On too much well-meaning advice
Ah, friends and family. Those well-meaning people in our lives who offer advice like candy on Halloween.
Taking in others’ advice is like sampling from an apothecary.
Opinions and Asses: Everyone’s Got One
Whether it’s when to leave a career or how to best file income taxes, opinions abound. We are not talking about those rare issues that offer very little gray area.
Nope. We are talking about those hem and haw mental challenges where we just aren’t certain what to do. Situations like:
- whether to take a Gap Year after high school or head straight to university
- plan a huge wedding or get married on the beach with only your immediate family and friends
- have another child
- change careers midlife
The Stealthy Side Effects of Advice
When we are in a painful or anxious place, we are more vulnerable to other’s well-meaning advice.
Everyone who cared about me offered up their opinions:
“Fight them in court.”
“Whatever you do, don’t go through the legal system. Only the lawyers win in court.”
“You need to see a therapist.”
“You don’t need a therapist. You need to go for a massage.”
“You need to keep busy and not think about it.”
The side effect of all of this mental and contradictory advice: my heart and head felt incapable of processing.
Here’s the danger of heeding others’ advice: the more you listen to others’ mental medicine, the less you can hear your own inner wisdom.
It’s one thing to hear what another person has to say; it’s quite another to take in that advice.
Some of us are sensitive and not aligned (at the time — this too can always change) with our inner compass, so that even hearing the advice isn’t healthy for us.
When I’m not feeling centered, all I have to do is read the side effect warnings of a drug and the placebo effects begins.
But when we heed the opinions and suggestions of others, we are reneging our intuition to someone else.
Accepting the opinions of others as your own is a form of mental ingestion. Digest enough of those varied words as yours and you’ve just mentally overdosed.
The Best Prescription
The best prescription when you feel uncertain about your next move is the one that arrives from within.
I’m not suggesting to stick your head in the sand like an ostrich (besides, that would be me giving you advice;-).
The best prescription is tuning into you.
Maybe that means going for a walk or baking or meditating. Maybe it means drawing or taking a siesta for a couple of hours.
When we tune inwards for guidance, we find balance; we are better equipped to then hear the opinions of others without ingesting them.
Humans are like snowflakes. Each of us is unique. And just like a snowflake, each of us is going to offer a perspective that is a one-of-a-kind-by-product from the alchemy of our environment and genetics:
Because a snowflake’s shape evolves as it journeys through the air, no two will ever be the same. Even two flakes floating side by side will each be blown through different levels of humidity and vapor to create a shape that is truly unique.-BBC
So, centered, it doesn’t surprise me that my friend who was, at one point, a victim of an abuser, gave me the advice to “Fight ’em in court.”
A family member who thankfully cannot relate to my situation but is perpetually burning the midnight oil, suggested I just “get a massage” and “don’t think about it.”
Everyone’s advice came from a loving place. But the verbal drugs they were offering were created in the lab of their own perspective.
Overdosing on others’ advice made me both fatigued and anxious. Without realizing it, “swallowing” their advice pills, I lost my way.
It wasn’t until I got quiet (lots of walks and naps:) that I realized what I needed to do — for me.
Signs of a Potential Overdose
Wondering what a potential Advice Overdose looks like? Here are some that I encountered:
- difficulty sleeping
- difficulty concentrating
- mental fatigue
- upset stomach
Take Two and Call Me in the Morning
Joking — don’t take two of anything from me. (I’m not a doctor, though I play one on TV;-)
Be kind to yourself. Journal. Reflect. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you can to slow down and honor that voice always residing within you.
Our feelings offer a powerful guide in this life. When we slow down, we are more likely to pay attention and notice what feelings are coming up. Acknowledging them is the first step in finding the best self-prescription.