Has it happened to you? Recently, a few times over, I’ve posted on social media – not a question, mind you, not asking for help – and the wisdom poured in, “This is the way to do it.”
Of course, if you’re a pregnant woman, or a mother with a new baby, even better, all you need to do is step outside your door…so as a mother of four I’m already an expert in the nod and smile technique.
But truth? I’m fed up. There are few things more irritating to me than unsolicited advice, on social media or IRL. You know why it really bugs me, and why I never, never, never give my opinion unless asked (and even then, I may hesitate)? Because it presumes the person on the receiving end is less. Because it is an attempt at control over something that quite frankly has nothing to do the kind advisor.
Now I know people mean well, they really do. (If you’ve done this to me, I love you, and I don’t hold a grudge. But equally, please stop.) I know you’re wanting to be helpful, to share your experiences. This is a great thing. If you’re a friend of mine, you very likely have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. I really welcome that sharing when you frame it as your own experience, not as unsolicited advice.
Because seriously, we need to knock this nonsense on its head. If you are in the helping professions, please understand, no one is going to listen to unsolicited advice (least of all me). Giving advice where it’s not been asked for will be, at best, an irritation. At worst can be devastating to someone in a tough place who is already doing the best they can.
Please, please, please if you are knowledgeable and want to share that knowledge, offer it up in the right way, as the gift it is, where it’s welcome – when someone has asked you for it.
In all cases, let’s start by acknowledging the people we meet as whole human beings, with stories and complex life experiences of their own, and with full responsibility for their own lives and well being. Whether or not we understand them, or whether or not we know what these are.
One of the most powerful teachings I’ve been given as a healer is that we’re not here to make people better. We’re here to see from the beginning the wholeness that is already there. (What this means for you if you come to work with me is, I’ll never look down on you. I’ll never pretend I know more than you about your life, your struggles, or your path. I will honour what you bring, and be your number one ally and supporter. And *if* you ask my opinion, I’ll offer it so that *you* can decide what’s right for you.)
When we begin from a place of wholeness and respect, giving space to the experiences of others and their capacity to handle them, we can create much more genuine interactions with powerful positive impact.
But telling me what to do when I’ve not asked you? It’s disrespectful, and a turn off. Please knock it off.