When I think about supporting others in life the most important advice is to remember how contextual it is. When we work on a solution, it is always possible for us to scale it to one person. It makes me think of a John Mayer lyric, talking about a girl. It goes “she’s like a maze, where all of the walls all continually change”.
This line fascinates me because in a way it’s a great description for all of our lives. We all exist on a never-ending constellation of mental health, addiction, struggle, and success. Not some of us, but every single one of us exists in this maze where all of the walls all continually change.
So what’s the solution to dealing with the maze of life?
In some cases, we need universal principles. There will be things we should always do, in every single case. And things we should never, ever do. For those things, and those things only we make them universal.
This goes for self-care, parenting, teaching, and coaching. If something can be applied to every person and situation, make it a universal rule.
Scale It To One Person
Blanket statements that can’t be applied to one hundred percent of the scenarios are dangerous if applied to more than one person.
Instead of asking questions like, “what should people with addictions do to recover?” or “How should a fifteen year old who doesn’t know how to read yet start learning?” we must look at the individual case.
There is always context and nuance, that not only matters but is vital to the situation. I see why people want universal principles, it makes things easier, simpler, perhaps quicker. But in the end, it’s just not worth it.
By hoping we get it right, or that the statistics work in our favour then we will probably be right back where we started. Because, the maze keeps changing, people change, situations change, needs, ambitions, pleasure and pain. They are all continually changing.
Therefore, every single time, scale it to one person. If you are coaching, parenting, or teaching, ask what is best for that one person?
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