‘Take my advice, I don’t use it anyway.’ When you find yourself facing a problem or dilemma in your life, do you ask for advice? Who do you ask? A close friend or a loved one? Truth be told, oftentimes what we are looking for is validation, not guidance. So you asked her what to do, but you already made that decision and you just want her to give you the thumbs up.
You know what they say: ‘Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give to some people.’ Who do you usually turn to for pointers? Someone truly knowledgeable or your bestie, who may know little or nothing about your medical issue, relationship concerns or job dilemma? “So tell me, what is your dream job? In my dreams I don’t work. Oh.”
One thing we know for certain: Family and close friends are most certainly not objective. Try asking your parents what neighborhood to live in. Is next door to us too far? Isn’t if funny how your parents tell you it’s ‘their’ house but as soon as something needs cleaning, it magically becomes yours too?
Well, here’s an example of a man giving relationship advice via calls to a friend. Friend: I don’t want to leave her, I really care abo… He replies: I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up. Speaking of advice…Where do spiders seek health advice? Web M.D.
But seriously, if you trust the person you are seeking counsel from, you ordinarily share the same moral values and beliefs. The ideas and views that agree and harmonize with your way of thinking are naturally the ones you are most likely to follow. Sure, it may make you feel less alone asking for that second opinion; especially when he shares the exact same viewpoint as you. Please be cautious. Sometimes the one dispensing the medicine is the one who is making you sick.
‘Of course your opinion matters; just not to me.’ So you have an opinion about my life. Okay, which one of my bills will you be paying this month? Sheesh. Do you fancy yourself a great advice giver? Suppose you took her recommendations and it all went south. Can’t you simply avoid responsibility and now blame her? Try asking for knowledge instead of suggestions. The more information you have, the easier it will be to form your own slant. Think about the opposing view instead of automatically going along with your confirmation bias.
Asking for support or even help has tremendous bonding power as well. The truth is that most of us feel good when we perceive that we are of use or helping someone. That can make you feel connected and even closer to him. Maybe your insights have helped her in the past, or perhaps you have succeeded in something she is trying to achieve. And who doesn’t want to feel as though their perspective and point of view is valued?
If he did take the time to offer some suggestions, propositions or his two cents, please don’t forget to thank him. Everyone’s time is valuable. If someone shares theirs, please express appreciation. A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.
Do you really want guidance, or do you just want to be right? If we’re honest, oftentimes we know the answers. But we look for that magic weight loss ‘secret’, or some quick ‘relationship tips’. Anything to avoid the hard work and discomfort of actually making changes.
Here’s a diet tip. Keep an open mind and a closed refrigerator. We all know that French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America. I know. You have ‘hunger management issues’. But hey, if a cookie falls on the floor and you pick it up, that’s a squat, right?
Perhaps you are ashamed to ask for help or advice for fear of appearing foolish or weak minded. If you wish to improve upon any weakness, do not engage in that self handicapping behavior please. Some of those around us have an inflated view of their abilities and would never dream of seeking hints or help from others. But how can you truly overcome setbacks in life with no feedback? Here’s some free advice: If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler.
What’s that? You’re not stubborn’ you’re just always right? In fact, feeling connected to others in the key to mental health. When you isolate yourself and try to solve all of life’s problems solo you may become overly worried, troubled and tense. Being able to be vulnerable is a sign of strength, substance and security; not weakness. No need to go it alone all the time. Google cannot answer everything. What if one day Google was deleted and you couldn’t google what happened to Google? But hey if we destroy this planet, we can always move to Google Earth.
Go ahead and ask for her input. Those who need it the most, like it the least. Improve your knowledge and even your well being. Let him point out obstacles or roadblocks you may have missed.
Let her encourage you to do something you may never have even considered before. Did it ever occur to you that he can give you a new perspective? Perhaps he can simply reaffirm that your original plan made perfect sense.
Remember sweet friends, you can always follow or dismiss the advice. Sometimes it’s not the lesson or even the words of wisdom, but who it came from that influences us. Ask him if you hold him in high regard. You’d be surprised how many people like to give their magic formulas and two cents worth. But bear in mind. Advice is kind of like cooking. You should try it before you feed it to others.
If you’re going through a rough patch, remember sweet friends: Time gives good advice.
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, Crisis Counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.