It is an easy thing for one whose foot is on the outside of calamity to give advice and rebuke the sufferer. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound
Have you ever endured unsolicited advice? It’s not fun. In fact, it makes me scratch my head and wonder. Why would someone offer advice that you didn’t ask for? word of advice on taking advice
Just who the hell do you think you are to tell me how I should manage my life – when I didn’t ask you in the first place?
I’ve always heard that we easily see the foibles and warts of others while being blind to our own. There’s a bit of truth in that wisdom. It’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror and see with clear eyes what your life really looks like, but it can be done.
The reason I say this is because I was blindsided by some really misinformed advice and what’s even worse – I took the bad advice. AACK!
Yep. It’s my fault completely; I take full responsibility. Had I known what my life would look like a few short months later after acting on what I thought was good advice, I would have politely but forcefully declined. Who knew?
Putting someone in the position of having to explain, justify and defend themselves because you think you have a clearer vision of what is wrong with their life makes you egotistical and narrow-minded. It only adds to the confusion and says a whole lot more about you than it does me.
Don’t you think I realize something is amiss with my life? Don’t you think I’ll come to my own conclusions eventually? Don’t you think I’m smart enough to reach out for help when it’s the right time?
Again, I ask – unless you’re a certified advice professional, who the hell are you to tell me how I should run my life?
Who knew that well-laid plans would completely crumble? Who knew that haughty, condescending and sadly misinformed advice would completely knock me off my feet?
To Thine Own Self Be True
I initially saw the “advice” as a sign from the Supreme-Being-Of-Your-Choice that it was time to make changes and move forward. Was that really the case? I sincerely doubt it.
I find dependence upon some unseen celestial dictator with a major control complex utterly wrong for me on every level. I just knew that if I worked hard, believed in myself and took inspired action that it would all work out.
It hasn’t. That’s really hard to sit with when I truly did believe that hard work, belief in yourself and inspired action would ensure that everything would work out!
That advice brought on a time of fear and uncertainty. Unfortunately when I spoke of the fear surrounding said advice to the advice giver, I was soundly rebuked.
No matter how I framed my fear, I was rebuked and lectured with even more haughty, cruel advice. After all, the same advice worked for someone else, so I should take the same words of wisdom and skip merrily into the future. Oh, by the way, suck it up, sweetie!
You know, it’s easy to offer guidance when you don’t have to swallow the same bitter pill. It’s easy to tell someone else how to run their life when you’re on the outside of the calamity. It’s easy to dispense words of wisdom when you wouldn’t dream of taking the same road – or you don’t have to.
My Aunt Adele used to say that offered advice was like three day-old fish – it stinks.
The next time you think you know how to manage someone else’s life, I want you to stop, put your hand over your mouth and just stop.
Unless you’re a psychic, you have absolutely no clue about the mindset of the person you think you’re helping; you have absolutely no idea of the inner workings of their heart or their life.
You have no idea what is best for them. You might think you know what’s best and that you have a clear view of the situation, but you don’t.
Instead of Dispensing Advice, Do This Instead
So, you think you know everything and you should counsel your best friend because: yes. Seriously? Do you really think I’m going to change my mind because you think you know better? There’s a better way to go about changing someone than giving your advice.
Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP, author of Do The Right Thing: Living Ethically in an Unethical World says this about giving advice:
“If we really want to encourage behavior (or belief) change in others we actually need to move away from advice giving (especially when our advice is unsolicited) and toward modeling. In other words, we need to be an example for others rather than telling them what to do.”
Class, what have we learned from this moment of weakness and stupidity?
If there is anything I have learned throughout this whole debacle it’s that I know I am smart enough to take my own counsel. I have learned that I am smarter, wiser and stronger than I give myself credit for. I have learned that I know best how to run my life even when it doesn’t make sense to those around me. I have learned that my life is in my hands and I shouldn’t think that anyone else has a clearer vision. I have learned that just because you don’t like how I live my life doesn’t mean I have to change course or accommodate you and your opinion.
Along the way, I may make some bad decisions (or blindly act on some really b-a-a-a-a-a-d advice), but that doesn’t make me less knowledgeable than you.
It makes me human. word of advice advice on taking advice word of advice
What I endured has made me tougher and far more compassionate to anyone going through rough times. Even if you were to ask me for insight about a tough situation, I would ask you what does your gut tell you? After all, your heart/guts/intuition will tell you everything you need to know – eventually.
You may not know what to do right now but eventually, you’ll get there. The best part is when you do reach your goals, it will be through your own wisdom and hard work and not on the advice of some smarmy so-called friend who thinks they know what’s best for you.
This is where self-acceptance comes in handy. Learning to love yourself with all your warts, foibles and fears truly gives you clarity on how you want your life to unfold.
After all that, I did manage to send love and light to the perpetrator, but I had to set some pretty tough boundaries which means that person is no longer in my life.
Far be it from me to tell you how to run your life, tell you what’s best for you or – worse – make you feel bad when you’re scared. Life is scary and hard enough as it is!
What I do as your holistic life coach is to ask the right questions to help you see your own situation with clarity. I’m not here to dispense unsolicited advice; I’m here to help you see your own vision. After all, the only vision that you need is the one that’s right for you.
Listen, when it comes to investing or health or legal issues – absolutely get professional advice! That only makes sense. My point is when it comes to what’s best for you and how you live your life, YOU are the best judge. When it comes to your definition of living with grace and ease, YOU are the best judge. Even with professional counseling.
Allow me to give you a word of advice when it comes to advice – take your own advice. Trust me on this one. :) I’m happy to help you get clarity in your life – simply fill out this short contact form and let’s get started today.