One of the big debates in the therapy field divides those who offer advice, from those that let you figure every thing out for yourself.

Here is what I call the plop, plop joke. It makes fun of those who carry Carl Roger’s reflecting back aka don’t give advice to an  extreme.

A client speaking to his Rogerian therapist says: “I am so depressed, I just don’t feel like is worth living.” The therapist replies: “I hear you saying that you are in pain and that you are not sure how you will ever feel better.” The client replies by saying: “I really feel I would be better off dead.” To which therapist comments: “You really are at your wits ends about what to do.” The client stands and moves to the window of the office and opening it up, the therapist says observes, “You are showing me how much pain you are in, how desperate you are.” The client then jumps out the window – the therapist says, “Splat.”

Confession: Old Folk love to give advice.  Another Confession, my husband drives me and our kids crazy when he starts giving  advice.  Another Confession, I drive my husband and kids crazy when I start giving advice.


As usual management tips are often useful to all.  I liked these thoughts from the Leadership freak.

The One and Only Reason to Help «Leadership Freak 

Here is what I thought was the heart of his argument.

“The one reason:  Real help takes people to the place where they don’t need help. Any other reason is a dead end.

  1. Doing things “for” someone doesn’t help.
  2. Doing things “with” someone helps as long as they grow.
  3. Letting them struggle helps as long as they are making adequate progress.


You know I have to argue. And my  first quarrel is with number one.  There are times when doing something for someone else does help.  You need to do things for people they cannot do for themselves. Or that take them forever to do, when a taxi is waiting outside for you and the meter is running. I am thinking specifically of tying a child’s shoe laces, but I am sure there are other times it makes sense to do for.  I know hubby can cook his own breakfast. But “Doing for him” in this instance gives us both pleasure and tighten the ties that bind. I also know that if I want a little loving, hubby will often return the favor.

My second quarrel is that we all stand on the shoulders of other people’s knowledge. The young are too often encouraged to close their ears to the wisdom of the ages.  Media wisdom speaks louder, is decked out in more appealing clothes and has the advantage of not coming from someone who you know too well.   As an old one, who is sometimes wise as well as wacky and wearisome, I will be happier when there is more media balance.

And guess what?  It is slowly happening because those who initially said “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” are now heading into their silver years.  I’m ten years ahead of them.  It amuses me that the fresh young faces I watched on Sesame street with my kids, when I watch with my grands, I see are now  middle-aged and aging.  I am also glad  not been all of them have been  kicked off the show. Life goes on.

My main tip is to keep and open mind, keep learning, keep sharing.  Some will reject your help or advice, don’t take it personally.  Others will appreciate it and if htat is only one other, you have improved the world.


Be kind to  me,  repost this if you feel it will help another, like this post or share it.  You will be helping me stay strong and maybe some others as well.   Click here for my free Ebook: The 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises.

Stay strong, I’m trying.




  1. Is it no longer okay to ask? If I ask someone who has encountered an emergency situtation in his life if I may help in some way and he says “no,” then if I repeat the offer with assurance he only needs to call and I will follow through, and if I check on him, say, a week later, and still, the answer is “no”, then am I not absolved?
    And if I know something totally important that would help lots, am I not obliged to offer, to ask, if I have the available time, myself?
    On the other hand, I never want to help someone be weaker or even lazy. If a friend has a bad habit of ending up with too much to do, I should let her learn, right? If I offered anything, it might be advice. She might not take it, or might even resent it, but hey, what ARE friends for? Isn’t part of the duty of friendship to bear a mild outlash, as a sounding board, with grace and forgiveness? I think so.
    Good reason to have few friends, though, or soon I would be the needy one.

    • Well thought out reply. And “How can I help?” should be engraved in everyone’s brain particularly when some one is angry. Also I feel free to offer a bit of advice, but I usually wait to see a pattern–three strikes and I can speak. Most people won’t listen but if others are saying the same it often accumulates and what is needed gets heard.

      And my most treasured friends are the ones who tell it like it is. Hate insincerity.

      Thank you for commenting and making me think more about what matters.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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