My phone vibrated against my metal desk, making a clamoring sound against the shaking steel top. I looked down at the screen to see a text from a close friend.
“I did something really stupid. I need your advice.”
This was not the first time I’d received a text like this from one of my friends, and it wouldn’t be the last.
The ‘something stupid’ had to do with her boyfriend and an argument between the two of them.
We’ve all been in this type of situation. Someone close to us has done something that he or she isn’t proud of and in turn asks us how to maneuver around it. We get the chance to play God as we take a bird’s eye view of someone else’s life and point out everything they’re doing wrong. It’s what we like to call giving advice, which is highly preferred over calling it secretly judging others while thinking about how much better my life is.
I’d like to think that I give pretty good advice, at least good enough that my friends keep coming back and asking for more of it. And when they come to me they know they can expect one thing: tough love. I will tell you exactly how I feel and everything that you probably don’t want to hear, no sugarcoating included. My friends seem to appreciate my openness and typically follow my advice, whether it be to dump the guy, swallow their pride, or quit their job.
But, even as a person who gives a lot of advice and sees other people’s paths so clearly, I rarely follow my own advice. This seems to be a general flaw within our human nature. We are so quick to judge others and direct them along, yet we fail at properly directing ourselves.
Do you seem to have all of your friends’ lives figured out to the T, yet lack the ability to navigate your own? Do you tell your friends one thing even though you know you’re guilty of doing the opposite? Herein lies the problem. We’re all such good advice-givers, yet not so much advice-takers. If we started following some of the advice that we give to the people we care about, maybe we wouldn’t need to ask for so much advice in return.
Everything looks so much clearer when you’re looking from the outside in, but maybe it’s time to admit to ourselves that we can fix some of our own problems without even asking for help. We know the answers; we just don’t want to accept them. In my friend’s case, she knew she had done something wrong, but she didn’t want to take credit for her mistake.
You know better than to let your friend be involved in an emotionally abusive relationship or lead on someone who he or she doesn’t care about, so why do you do the same things? We feel powerful and important when we can solve others’ problems, however, we feel helpless against our own similar roadblocks. We might even look down on a friend for his or her problems because we know better but then end up in the same situations, not because we didn’t know better but because we didn’t want to listen to our own advice and voice of reason.
It’s fun to play God and set another person straight in his or her way, but our advice means nothing if even we don’t follow it. Who’s going to take your word if even you don’t? It’s time to start taking in the advice we’re dishing out; I have a feeling we’ll be glad we did.