This is part of a series called: “How to Give Great Circle.” It’s for those who’ve Circled before and want to hone their Circling skills. If you haven’t already read the previous parts, I highly recommend you do so here.

In Part 1, I talked about speaking about Self, “I”, and in Part 2 I talked about speaking about Other, “You,” and in Part 3, I discussed Asking Questions.

In Part 4, I’ll go into something we all love doing: Advice Giving. Yay!

Well, whether we like doing it or not, we all give advice.

Sometimes solicited, sometimes not.

Circling is really not the best place to get our fill of Advice Giving, however.

Because Advice Giving is not the most connected form of communicating, and Circling is about having a shared experience of connection.

Understand Why We Might Be Giving Advice in the First Place

In Circling (and in life) there are many reasons we like giving advice.

If the other person is feeling some strong emotion, we may co-resonate with them and actually feel some of the same feelings they’re feeling in our body.

For example, if someone is feeling deep grief or shame, we’ll probably have some kind of visceral response to that.

Which can be uncomfortable, to say the least.

Sometimes advice giving comes from a place of wanting the other person to change their emotional state so that we will feel better.

Or… maybe we are wanting to be seen or heard in a given moment.

Or maybe we think we have some insight that would help the Circlee and it would feel good to help them.

There is nothing wrong with any of this.

And… in Circling, I still recommend we express ourselves in a different way than straight-up advice giving.

A Few Reasons Why to Avoid Advice Giving

In our experience, we’ve found that Advice Giving often comes from not being connected.

It’s trying to control the experience, rather than relating (to others, ourselves, and what is happening in the moment).

Advice giving also has an unspoken assumption: that is something is wrong and needs to be changed or fixed.

Men, I’m talking to you.

It can send the message to the person that whatever they are doing or experiencing right now is wrong.

Which never feels good to be on the receiving end of.

In Circling, we get to practice welcoming what arises in the moment.

As Ram Dass said: “Everything is perfect as it is, including our desire to change it.”

We may be using advice giving as a covert strategy for getting what we want.

Maybe we (consciously or unconsciously) want the other person to smile and take a breath, or we want people to look at us and listen to us, or for them to tell us we’re smart.

(Note: I’ve never said anything to get people to tell me I’m smart.)

(Okay, fine. I have. Like right now, for example.)

And as the truism goes: what we resist, persists. And advice giving can be a form of resistance. It can sometimes come from the energy of resisting your experience of the moment.


A Similar But Different Tactic to Advice Giving Is Care-Taking

Therapist and men’s coach Dr. Robert Glover says care-taking often comes out of our own anxiety or need for external validation.

Ahem. Women, I’m talking to you.

This urge to caretake can arise in Circling (and for some of us, every day of life) and is totally normal.

Glover says a higher version of this might be caring – which comes from a place of calmness, love, consciousness, and the ability to really see what the other person needs most.

If you find yourself wanting to caretake, notice that.

Maybe even share it.

Alright, Bill, you’ve convinced me. So what should I do?

You Can Own Your Experience

If you feel called, you can share your experience of wanting to give advice in the moment. And see what happens!

For example: “I’m feeling a lot of tension and agitation right now.”

Or “I’m feeling impatient and frustrated hearing that.”

You can also own your want for them. For example: “My wish for you is to have a job you love.” Or: “I really want you to be happy right now.”

Or: “You’ve been holding your breath for a while, and I’m really wanting you to breathe it out.”

Even if you don’t share your thought, I recommend you at least notice it.

Welcome What Arises and Watch the Energy Shift

In our experience, the emotional energy of the Circlee, ourselves, or the group will shift – but often only after it’s been fully accepted.

Right where it is.

So if you’re feeling antsy or uncomfortable with your own bodily sensations, practice acceptance.

Of everything.

And notice what happens.

Another Option: Self-Soothe Yourself by Lengthening Your Exhale

You know how at the end of yoga classes you “Om” 3 times and you somehow feel calmer?

This is (in part) because you are taking a quick in breath and long out breath.

This activates your “vagal brake” on your heart – which will slow your heart down and down-regulate the stress response of your body.

It is crazy that this works, but it does.

(The vagus nerve is the main cranial nerve chain that goes from your brain to your organs and from your organs to your brain. It’s like the most important thing, ever.)

So if you’re feeling worked up and want to calm yourself, use shorter inhales and longer exhales while breathing.

On the flip side, if you find yourself spacing out or nodding off, you can use longer inhales and shorter exhales to wake up. This is how boxers prepare for a fight, they literally huff and puff. This removes your vagal brake and increases your heart rate and blood flow.

(Note: This all comes from Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, which I suspect will be the biggest breakthrough in health sciences of our time.)

Lead with a Spirit of Curiosity

Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, says that curiosity and judgment cannot co-exist because they are opposites.

So when you feel an urge to judge or give advice, practice having a Beginner’s Mind.

Instead, get curious.

About the Circlee’s experience.

About your own experience, and what may have triggered your reaction.

About the shared experience you are having in the group.

All that juicy stuff!

Be Aware of Your Own Attachments For Something Big to Happen

Sometimes in a circle, we get impatient if a circle is not “deep enough” or we are attached to “a lot happening.”

This reveals our own expectations and attachments to a certain outcome.

It’s normal to have expectations and attachments.

(Desire is a thing.)


Circling is the practice of being more fully here in the moment.

There’s nowhere else to get to.

I hope you’ve gotten something out of my insights on how to Circle like a champ, and that I’ve convinced you to save your coaching hat for the little league baseball team.

Thanks for listening to my advice. (Wink!)

…and I’ll see you in Part 5!

– Bill