Let Courage Be Your North Star
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Blog #4: Advice Abyss

Advice.  Great when you need it, frustrating when all you feel is the constant punch of unsolicited feedback. Unwanted advice can put anyone in a quandary. It comes in two forms, the know-it-alls and those who genuinely want what's best for us; maybe a few who stratal both. In my years being a counselor, I learned very quickly that most people didn't really want advice from me, they wanted me to listen, they wanted to feel validated for their thoughts, feelings and decisions. At first I dove straight into "well you should really." That strategy didn't work often, it only put the other person on the defensive as they tried even harder to explain their situation or perspective. When someone wants guidance they typically start out by saying, "hey, I would like your thoughts" or "what would you do?" 

Lately I have noticed my internal resistance to receiving advice when not asked.  I actually get an icky feeling in my stomach with the secondary emotion of wanting to flee. I had to step back and ask myself, "what is it about advice that sometimes translates into straight anger?" I realized it was the approach and delivery.  I share something and am told how I feel or what I did wasn't right.  "Well I would have done it this way, why did you do that, you can't do that." As a child, constant redirecting and guidance can do a number on your confidence and self-esteem. It also does damage to your internal guidance system, your intuition, because you feel like everyone is telling you to think, feel and do something else. You are too young to understand the psychology behind it. All you know is that what you are doing isn't right, because an adult told you so. Now, I will say, obviously there are times we need guidance. We don't want anyone's hands getting burned on the stove. We all offer advice to others because we care. We don't like seeing the people we love suffer. And you get the occasional person who loves to hear themselves talk :)

There are two things I want to leave with you today.

1) Consider adjusting your approach to advice giving. My yoga friend Jacquelyn Ardeneaux gives me some of the best advice.  I love her open and non-judgmental spirit. I can tell her anything and feel completely received. One day after having a really hard day I called her in tears. The first thing she said was "do you want me to listen or do you want advice?" It completely caught me off guard in a very touching way. In that moment I needed her to hear me out first, let me vent, then offer some guidance. She didn't convince me to feel differently or try and sway me in a certain direction. Perhaps asking those around you what type of feedback they want, will help in the delivery and reception of your words. I guarantee it will create more meaningful relationships. 

2) Advice is just that, someone else's opinion about something. We have the ability to take it or leave it. Before we quickly file it away as "oh just another example of how I can't do anything right," in that moment we get to change our narrative and tell ourselves, "interesting thought, do I agree with it, does it feel good to me." If it does great, if not, let it go. You will never please everyone and there will be plenty of advice coming your way in the future. Dump the ones that cause you friction and keep the ones that empower you.

With Love

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