Giving advice, taking advice. It's a funny thing. I tread lightly around the subject--since if you give someone advice and it's wrong (and they follow it), that's not good. And if you take someone else's ill-considered advice, you could end up worse off than you were before.
Around my office there is a group of women who eat lunch together and talk in the kitchen. One in particular constantly gives out advice (this is the same person whose husband is studying for the ministry and I debated briefly about evolution and the age of the earth. She's in the 6000 years old camp.) Her advice is quick and sure--"you can't let him do that"--"you've got to put a stop to that..." Uninvolved in their conversation, sometimes I chuckle to myself, thinking that if life were that easy, we'd all be in fine fettle. I can't understand how she can judge a person's problems, solve them, and feel capable of giving out advice in under five minutes.
I only give advice if I'm quite sure of the subject, and I often do a little research "just to be sure." And even then I'm reluctant to suggest what another person should do, and only give advice if absolutely necessary. And as for taking advice--I'm generally too hard-headed to know what's good for me--and surely too much so to think that other people might know it--so that's another tricky subject.
I will add that I have learned that if my dear, honest, intelligent husband (who doles out advice to me the way I do to others--rarely and carefully) actually asks "would you like my advice?" I do two things: (1) begin re-thinking through what I'm about to do, and (2) say yes and listen. My nature is to not want to take advice, but I have learned over the years that if my husband speaks up, he always has a point, always has my best interests at heart, and, more often than not, he's about to stop me from doing something I will probably later regret. So even if I really don't want to, I take his advice. And, time after time, year after year, I look back and know he's been right.
What brings this up? A friend of mine sends out a daily message (I've mentioned it here once before) which usually contains a daily inspirational thought from a "motivational expert." Not one to get all excited about motivational experts, I usually skim over it. But yesterday's message contained this:
"If you were someone else, what advice would you give yourself? If you could step back from being you, and look objectively at what you're doing and how you're living, what changes would you recommend?
It's easy to imagine the straightforward advice you'd give to someone else, because you don't have to follow that advice. Now imagine applying that same level of honesty and objectivity to your own situation."
It made me think. Is there any simple advice I should give myself? What have I been missing that I might simply have known all along? Am I too close to the situation to see the forest? Has my connection to my own journey made me less than honest in my self-evaluation? (I accept loss of objectivity, it's the nature of the self.) But, should I try to step back and be objective? What would I tell myself if I did?
Perhaps to take some steps out into the direction or directions I might want to move. To not let fear stop me from moving forward. To believe, trust, have faith. To get the stuff done that I know must be done in order to move forward. To listen to that little voice which might be hinting at opportunities yet to be seized. To look for feelings inside myself, learn to identify them and see where they lead.
What about you? Any advice?