HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!! Today is my mum’s birthday and although I promised not to spoil her with materialistic gifts, I never said anything about announcing the day to the world! It kind of fits having mum part of today’s article because it’s all about advice and I have survived my entire life following the advice my mum gave me growing up (or by ignoring it and doing the total opposite!). Luv ya mummy! Have a great day!
You know from my article The Secret that I am a strong believer in using positive thinking to attain what I want in life. It’s worked well for me so far and while I still don’t have all the things I want, I believe they are coming.
I ran in to a girlfriend last week who has been unemployed for a few months and is trying desperately to find a new job. She’s had a few great interviews and is feeling pretty down about not getting anywhere with them. It’s hard to see her doing it so tough because usually she is the most vivacious and fun person you could ever want to be around (she still looks out of this world amazing and was happy to hear me whinge about my own issues for 10 minutes!) but there is an air of self doubt about her at the moment, lost in not knowing how things are going to turn out for her.
I did what friends do, I told her it was all going to work out and all she had to do was “stay positive”. It’s a mantra I believe in so strongly but as the words came out of my mouth I felt like such an idiot. Of course positive thinking can turn things around but when you are down and feel powerless to change your situation, don’t you just want to strangle everyone who tells you to “look on the bright side” and “don’t worry, things will all work out”, all with that condescending look on their face? You know the one, that ‘you poor thing’ look. I know it took all her effort not to roll her eyes and tell me to shut up and I wouldn’t blame her if she had, I would have wanted to do the same thing!
Sometimes you just want to vent and have someone say, you know what, you’re right, that’s sucks, I’m sorry. People aren’t always asking for your advice or expecting you to help, sometimes we just need to whinge.
My constant need to jump in and offer positive affirmations when confronted with a friend in need made me wonder, when your first instinct is to dole out unsolicited advice, is it better to just shut up?
I started to think about all the times I’ve offered help to my friends when they haven’t asked for it and did some research about why people give unsolicited advice. From what I can tell from a few Google searches, people who feel the need to give this kind of advice are ego maniacs who love the sound of their own voice and want to show you that they know better than you. Is this what my friends think of me, that I’m some uppity know it all who is trying to rub it in their faces that I know better than them? I suppose in a way I can understand the point. We’ve all had a friend who knows everything about everything and will tell you every chance they get. Is that me, am I that friend?
Over the last few days I’ve been trying a new tact. Rather than being the know it all, I told you so friend, I’ve been sympathetic and agreeable. It’s a big step for me because usually I can’t help but feel someone telling me about a problem means I automatically have to fix it. I realised over the course of writing this article that my friends, family and colleagues aren’t my problem to solve and unless someone asks for my advice or opinion I should just be the shoulder they need to cry on (within reason).
If all that fails and I can’t hold my tongue any longer (because I really do know better) I shall follow this simple rule:
“The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give to others. If you wouldn’t follow your own advice, don’t offer it”. Harvey Mackay, MackayMitchell Envelope Co