How certain is probably?

The idea of language, the way we speak and what we choose to say is fascinating.

There are words you may use without really understanding exactly what they mean or how they could be interpreted.

I recently received a message that included the word probably. My first thought was how far from definite it was.

I found myself asking google ‘How certain is probably?’. The answer I got, is that it’s more likely a yes than no. However, that no is not a no without a shadow of a doubt, it’s more like a no with a shadow of doubt.

For example, if you asked someone of they would help you with something later in the day and they responded with ‘probably’, you haven’t really gained any clarity from the answer.

When you’re looking to someone for some form of clarity, you’ll want responses like yes, no or certainly, you want an answer that you can rely on.

The difference between helping and fixing

It’s easy to find yourself stuck between helping someone and fixing things for them.

When you help you teach and offer tools giving the other person a chance to grow, develop and learn to do things for themselves. When you fix things for people they’re likely to become reliant on others to do things for them because that is all they know.

Often when we see people we care about face challenging situations we lend a hand. You think you’re helping but what you’re really doing is fixing the problem for them. And so as time passes and the person faces more challenges they don’t know how to do things for themselves because they haven’t learnt how to overcome.

We do it because we care and we don’t want to see the people we care for suffer. But in doing so we forget that these people have strengths within themselves and that they are also capable of overcoming their own challenges.

And so the lesson lies in finding the balance between helping and fixing. I’ve learnt that support plays a significant and often overlooked role. To look the person you love in the eye and simply say ‘I’m here for you and I’ll support you through this’ may be more powerful and have longer lasting effects than fixing things for them.

‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’