Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Let Me Say This About That

My mom and I were laughing about how no one wants our advice...even though we clearly have some great advice to give. But we laughed because we know darned well, we don't want to take other people's advice either! At least, not about the big things, the real things. We may take advice on how to accomplish a task, or become proficient at something. But not about the important things.

Here's the thing about advice-giving: we aren't qualified to do it. Because we have not been in the exact situation of any other person ever. We have not felt their emotions the way they feel them, because every human's emotional makeup is as unique as their finger print. Even within a family, the notion each member holds of life and how to live it is different.

"If I were you..." is a goofy way to begin a sentence. Because we have no way of knowing what in the world we would do if we were them. We've never been them. I had a friend, long ago, who said that to me so often, I even rolled my eyes now, years later, as I typed it.

So...let me say this about that: I love learning things from other people. I love hearing their experiences. I love discovering their strengths. I love witnessing their hope. But good boundaries require me to interpret their truth through my own filter. It's work I'm obligated to do to be honest with myself and true to my own identity. That can be hard to do with someone you really admire, or someone you have subconsciously put on a pedestal.

When difficulty strikes, when life gets challenging, or downright hard, it is good to be able to lean on each other. It is a gift to be there to help when someone needs it. And it is very good to remember that we help each other the most when we give freely, with no strings attached, with no expectations.

In many 12 step rooms I've heard the phrase, "Take what works and leave the rest". What an amazingly respectful seven word sentence.  I like it so much, I'll just say this about that: there are many things I can't control. My own behavior is about the only thing, and sometimes it's a quacking duck. But it is empowering to realize that we are not obligated to take advice, or give it!

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