Making Sense out of Unhelpful Advice

making sense out of unhelpful adviceThe media is full of experts giving people advice. They tell men how to be caring parents, loving partners, good providers, and supportive friends. When you go to others with your tales of woe, they feel compelled to relieve your distress. Unfortunately, most people are not qualified to diagnose or treat these problems. They have no expertise, no competence in these areas.

So when your closest, most trusted advisers feel inadequate to cope and unable to solve your problems, they deliver clichés as the solution. They think to themselves: “I have done something. At least I didn’t stand there like a dummy.” These confidants make up well intentioned responses because they don’t really know how to address emotional problems. However, now that you realize that they can’t scratch where it itches, you can stop relying on them for solutions. The problem is most of it doesn’t work and it doesn’t help. It prescribes a goal, but doesn’t tell you how to remove the obstacles that keeps you from achieving success.

For instance take the saying: “change yourself and everything else will change.” That’s the easy part, the hard part is knowing what to change from and what to change to. What’s harder is knowing how to bring about that change in ways that will be effective. They are offering useless advice to maintain their own ego. The solution is phony; it does not exist. It is not a solution. As soon as you realize that the advice was given for them and not for you, you are free to disengage from it. You no longer have any responsibility to accept what is being presented and can look elsewhere for solutions.

Much of the advice you think is helpful, actually has the opposite effect. It makes the situation worse and causes people to feel angry or misunderstood. The following are some examples of the advice you received that doesn’t help:

1) “You have only yourself to blame.”

Here you have been told to teach others to assume more responsibility for a problem that has already happened. However, this remark focuses on who is to blame and fosters feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and inferiority. This remark accuses you of causing your own problems and by criticizing you failure to succeed, you feel less competent to achieve. You get angrier then you were before, you lash out and conflict ensues.

2) “It’s their fault.”

This comment implies is that the issue is with finding fault. This speaks directly to how men approach problem solving. Find out who is doing it and force them to stop. Problem solved. However, this issue isn’t about finding fault and stopping it from occurring. The issue is human imperfection. Humans make mistakes and worry about causing painful outcomes. The blame and accusations are smoke and mirrors to avoid the reality that no one is perfect. People cannot be made less imperfect by blaming others.

3) “It was not good enough.”

This is a way of saying, “I am judging you. I cannot accept you until you achieve the degree of perfection that I determine sufficient.” So you are set up to fail. How can you assume responsibility to fulfill the impossible expectation of being perfect? If men are trying to prove their superiority, it implies they are currently inferior. By trying to please others and prove yourself, you only maintain and perpetuate your emotional pain.

Giving advice photo available from Shutterstock

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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