I am being serious.
Do not tell me what I should do, even if well-intentioned. Do not tell me how to improve my life; it is my life. Do not tell me how to deal with my grief; allow me space to grieve. Do not assume how I’d feel if I did things your way, conducted my life as you conduct yours.
Do not patronize me, please. Trust me, telling me what I should do, or try, or be, is deeply patronizing. Do not assume you are the expert. I am the only expert regarding my problems and my life.
Do these words seem harsh, ungrateful, or abrupt? Does it sound like I have a bit of an attitude here? It should.
I most likely do have an attitude. And any personal insult you feel is requiring your own growth. Think about it.
Where does that offense come from?
I am not trying to offend you.
You see in life, therapy, counseling, life coaching, whatever words you wish to label and dress up potentially expensive “advice,” there should be one golden rule. You should never assume you know what is best for me, period, or anyone else.
Please, never assume I am asking for your advice unless I specifically say, “Can I please ask for your advice regarding…?”
Most often, I am not. I just want to be heard.
I want to verbalize how I feel. It is really that simple.
I want to get frustration, anger, or grief out of my system. I want to vent and to be listened to. To not feel judged or belittled or guided, but to just have your support and feel validated.
Please be mindful of my feelings and do not assume you know what is best for me.
Ultimately, if I do not ask for your advice, I am unlikely to take it (even if it is fantastic, potentially enlightening, and life changing). I honestly do not want it unless I specifically ask for it. I mean this in the kindest way possible.
Let me explain.
It is challenging not to advise others, I know. I understand, so please try this out:
Sit with a friend or relative and ask them if they have any problems. Talk to them, listen to their problems, and then listen to yourself.
How do you respond? What do you say?
Are you mindful of their feelings, emotions, and concerns?
Or are you projecting your own issues or preferred methods of resolution?
I can pretty much guarantee you will offer some well-intentioned advice coming from a place of concern, empathy, and love. Don’t get me wrong, it is admirable that we all feel the need to help others, really help them with our inspired, educated, or experiential advice.
It is human instinct to try to help, but we need to retrain our minds to listen, actively, and not to advise mindlessly.
I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to try and not tell others what they should do, how they should act or feel. It is damn hard. I would not always know what to say in these situations, but it would still feel unnatural for me to say, “you should try this,” or “you should do that,” or “yoga can help.”
Because I am not you, this I know for certain.
What would you think if I told you that you were hindering my healing? Or you were prolonging the agony, and you were potentially insulting?
You are stunting personal growth and awareness and enabling others to create codependency. Instead of showing them that they are stronger than they feel.
Would you be offended if I told you I did not want nor need your advice?
Just ask yourself, why should I take it?
What would work for you would not work for me.
If you want to help assist in directing me to figure out what would work for me, ask me what I would do. What do I want to do? Where do I want to be in five years? How do I want to grow or change my situation? Or, just let me express how I feel at this moment. I want to verbalize it, acknowledge it, and then move the f*ck on from it.
So how should you not advise me? Since I have made it clear, I do not wish your advice.
Be inquisitive, ask me questions, actively listen to me. Yearn to find out more about my thoughts, my feelings, my desires, in an attempt to understand my unique and personal point of view. Focus on finding out how I would prefer to solve my problems and dilemmas. Be inquisitive, ask me.
This, I promise you, will help me more than any thoughtful advice, no matter how effective it is for you. Focus on being mindful of my feelings, my situation, or focus on asking me questions that are solution focussed and do not try to approach my problems from a heroic I know how to solve this problem for you perspective. I can solve my problems for myself. I just need you to be there to listen when I feel the need to vent.
Build me up. Mention to me the qualities you see in me that I don’t see myself, the qualities that would make me feel invincible, strong, and able to contend well with the difficulties that I may be facing. Allow me to realize that I have the skills within me.
Ask me, how did I deal with similar situations in the past? What would I have done differently? How did I feel? How was I able to cope? Let me see that I have the answers within myself. I am my own hero. I just need you to listen when I am not feeling heroic.
Do not compare your situation to mine; it is not the same, and I do not want to hear about what you would do in my situation. You do not need to save me (but, I thank you for well-intentioned attempts). Build me up, do not compare me to others, and do not compare my situation to others either. Ask me what I would do. Spell out my options, but respect that they are my options and should not be influenced by your perceptions of my current situation.
I do not want to feel judged, scolded, or pitied and in need of advice. I just want to be heard and accepted for being me in my personal situation, which I have probably only made 10 percent of public knowledge. Please understand that it is so much more to me than it appears on social media.
This is about me, not you. Again, I appreciate your perceived well-intentioned guidance, but I need to realize the power of my own inner guidance, thoughts, and feelings. I need to feel in control of my own destiny. I need to feel heard and accepted for being me, even in my distress or dark times.
I will listen to your advice if it is given without request. I will acknowledge it, and I will tell you I appreciate it (but I will not appreciate it). I will appreciate the good intentions behind your advice and the fact that you obviously care enough to comment, but be aware that I will take no heed, and I will most definitely do my own thing anyway.
So please take my advice, do not advise others, just be there. Listen.
This, they will appreciate so much more.