.
If I’m right, they’re wrong.
First, I have to define the objective and whether I’m trying to reach or trying to preach. There’s a huge difference between the two. Preaching is presenting a description of the problem and expressing it as factual; while reaching is understanding the context of that description is only relevant to the person that can understand it. Truth is interpreted by the recipient, and intention is defined by the way I present the truth. The truth is useless to the person receiving it if they don’t trust you. Instead of trying to predict why they’re here or dictate what the problem is, I just ask them what it is. “What happened? Why are you here?” If the objective is to help them, does disagreeing with them further your purpose?
Feelings ARE facts.
“It doesn’t matter how you feel, it matters what you do.” Doesn’t matter to who? To them or to you? To the outcome? How I feel about the significance of their feelings is irrelevant if the objective is to truly help them. What they feel is the truth and how I feel about it is irrelevant. Invalidating someone’s feelings does not advance progress, creating further division and limiting trust the next time it’s relevant. They just want connection, to be heard, felt, and understood; it doesn’t seem like much to ask of me. If recovery is a mutually desired destination then it is traveled to with trust, and trust is solidified with empathy.
Their willingness shouldn’t dictate yours.
Service is a gift given freely without expectation. Their level of commitment has no bearing on my commitment to them. Help is given from a place of unconditional love, allowing them to experience their journey and keeping the door open when they are ready to pass through it. Conditional willingness is the ugliest form of arrogance, determined by calculated by assigning a value to an assumptive outcome based on the probability of success. They are not a reflection of me, I’m a reflection of them.
My solution isn’t theirs.
Advice is humility and direction, ego. Instructions are taken when help is required, while suggestion is given when hope is needed. I am not responsible for their progress, but they are essential for mine. The suffering don’t want to listen, they need to be heard. They aren’t interested in your help because they really need your love. The gift of love that can be given is in fact, a gift that’s received.
The trusted advisor is not much different from a salesperson, recognizing the best way to help is to empathize and letting them be heard so a connection is formed; solely based on a trust earned from the consideration of their feelings in order to solve their problem with your solution.