“The Truth” was today’s Just For Today meditation, and when I shared in today’s meetings, I talked about how frustrating it is when people give unsolicited advice, especially when they are unsuccessful at the thing they’re giving me advice about.
One of the men in the meeting said how he lives in a group home where he can’t get a word in, and people are speaking AT him all the damn time. He then said something that made me learn something – and of course I had to be willing to listen in order to hear the message – he’s just had to learn the patience to bear it.
While I understand that people are all suffering and acting out in ways to manage as best as they can, it’s always been a trigger of mine when people tell me what to do, especially when I never asked in the first place. That to me is right up there with actually asking for help (SO hard for me to do) and then getting blown off.
Right now I’m dealing with both – I’m getting unsolicited advice from people that didn’t help when I asked, and yet now when I’m not asking for it, they’re giving me cracker jack wisdom, sending me memes, and “trying to help.”
It took all day for me to reach this conclusion – I can’t expect that shit to stop. It’ll just keep coming. Even if I delete my Facebook, erase all my numbers, and stop speaking with people altogether, invariably someone will come along and give me unsolicited advice.
I took enough of it at my last job when I was advised on whom I should or shouldn’t be involved with (from dating to my fucking social circles), how I should dress, and how authentic I was allowed to be. Sure, I was afraid of losing my job, so I played along as well as I could.
It made me sick.
However, I still get that now. My friend Sasha, rest her soul, once told me (in her awesome Oklahoma drawl), “Karen, I’m over 60 years old and my mother is over 80, and she STILL tells me what to do!”
Previously I thought it was just a mother thing, but it’s also something that people do to just feel better about themselves. There are skaters who give LOTS of unsolicited advice to people of ALL levels, whether the recipient is more skilled OR less skilled. People think they’re “helping” when in fact it’s really criticism, but they don’t see it that way.
“I was just trying to help!!”
UGH! It’s critique!
While it can be immensely frustrating, I’m learning to just bear it. I can’t change it, but I can be kind and thank the person for what I believe to be their intent – to support me. If I face their insecurities with my own, I’m only feeding into it. If I appreciate the intention, then maybe it’ll help them.
Sometimes I just have to ignore it, because I’m human and I can only handle so much. Again, I get frustrated when I’ve asked someone for help and they’ve ignored me, and yet they’re happy to give help when I don’t think I need it.
Today I talked about how I want to be humble to God’s will and keep my ego in check. Perhaps those folks that come to me to try to “help” are actually reaching out to me, projecting that which they themselves need.
However, I’m no Holden Caulfield, and I realize I can’t save them all.
What I am finding is that I don’t have to advise people, I just have to be myself. People who want my assistance approach me, I don’t have to reach people one-on-one and freely give advice. I’ve actually had to apologize on several occasions for doing this. Of course I’ve given out unsolicited advice – the shit I was talking about was exactly what I needed to tell myself to do, but it’s SO much easier telling another person to do it than to do it myself!
Ain’t THAT some shit!
When I first started going to meetings – and it still happens now from time to time – I wanted to help everyone in those rooms. I wanted to fix their problems, or at least just tell them they’re okay, they’re human, that it’s alright and they’ll bounce back. Now, I know to just listen; not to think of what to do or say, but just listen.
People just need to talk. For the most part, they already know what they need to do, and they just have to feel, go through the motions, and just vent. Many times they work it out, but they just need to express themselves to let it out.
If we interrupt that process, then what they’re hearing is they’re not in charge and for addicts especially, we’ll go in direct defiance of being told what to do, and end up hurting ourselves out of spite and pride.
So, there are two things at play here. First, I want to keep working on humility to be of service and to act on God’s will for me, not on what I think I should be doing or who I think I need to be. Second, to discontinue taking things so damn personally, thinking that this person’s advice is designed to knock me down.
Even if it is designed to be that way, we can’t make it personal if we don’t take it personal.
Saying this and knowing it is one thing, actually living it is another.
I’ll keep going to meetings, listening, and get as much input as I can, and decipher what to implement, and what to throw aside. As a fellow recovering addict has advised me, “you can pick it up, but you don’t have to carry it with you.”
I think Erykah Badu would agree here.