Want My Advice?
Are you sure you need advice?
This post originated as a reply to a post by Shaunta Grimes that began with,
Everyone has a gift. I really believe that. In fact, most people have several of them.
Like, I’m good at making tacos and helping my kids calm down when they’re upset and figuring out what the third act twist will be in a movie before it’s half over.
But one of my best gifts is that I know what you should be doing.
Read the post here.
I wrote a response that was around 200 words. Then I decided to move my response over here because I haven’t read or written any posts on Medium all week. I added many words and paragraphs. Shaunta’s post ended up being a writing prompt.
Want my advice? Are you sure? Stop and ask yourself this:
Do I already have the answer?
I come back to this quotation a lot:
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
― Erica Jong
Sometimes when I want to ask an individual or group for advice, Jong’s statement pops into my head, and I ask myself, “Do I already know the answer?”
Typical human behaviours and traits:
- We know what we should do, but we don’t want to do it.
Potential reasons: We don’t want to do the work, we don’t want to feel the feelings, we don’t want to hurt others.
- We look for validation for what we know we should do, as if someone else’s approval matters.
- We look for validation for what not to do so that we can use that as an excuse to avoid responsibility for our decisions.
For example, “She told me not to.” or “He told me that my idea wouldn’t work.”
- We don’t trust ourselves or our judgment, which relates to external validation.
The need for validation
The need for validation is a human need. We crave approval, even if that approval is disapproval that agrees with our own. We seek confirmation from those we think will give it to us, and isn’t it sometimes frustrating when they don’t?
As I said above, sometimes seeking external validation is a way to avoid taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions.
It’s also a way to feel “normal”, to believe that we belong. Needs for normalcy and belonging have always been a part of the human experience, but in our world today, comparison is so much easier. Everyone looks like they have their shit together, but their curated lives on Facebook and Instagram don’t show the other moments. Writers’ perfectly crafted published pieces on Medium don’t show all the edits.
We’re all continually editing ourselves. We’re all searching for ways to be better.
Advice works best when you take it. You rarely need a second or third opinion.
You don’t need to crowdsource your life.
Whatever you feel, be assured that it is normal. You’re right where you need to be at this moment, especially if you ask yourselves the questions and learn from the moment. Questioning indicates a desire to learn.
To wrap up, if we ask someone to tell us what we should do, we often already know. Sometimes we do need direction, but that guidance is frequently within us whether we hear it or not, whether we recognize it or not.
Sometimes our inner guidance leads us to the person, book, podcast, song or another source that can help us — whether with a personal issue, life advice, career, writing, or other activities. We can’t ignore our inner voice when it tells us who can help us. If we hear a song lyric that resonates and feels like it was written for you to hear in that moment, we need to pay attention.
Maybe your inner guidance lead you to Shaunta’s writing.
We all need to take a few moments every day to check in with ourselves, and ideally, we need to return to our inner guidance system throughout the day.
For me, that starts with a morning meditation, nearly daily. The second part, though, I rarely remember. Furthermore, I think that my ego is sometimes afraid to stop, ask and listen.
We need to listen.
Yesterday I stopped myself mid-day to ask myself why I was overwhelmed and what I could do about it. I asked for help and guidance. The result is for another post. I will say, though, that I felt so much better after I stopped, asked, listened and applied. Perhaps I need an acronym for that.
“Stop, ask, listen” is different than “STOP, collaborate and listen.”*, although I suppose there is some collaboration with our inner selves going on.
*I’d embed a video of Vanilla Ice singing Ice Ice Baby, but I don’t want to infringe on copyright. You might already have the song going through your head, and you know how to Google.
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