I’ve been dreaming up a new modality. Wisewoman. It’s a problem solving modality, rather than a body of specialized knowledge or expertise.
A Wisewoman is someone (actually it could be a woman or a man) who could offer informed, helpful, non-judgemental, confidential advice. Someone who has learned from their life experiences, and can offer help to others. It could be in the form of advice, or mentoring, or help with problem solving. Or just listening without judgement.
Several times in recent years I’ve needed wise general advice about specific topics – from personal health and family issues to finance. Not expert necessarily, but experienced. Someone who could suggest what some of my options might be. Someone who could help me see beyond the immediate issues to the bigger picture.
Too many choices
We live in a complicated world. We’re so busy navigating the multiple levels and complexities of modern life: work, family, friends, older generation, etc, that we often can’t look after ourselves properly.
There’s knowledge and information in bucketloads, but it’s hard to know what’s reliable and what’s relevant to our situation. And there are so many clever marketers and advertisers loudly competing for our attention. Googling for answers can be risky if you don’t know how to choose between the options. And with many of the problems in our complex world, there is no single solution.
An empowering modality
I envisage this as an empowering modality. Not just another expert. A Wisewoman might not always offer advice. Quite often the process would involve helping the client organize their own ideas and knowledge and find solutions from within themselves. Some of this might be obvious in retrospect. But in my experience, when you’re in the throes of a complex situation, you need help to see beyond it.
Faith in experts
My late mother was a scientist who put her faith in experts. She trusted scientific knowledge and the government to look after her as an individual. But the problem with expertise in our modern Western culture is that it tends to be narrowly specialized, and not holistic. A foot doctor knows about feet, and not back pain, or digestive issues.
Also, it’s not an empowering model. When you ask an expert to help, you are giving away your power, more often than not.
Wise general advice
Here are just a few examples where wise advice would be valuable: How to advise a young person re making choices about study; A personal health issue – urgent or chronic; Dealing with ageing family members; Navigating the menopause; How to make general choices around money – who to ask for help.
If you’re lucky, this kind of advice could come from a friend. I think we could and should be doing this for each other. But if you don’t have an available friend, it would be good to know who else to ask.
And with some kinds of problems, there’s lots of potential for judgement. We need places where we can get confidential advice from someone who isn’t in our personal family or friendship network.
Beyond coaching and counseling
A Wisewoman role has some similarities with mentoring, coaching or counseling, but it’s more than that. And it’s not a mental health modality. Ministers might have offered this kind of help in past generations.
There are some specialties that encompass wise advice within their area of expertise. A naturopath is often a generalist in health modalities. An experienced midwife will have a depth of wisdom and practical support through pregnancy and in the early stages of caring for a new baby. GPs used to have this kind of role, and some still do, but increasingly now their job is too complex.
Navigating health choices
Personal health choices is a particular area where wise general advice would be especially useful. When I’m sick, I often can’t think for myself. I need someone to give me general advice about whether I need to stay in bed for a few days, or whether I should buy a bottle of herbal remedy and keep going. Or perhaps it’s a serious illness and I should go to a doctor. (My husband has many skills, but he’s no good for this kind of advice!)
When my kids were young, I was lucky to have a wise woman as my GP. She had training in homeopathy as well as medicine, and she had raised four children. She could offer all kinds of practical advice. She wasn’t infallible, but most of the time her advice was helpful.
But times have changed. My present GP seems unwilling to give me wise general advice. She weighs me, checks my blood pressure and sends me for blood tests and cancer screenings. If I ask her questions, she refers me to specialists.
In the medical model health system there is a lot of high-tech expertise. I’m not dismissing this. I’ve had my life saved a couple of times.
But in everyday life, there are many chronic health issues that drugs and surgery can’t fix, and it’s hard to work out what to do on our own.
I need a wise woman in my life. And I’m prepared to take this role myself, for others. If this sounds interesting to you, please contact me. I’d love to talk more about this!