Not unless they’ve asked for it. How to stop giving it.
Photo Art by Katie Dutch
I'm the Queen of unsolicited advice. How did I earn this unenviable title? Well, it’s a carefully crafted method of assuming that if you’re talking to me about your love life, you want my opinion on everything you’re doing wrong.
You’ll be shocked to hear that it often falls on deaf ears. Why ever could that be?
Because they weren’t asking for my advice!
We all have that friend or family member who tries to fix everything for us. You can’t mention your knee giving you trouble without them telling you what supplement to take, article to read, and doctor to see.
Mention a recipe you were thinking of trying and they’ll tell you what ingredients you should really use and the cookware you simply HAVE to buy in order to make it perfect. Because don’t you want it to be perfect? Don’t you?!
Do unsolicited advice-givers want to help or control? Eh, a little bit of both. We mean well! We don’t want to see our loved ones hurting and if we know something that will help them we want to share it.
We also want to stop our pain caused by hearing you complain when you keep making the same choices and getting the same bad results.
You’re in a dumpster fire of your own creation and you keep knocking down the fire extinguishers I keep throwing at you.
We become way too invested in your life and trying to solve your problems because we’ve now taken them on as our own. Codependence? Probably. Issues on both sides? For damn sure. But you can only control yourself and your actions. And therein lies the first step.
Stop giving advice unless asked for it
Have a conversation. Let them vent. Hold fast and clench your teeth as you hold back your pearls of wisdom. Steady yourself as you strain to keep your eyes from rolling all the way into the back of your head.
Keep your ears peeled for those magic words, “What do you think?”
There’s your green light! Throw down your truths from Mt. Smarty Pants Experience and then recede back into the shadows.
It’s not your job to fix their problem
Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Center yourself. And let go. Remain emotionally detached. Refocus all your energy back into yourself.
Does that sound like hippie-dippy nonsense? That’s because it is! Except it’s not nonsense. Ever seen a stressed hippie? There’s a reason. And this is it.
You are only responsible for maintaining your own emotional peace and wellbeing. Make it your top priority.
Why don’t they listen to my advice?
Because they’re not done hurting. We learn when we’ve had enough. You have to let them hurt because it’s how we grow and evolve.
When they’ve had enough of hurting themselves they’ll listen and want to change. This is that “rock bottom” you hear about.
Assaulting them with unasked for opinions is only going to push them away, piss them off, and possibly end your friendship. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then dial it back.
They’re just making conversation
Maybe they aren’t looking for advice or suggestions. Maybe they were just, you know, having a conversation about something they were interested in.
Sharing. Relating. Connecting. Regular non-advice asking stuff.
Try actively listening. Listen without trying to come up with a response. Listen without trying to figure them out. Focus on them and their words like you’re watching a river pass you by.
Sometimes people just need to vent. It’s a great way to process your emotions, clear out the murk, and turn up the volume on your intuition. You can rob them of their self-discovery when you come barreling in with your unsolicited advice blaring on a bullhorn.
How do you keep yourself sane?
If they’ve asked for your advice but ignore it and continue to whine and complain that their same old choices are giving them the same bad results, then you cut them off mid gripe.
“I really don’t have any advice to give you. I’m kind of tired of telling you what to do and you not listening so I’m just going to let you do your thing and when you’re tired of being tired, I’m here for that.”
Stop over-investing yourself in others' lives. Find a different hobby because you have too much time on your hands.
Write about it
Journal your frustrations. Clack it out on your laptop. Share your brilliant, burning advice online where people who want it can seek it out. If you can’t help your stubborn friend, maybe you can help someone else.
Ask yourself why
Why is giving advice your go-to method of talking to people? Are you trying to prove your value and worth? “Hey, look! I’m smart and useful, please keep me around! Look at all I can do for you!”
Are you trying to control your environment? Maybe you feel out of control in your own life and it feels easier to try and control others, to focus on trying to change their behavior to make you more comfortable, calm and at ease.
Maybe you’re giving advice as a way to distract yourself from your own problems and feelings. It’s much easier to focus on anything outside of you than to sit down and be quiet with yourself and let those scary feelings bubble up to the surface.
As I check all my social media feeds for the 15th time.
If you tune in and get comfortable with yourself, put down the bullhorn and listen to what your intuition is asking you for help with, maybe you wouldn’t be so eager or even interested in giving advice to anyone anymore.
I mean, I’m pretty sure that’s my problem and my solution. Give it a whirl. That’s my advice.
Listen to your friends and family members. Love them. Sympathize. Empathize. And keep your trap shut until they ask for your sage advice on what they’re going through.