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Rejecting Proffered Advice August 12, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People.

alice26th“You should go back to school and get a degree in Taxidermy.  It’s an up and coming field.”

“If you don’t have kids now, someday you’ll run out of ideas to fill all your free time.”

“You should buy this lime-green and pink polka dot dress to wear to your college reunion.”

Often, when people offer advice, they are merely saying what they would do if they were in my shoes.

Only they are not in my shoes ~ I am.

Then, again, maybe they are merely hoping to watch me fall flat on my face after encouraging me to make a series of unfortunate decisions.  

Calvin-gots-an-IdeaI am in a unique position. I am the only expert on my life, my dreams, my motivations, my preferences, and my priorities.

I have the best vantage point to decide which choices are right for me.  I also am the one who has the most at stake and who must live with the consequences of the choices I make and actions I take.

That’s not to say that I don’t bounce ideas off friends from time to time, but I don’t even consider implementing their proffered advice unless it resonates with me.

As a somewhat extreme example, it’s been 16 years since I stopped practicing law.  Someone near and dear to me STILL thinks that I should open my own law practice . . . despite the fact that there has not been a SINGLE day that I have missed being in a courtroom or taking a deposition.

snow_white_appleHer advice has nothing to do with ME.   It has to do with HER.  She likes the idea of me being an attorney because of how it makes HER feel.

I am disinclined to substitute her opinion for my own.  It would be like biting into a poisoned apple.

Does this mean we should stop the giving and receiving advice?  Of course not.

* If I overhear someone talking about going to an Indian restaurant, and I know of a good one, then I’m going to be inclined to share that information.

* If I hear someone say that they are going to start a blog, I may chomp at the bit to share a bit of what I’ve learned on SLTW.

* If someone is complaining about feeling stressed out, I may let them know how mindfulness and meditation has helped me and point them to some resources.

Donald-Duck-BaseballWhat the recipient chooses to do with the proffered information is his or her business, not mine.

I tossed it out there as a GIFT.  If they choose to ignore it, that’s fine.

True gifts from the heart don’t come with strings attached.

My advice (no strings attached):

If someone offers you well-meaning but misplaced advice, feel free to leave it sitting on the runway as you continue your journey . . . wearing your own shoes.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  “I Know What You Should Do!” * How Do You Know? (Awakening to Your Story) * The Matrix of Choice (Think Simple Now) * Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? * Other People See Your Problems More Clearly Than You Do  (Raptitude)


1. Crowing Crone Joss - August 12, 2013

My daughter says one bit of advice I gave her that she tries to follow is “always do what makes sense to you – it doesn’t matter if it makes sense to anyone else”. Although I often – well sometimes – appreciate advice, I’m more often amazed at the things people feel they are entitled to have an opinion about!

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Good advice, Joss. Some of the best decisions I’ve made made little sense to those around me.

The funniest example of someone feeling entitled to opine in my direction was a bowling instructor who insisted, at first meeting, that I SHOULD have kids . . . to avoid future regret. :mrgreen:

Crowing Crone Joss - August 12, 2013

I bet you thought of a dozen sharp responses as you walked away! Cripes!

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

I had 3 more lessons with her, so I didn’t argue. I did remind her that she saw the world behind HER eyes, not mine. 😉

2. aawwa - August 12, 2013

Yes, I agree with what you are saying. You are the best person to decide what is right for you 🙂

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

I suppose people who don’t have the sense they was born with benefit from looking to others for guidance (rather than continuing to jump off the nearest cliff without a safety net), but most of us can find custom-tailored advice by looking within for the answers we need.

3. katecrimmins - August 12, 2013

Well said. When I went through a divorce many, many years ago, a friend (who had never been divorced nor was she an attorney or even involved in the legal field) continued to give me (unsolicited) advice over the duration of the proceeding. Most of it was pretty nasty revenge-type stuff. Yep, I took your advice (even though you hadn’t given it to me yet) and let it on the runway while thanking her for her concern. I always thought that if she ever went through a divorce she would be in for a big shock.

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Good for you!!!

If you were hell-bent on nasty revenge-type stuff, I might applaud someone who advocated restraint, but drama queens (who try to muddy up other people’s lives by encouraging them to create unnecessary disharmony) should NOT become Life Coaches. 😀

4. linbeth - August 12, 2013

Oh how I agree with every word of what you’ve written. People love to give me advice and then they get agitated and abusive when I don’t do what they say. But I do what’s right for me at that moment in time. I cannot be controlled by others and what they think I should be/do/say etc. I will always listen to advice but often toss it away because it applies more to the person giving it than to me. Great post, thanks 🙂

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Few of us require “interventions” from meddling busybodies who dish out heaping helpings of unwarranted advice. As you note, their life coaching often applies to their propensities, not ours.

You might enjoy this quote, a favorite of mine:

There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.

~ Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, ch. 31

linbeth - August 12, 2013

Yes, I do like that quote although, for me, courage is probably replaced by rebellion 🙂

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Courage and rebellion oft times go hand-in-hand. Just ask George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

5. Andra Watkins - August 12, 2013

People have offered me lots of advice on my writing journey. Almost like drinking from a fire hose. I often wonder where I’d be if I’d taken different advice, but that isn’t going to get me anywhere.

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

I crack up at all the conflicting advice about writing ~ e.g., “If you write, you need a blog to promote your work” vs. ”If you blog, you’ll have no time to write.”

We each need to feel our way for ourselves.

6. ericjbaker - August 12, 2013

Indeed. The fastest way to close someone’s ears is to start a sentence with “You should…”

Particularly when the speaker feels you ‘should’ be more offended or upset by something than you are.

“You should march back down to that store and demand a refund because you asked for all chocolate chip but they gave you chocolate chip and peanut butter!”

“But it turns out that I like the peanut butter ones better. It was a happy mistake.”

“But still, you should do that! You should be angry!”

“I don’t want to be angry. I’m really enjoying the peanut butter ones.”

“Well, if I were you, I’D march right down there and complain.”

“Good to know. Thanks.”

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

You should . . . give me one of those peanut butter cookies!!! :mrgreen:

Some people are in such a rush to take offense, they don’t even notice the happy accidents of life. I’m glad YOU do.

7. spilledinkguy - August 12, 2013

So… you would tell me if the lime-green and pink polka dot dress made my butt look big, right?!?!

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Bwahaha! I would tell you . . . in the nicest possible way! 😆

8. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 12, 2013

I am often astonished by the advice people give me.

“Never mind if angel clouds could hurt your kids (spun glass-type stuff on Christmas trees). If you love the looks of it, use it anyhow!” Really??

“Why don’t you just walk out on your boss. I would. He doesn’t have the right to make you work late without notice.” Excuse me? He does, you know. He’s the one who pays my salary. I could say no if I had to, but walk out on him…??

I wonder what I’ve ever said to them to make them think I would welcome this kind of advice.

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Unable to make enough BAD decisions in their own lives . . . some folks want to help us make AWFUL decisions too!

Quel idiotes!!!

9. dreamingthruthetwilight - August 12, 2013

How true . No one can ever gauge the premise of our choices as well as we can as long as we are ready to bear the consequences of our decisions, good or bad, There are people who would always want to lay the burden of their choices on others just so they can crib and blame later if something goes wrong. Ultimately , we are responsible for our lives and we should trust our intuitions.

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Yes! Some people do want to be able to lay the blame for their poor choices at someone else’s door.

When we learn to trust our “inner voice,” we hear the tailor-made advice our intuition offers, gaining confidence with each PERFECT decision we make. 😎

10. suzicate - August 12, 2013

We each have to follow our own souls no matter where other souls think we should go!

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Yes! Playing “Follow the Leader” only works well for lemmings. 😉

Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 12, 2013

Even then, not all that good for lemmings 😛

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

I love Urban Dictionary’s definition of a “lemming” . . .

A member of a crowd with no originality or voice of his own. One who speaks or repeats only what he has been told. A tool. A cretin. :mrgreen:

This article on the rodent ~ Lemmings Suicide Myth ~ pins the suicide myth on Walt Disney:


11. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 12, 2013

It just occurred to me that taking other people’s advice, good, bad, or ugly, is a choice. Every time we make a choice the responsibility for it is solely ours, no matter who came up with the original idea.

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Of course it is. And our mothers tried to instill the concept of personal responsibility in us at an early age:

Copy Cat Kid: “Why can’t I go to the XYZ??? Every one else is going to the XYZ. You’re MEAN!!!” 😛

Mom: “If your friends told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it?”

CCK: “I guess not . . . but it might be cool. Hey! I’ve got an idea, let’s go bungee jumping.”

Mom: “Over my dead body.”

12. Eric Tonningsen - August 12, 2013

What more can I say? You and I share mirrored views on this. Thanks for aligning my post with your excellent words. I very much like “True gift from the heart…”

Now go open that law practice!! 🙂

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

We do share mirrored views ~ using an internal barometer is SO MUCH EASIER than using others as an external benchmark for our life choices.

Your post gives people who are just tuning in to the “still silent voice” some great tips to gauge whether they’re headed the right way.

But I’m gonna have to pass on opening up a law practice. 😉

13. diannegray - August 12, 2013

It’s so incredibly easy for people to give advice because they don’t have to do it themselves.

The only time I’ve given ‘snappy’ (read as annoyed) advice is when a particularly nasty relative said to me that if I could write it must be easy and she could probably beat me in every writing award I enter. My advice to her was ‘please do, yes it’s easy, try it’. She tried and then realised it wasn’t as easy as she thought. In fact it was a dismal failure. Oh well, thems the breaks 😉

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Bwahaha! Good for you. She sounds a real treat.

Writing is EASY . . . writing well is MUCH HARDER. :mrgreen:

diannegray - August 12, 2013

LOL – so true 😉

nrhatch - August 12, 2013

Write on!

14. Grannymar - August 13, 2013

I just listen and say yes, but then quietly make up my own mind!

nrhatch - August 13, 2013

Perfect! Just smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave. 😀

15. William D'Andrea - August 13, 2013

What I find most annoying are politicians and political commentators who think they know what’s best for everybody, and engage in all kinds of political manipulations.

I remember a few years ago, some senior citizens were protesting certain Government policies, and were criticized for doing so, because they were receiving Government payments.

One commentator, I think it was Bob Bekel, actually said, “There’s supposed to be an ‘understanding’. They take they money, so they’re supposed to be quiet.”

My response was, “I was never informed that my Social Security and Medicare payments are a bribe. I didn’t read that on any of the forms I filled out. As far as I know, Medicare pays for my Doctor’s services; not for my silence or my vote.”

Besides, Government payments are not funded by the Democratic Party, but by taxes, which are paid by everyone regardless of his or her political affiliations.

nrhatch - August 13, 2013

The Government has a long way to go before it lives up to its moniker ~ “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

16. Booksphotographsandartwork - August 13, 2013

I am so glad to be a Lemming! Also very good to hear that courage and rebellion go hand in hand!

I like the one that said you need to have kids so you don’t run out of things to do with your time. How strange.

I can’t imagine life without kids and you can’t imagine life with kids. Oh my we are individuals. My second husband decided he couldn’t imagine life with kids after he asked for one. Bastard. But then again I am so very glad to have my daughter even though I went through heck in the beginning.

This makes me think back on something else. People need to be really carefull when giving extremely life changing advice. Divorce, marriage, abortion, no one else can ever say what someone else should do in these situations and they should never ever even go there. Deep down in our own soul we know the answer to those problems. How dare anyone ever offer their opinion without being asked. Even a parent. And even then it’s just an opinion to be discussed! Stand up for yourself!!!!! Make up your own mind!

nrhatch - August 13, 2013

I think you hit the nail on the head, Linda . . . the bigger and more life changing the decision, the more circumspect we need to be in suggesting what anyone else “should” do. Far better for them to weigh the pros and cons for themselves.

We are not here to live Cookie Cutter Lives.

17. bluebee - August 14, 2013

Advice is one thing, nagging quite another 😯
The word ‘should’ is a strange one – it’s often not meant as such.

nrhatch - August 14, 2013

Yes! Especially if the nag has no stake in the outcome. Perhaps they “should” learn to zip their lips. 😉

18. Perfecting Motherhood - August 14, 2013

I think it’s human nature to provide unsolicited advice. Especially inappropriate, nothing you want to hear, unproductive advice. 🙂

nrhatch - August 14, 2013

I think you’re right! Mothers and fathers offer up advice to their offspring and branch out from there. The rest of us hop on board with our own well-meaning (and misguided) advice.

It’s like a never ending carousel of “here’s what you should do.”

19. kateshrewsday - August 15, 2013

it requires such wisdom, Nancy, knowing when it is a good idea to learn from the experience of others and when to learn empirically…

nrhatch - August 15, 2013

It’s great to learn from the experience of others AFTER we’ve decided to pursue a specific course of action. It’s relying on others to make that initial decision that tends to cause problems.

20. jannatwrites - August 15, 2013

It makes some people feel better to offer their unsolicited advice. I let them do it. But it often makes me feel better to ignore it. (Not long ago, my husband made a comment that I should become a nurse. Nothing in my personality suggests this would be a good fit for me, so I asked him why. He answered: “because they make good money.” I told him, “Great. You go to school and become one!”)

nrhatch - August 15, 2013

Your husband and my mother! She gave me the same advice before I went to law school ~ overlooking my (quite-obvious-to-me) propensity to swoon at the sight of blood. :mrgreen:

21. shreejacob - August 16, 2013

Awesome and great advice!

nrhatch - August 16, 2013

Here’s to using our internal barometer!

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