advisory

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was struggling to make up my mind, so I asked his advice.  He gave me an answer and a reason, neither of which I liked.  I dug my heels in, offering my argument against his perspective.  His frustration filled the room, but when I was done talking, his tone was deliberately calm.  “Why do you ask me for advice, if you’re only going to argue with my answer?  Do you realize how often you do that?!”  I was young and overwhelmed, so I just abandoned all reason and fell into crying.

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This business of taking advice seems like tough territory to me.  I am very grateful for getting called out in that conversation – I was twenty-something at the time, and it really made me stop and notice what I hadn’t even  known I was doing.  It helped me understand that if I ASKED someone for advice, I owed it to them to listen thoughtfully and at least give the idea serious consideration.  It might not always be a slam dunk that I should take the advice, but if I’m just going to argue with every answer…well, maybe I need to reconsider the whole business of pretending to ask (after all, isn’t it only pretending, if you’re only ever going to argue?)

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We are so sure we are right sometimes, aren’t we?  We see what looks like an answer to someone’s problem, and we are filled with urgency – I must tell him!  Our motives might be good, or at least seem good, to begin with.  But if you bring your unasked-for advice and then explode when the receiver politely declines to follow it?  You might need to check your motives.  I have found myself in this position too many times, filled with rage that my unsolicited advice hasn’t been snatched up like manna from heaven.  I can’t speak for everybody, but for ME, pretty much every single one of those times, I had a control issue or a manipulation problem.  Every.  Single.  Time. 

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I think about this “advice” business often, when I write.  I have found that even if I am only sharing my journey, often others perceive it as advice, or even as correction.  That’s an uncomfortable place for me, as I tend to avoid offering advice as if it were the plague.  This is largely because of my own resistance to advice (though the more I mature, the more readily I give serious consideration to advice, whether I sought it or not.)  It is also because I feel like I’m the LAST person who should be advising – I am She Who Always Learns the Hard Way.  So it’s easy to imagine that I don’t have wisdom to share. 

Nonetheless, lately I occasionally have some small nugget to share with someone who has sought that from me.  So I am learning to proceed with caution, with grace, and with full understanding that my message may or may not be embraced.  On the list of things I love about being 47:  you can blow off my advice and I’ll still love you – like you, even! – just as much.

Growth.  It’s awkward.  But it’s good.

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