Can I use ‘safe experiments’ to help others?

talking to, not talking with

The general answer here is ‘no’.

Small, safe experiments as I understand them can only give you insights into your own life. The impact you experience is not likely to be the same for some-one else.

You cannot know how your experiences will impact on another person. Indeed, it is very difficult to know how your small, safe experiment might impact on others close to you.

It’s perfectly possible to over-estimate our ability to ‘help’ other people. Often it helps to ask: who am I really ‘helping’? It’s likely to be yourself. Most of us are in the ‘helping’ professions for personal reasons. Our drives are not always ultruistic.

In my work, I often invite people to design and implement a safe experiment, but I can never make some-one take up the invitation as I cannot predict the result and I a pretty sure I am already coercive enough!

There is the ever-present risk that safe experiments, when involving others, do so in a manipulative and indirect fashion. This website runs the risk of doing this by giving advice and information on ‘safe experiments’ and which ones to use.

Help or hinderance?

In my work, it is unacceptable to put pressure on to act in any one particular way. I need you to tell me when that is happening. I may be unable to be different, if you do not say.

That said, I am aware this may sound stand-offishness, as though I do not care about others. It could sound ‘cold’ and distant. Most of us want to help others. Also, there are times when others need us, say, in a time of crisis.  One such time arises when some-one suffers a loss. This might include an accident, a family bereavement, a divorce or a loss of home or employment.

As one subscriber put it to me

Please Listen to Me

When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me, and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do, just hear me.

When you do something for me – that I can and need to do for myself – you contribute to my fear and weakness.

It is for such reasons that I let my clients know I can be ‘gobby’, as I put it. I invite them to tell me to ‘shut up’ should that tendency get in the way!

Any takers? Let me know!! I think it’s helpful to make that offer as I want to listen to others and practise being good at listening to myself.

So, if this website unintentionally disregarded your feelings, then I’d ask you to say so and to identify what more I need to do differently ……… try the contact form, below:

Return to:


What is a nudge

What pathway to follow in therapy

Other obstacles to therapy

Ways of healing