A sail without a hull
“A sail without a hull” is a phrase i recently started using to describe people giving advice, usually well-meaning, without first addressing the issues that will allow that advice to be effective.
A number of us have spent many years having our experiences and feelings not heard and/or validated - indeed, often having them regularly _in_validated. In response, we've developed a highly defensive mindset as a form of basic self-protection against being constantly gaslit.
As a result, when people give us advice on how to move forward, it can feel like we're ignoring or resisting it. That might in fact be the case: when one's experiences of advice is of it being given in contexts of invalidation and gaslighting, ignoring or resisting it is a ‘not unreasonable’ response.
So if you're genuinely trying to support someone in this situation, i suggest you first of all spend some time actively hearing and validating their experiences. You need to show them that you're coming from a place of “yes, and ...” instead of “no, the reality is ...”. You need to give them reasons to put less energy into shoring up their defensive wall.
Start building the hull first. Giving someone a sail without a hull is unlikely to be effective in helping them navigate their emotions.☙