Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Unsolicited Advice

Sometimes, I just can't let things go. I'm like a dog with a bone that way.

I recently received a great deal of unsolicited advice, opinions and comments from a number of people, all of whom had great intentions. Yet, I ended up feeling frustrated, miserable, stressed, and quite angry at them. While I knew they had my best interests at heart, it was hard for me to be at peace with their actions. 

I will also go on to say that the number of people offering their advice and opinions did indeed play into the sinking feeling I had because, at the same time, a relationship I was in was disintegrating and their advice and opinions had to do with the relationship and the other man involved.

While I had shared some of my frustrations around the relationship, which admittedly was new for me, and quite different from what I envisioned for myself, (and what they saw for me) I also tried to share with my friends what positives I was getting from the relationship, which seemed to fall on deaf ears.

I eventually talked out my frustrations with many of those who had offered their unsolicited advice, comments and opinions, yet I am still rankled by it. I had also talked it out with my therapist and came to accept that the advice was offered with my best interests at heart. Yet, I couldn't drop it. And I couldn't understand why.

Maybe this post will help.

I did a little research on why people might offer advice/opinions without being asked. And these are the following reasons most therapists offer:

  1. Altruism-the adviser might offer advice simply because they truly believe it will help out, it is within their nature.
  2. Friendliness-perhaps a stranger might offer advice/opinion to start a conversation or a friend might want to forge a stronger connection.
  3. Excitement-a friend was in a similar situation and found a solution that helped him/her and therefore it should also work for you.
  4. Needing to be Needed-the adviser might simply feel the need to be needed, maybe due to their expertise.
  5. Feeling Helpless-the adviser sees their friend as unable to solve their own problem and wants to help solve their friend's unhappiness.
  6. Sick of Hearing of It-the adviser sees their friend as not taking any constructive steps to correct the situation, which is what the adviser would do, so they "encourage" a solution to stop their friend from continuously emoting.
  7. Narcissism-the adviser just likes to pontificate, or feels the need to be the "leader".
  8. Dominance-the adviser likes to be in charge in any relationship dynamic.
  9. Judgment-the adviser sees something about their friend they don't like or approve of and feels the need to change it.
  10. Drama-the adviser loves drama, conflict or debate, and always seems to have a need to express their advice/opinion. This may be a conscious or unconscious desire.
The first three do indeed come from a good place-meaning those individuals truly wanted to help out of kindness; the last three are from a much darker place-the motives are less kind-and the perpetrators might not even be consciously aware of their motives; while the middle four are from a gray area with somewhat nebulous motives.

Yet, one piece of research I did not find was how the recipient felt about the unsolicited advice/opinions. This would indeed be hard to document, as it would be left up to each individual recipient to determine their own feelings at the time the advice was offered.

I have also come to believe it depends on the source and type of advice. I recently received some advice from perfect strangers regarding purchases I made; I recently bought a bunch of tulips and was told to put some pennies in the water to help keep them from drooping. I also recently purchased a Fitbit tracker, and the cashier commented on it saying she and her boyfriend loved theirs-coincidentally the same model as mine-and she thought I would truly come to enjoy mine as well. I simply thanked both of these people and went about my business. I think I'm having such a hard time with the advice from my friends, because it also happened during an emotionally difficult time for me and in a very sensitive area of my life-a very challenging relationship that showed a lot of potential. Yet, I sensed there was even more to my discomfort.

I was once advised by my therapist to pay more attention to what people do than to what they say. While these people may truly want me to be happy, their comments, advice and opinions were actually contradicting it. Their wanting me to be happy didn't seem to coincide with what they were actually saying, which only added to my confusion and overall emotional state. "Yes, I want you to be happy, but you can't be happy with him. He can't meet your needs." The fact that they actually voiced their opinions weighed more heavily than the words themselves.

A few of my friends stated they didn't trust or believe the young man I was trying to develop a relationship with. They don't have to. I never asked them to. Yet, offering this unsolicited opinion suggests that I, too, shouldn't trust or believe him and therefore I have no idea what I am doing. 

When I shared with a friend I was angry at the end of the relationship, I was asked if I was angry with myself for not seeing what everyone else saw-the young man's faults. Again, this implies I was too naive, innocent or stupid to see what was so painfully obvious. To them. Yet, they formed their advice, opinions and comments on only a tiny fraction of the much larger picture.

Perhaps, it's best to call it for what it is. An opinion is a type of judgment. While my friends believed, out of their love for me, that they were expressing an honest opinion on something they saw that was frustrating me, they were also forming a judgment against this young man, and ultimately against me for choosing to be with him.

There, I've said it. I felt judged. By my friends, and that's what hurt the most.

We each walk our own path, which crisscrosses, intersects, and sometimes parallels others' paths. While many people will question their friend's choices, it is no one's right or duty to express their advice or opinion on such a personal matter, unless specifically asked. We do not know why the Universe/God/Spirit has brought a particular individual into our life, or much less into our friend's life. To avoid any bad karma, or at the least to avoid bad feelings among friends, perhaps it's best not to say anything. At all.

Unless specifically asked.

No comments:

Post a Comment