ethnic pyschologist touching black depressed clients shoulder

Your Unsolicited Advice Isn’t Helping Anyone

Not too long ago, my friend and I had a conversation about giving unsolicited advice. As someone who enjoys giving advice (it’s one of the reasons why I write these blogs), I didn’t necessarily realize how giving unsolicited advice was harmful. Consciously, I thought I was being helpful, but unconsciously I may have believed I was the one with the answers. I never really asked if she had her own answers, or whether or not she wanted to get those answers on her own. In our relationship, I did little to maintain her autonomy in this regard. My need to “help” her was more about my ego than it was about being truly supportive.

The Mind of an Advice Giver

I didn’t notice this. Not even when talking to her about my unsolicited advice, I didn’t notice it. It really didn’t sink until did some research into the mind of a person who gives advice. A person who gives advice is a person who wouldn’t otherwise wouldn’t do so unless they didn’t believe that their advice was superior. I kind of checked the box on that. I have (hopefully had) a rigid viewpoint and thought that my perspective was obviously correct, or I wouldn’t be voicing it.

It’s kind of the world we live in. Some people offer unsolicited advice all the time. We call them influencers. They tell us the best way to do our jobs and the best way to exercise. There are influencers in every aspect of our lives. Their job is to share their opinions. In most cases, they share their opinions in a way that makes us believe that their perspective is the only perspective. I think with this blog, and this book, I got caught in that. Even after writing a blog about how I didn’t want to be an influencer. I’m learning just like everyone else. I think it’s part of the reason why I have a blog and feel uncomfortable with doing any other outlet. Blogs make it easier for people to search for the content I create. I’d rather do that than be intrusive.

We’re Not Here to Fix Problems

Instead of offering my insights, I should only be seeking insight. I also wrote a blog post about how true love is a form of therapy. The only duty to perform in this dialogue is to listen in hopes of uncovering more information. The point of the conversation is to express thoughts. A good listener is someone who uncovers perspectives that may be missing as the story is being told. It’s never to fix the problem.

Not to be gender specific, but the person who typically gives unsolicited advice is a guy, like me. Giving advice is a masculine quality. masculine energy seeks order. So much so, that order and control can trump a person’s feelings. A person may see another person crying. The initial thought is that this emotion is chaos and I must bring order by offering a solution. In actuality, this person only needs to be consoled. They just needed to fully express their emotions. It’s not the prerequisite for rationality. Yet we offer an answer, not because we believe that it will solve the problem, but because we are anxious.

To summarize, offering advice is a form of control. You read that right. When we give advice that no one asked for, we are either trying to control the person’s actions, the outcome, or the person’s emotions.

No One Asked

The reason why we don’t take unsolicited advice is that we lose our sense of autonomy. We are grown adults. We’ve spent way too much time receiving advice from parents and teachers. We don’t need it at our mature age. We want to be free, which means we don’t want to be controlled by the advice of another person’s perspective. We’d rather make a mistake and deal with the consequences as long as we know that it was our mistake. We don’t want the advice, nor do we need anyone telling us, “I told you so.” It took me a bit to learn that in my own case. I don’t want to be controlled by someone else’s story. That’s the reason why I write these blogs. I’d like to think these blogs are to help others, but in truth, they are to help me. I know I just have to do a better job of keeping my opinions in these text fields and if someone asks for my perspective.