Ways to not give advice

Much has happened to me in the time since my last post. There hasn’t been a lot of good in these last few months but there’s been at least one good thing to come out of it. That and a lot of other items will have to be discussed in another post.

Today i wanted to mention something that’s grated on me for years. In my younger years, i would have unleashed the firehose of apoplectic rage the moment they were said to me. But as i’ve gotten older, i’ve realized i have little to say because: 1) nothing interests me anymore and 2) nothing i say or do makes any difference to anyone- and i was stupid to ever think otherwise.

But the time has come for me to speak up about this. It comes from decades of frustration because of well intentioned yet thoughtless words from people. This entry will not make a difference to anyone nor is it intended to. It is entirely cathartic. If anyone that reads this happens to benefit from my thoughts, great.

As everyone knows, my life came apart at the seams in late October of 2012 because of someone else’s hubris, selfishness and insanity. Leading up to that time, i had allowed myself to compromise my ethics, my dignity, objectivity and self respect because my drive to love and be loved or, more accurately, to be given the illusion of love, is probably the one thing that will cause me to lose my perspective, to lose my objectivity and to surrender my self respect.

And recovering from that and regaining my self respect and objectivity has been the hardest thing i’ve had to endure and fight through- and in some ways, i still do.

In this process and, to be fair, well before that, people have often felt free to dole their version of advice by saying one of two things:

“You just need to get over her/ it.” or
“If I were you, I would… (insert extruded advice here).”

Stop it. Seriously— just fucking stop it.

Here’s why:

In the case of, “You just need to get over her/ it,” that’s just patronizing. Worse than that, it takes someones problems and trivializes them. Grief is grief. It doesn’t matter if that grief is the loss of a loved one through death or an emotionally violent breakup. You wouldn’t go to someone that’s buried one of their children and tell them, “You just need to get over them,” or going to a rape victim and saying, “You just need to get over that.”

You get the idea (at least you should). So don’t do it to me or to anyone else.

Seriously, if that’s your idea of giving advice, shut up. Your silence is far more valuable than your cruelty. If someone seems to dwell on an issue for longer than you think they should, try to figure out why. A difficulty to move on is often because that person has larger issues that issue is attached to, never found a path to closure and/or has fallen into despair.

Despair is the worst. Once you get to that level, your self perception is filtered through staring at a funhouse mirror that becomes more distorted and perverted the longer you look at it. It destroys your self image, your self respect, any belief that your life is worth living and eventually that death is the only way you’ll ever find salvation.

As for the other way that people try to help others by telling them how THEY would handle their problems, that is, “If I were you, I would…”, you can stop that too.

You’re not me. My experiences are mine as are my problems and challenges. I wasn’t just dropped into this place by some sort of magical helicopter that just inserted me into a corn maze of shit that you hold the magical solution to. I’m a fully realized and intelligent adult with a tapestry of experiences, values and decisions and for you to sit there and tell me how YOU would handle MY issues is just a whole new level of condescension.

So stop it. If you can’t engage someone and ask them to explain their situation and how they perceive it and then ask them what they think their options are before adding your thoughts, then shut up.

Furthermore, to sit there and assume that your experiences and your values can just be copied and pasted into someone else’s experiences and values is absolute fucking hubris. So if you’re that sort of person, try to imagine the absolute hardest thing you’ve had to endure- just sit back and stare at that place inside of yourself that saddens and/or terrifies you. Now imagine someone giving you advice that you didn’t ask for and it comes in the form of, “Well, if I were you, I would…”

So shut up. Your silence is far more appreciated than your cruelty.

And not to belabor the point but this is worth mentioning. I’m an INFJ. The description is just that, a description. It doesn’t define me nor is everything i do typical of an INFJ but INFJ’s (the rarest or 2nd rarest personality type) have a very, very complex way of negotiating the world. To believe you can project your values and solutions onto someone as complex as INFJ’s tend to be is a sure fire way to make that person retreat well beyond your influence… no matter how well intentioned it is.