Thoughts about Advice Giving

This was my email horoscope today:

You may find yourself facing numerous situations that require you to think quickly and make spur of the moment decisions today. Thus, you will likely have many opportunities to make the most of your decisive mood. Whether your choices are concerned with your personal well-being, finances, or relationships, know that you can rely on the competent guidance of your intuitive mind for direction.”

It could not have been more perfect. I had already been writing my blog post in my head before I saw the email and it goes perfectly with what I want to write about here. You might disagree with what I’m about to say and you might even get a little bit angry but I have learned that in life it is best not to give advice or “helpful suggestions” unless you are directly asked for your opinion. Even then you have to choose your response carefully, and yet, here I am giving you this advice!

When someone tells you that you “should do this” or you “must do that”, they are just repeating what they were always taught or what they have found to be true for them. Maybe you need to learn something by making the “wrong” decision. On the other hand, you really might know exactly what you need to do.  Sometimes, explaining why you are doing things a certain way is hard to do, too personal or too complicated. There are details they might not know and you might not want to go into with them.

I find that as I’m making decisions about moving, friends and family are full of emotions, opinions and advice about every aspect of my decisions. They are speaking to me as if I know nothing and have not experienced anything in life. Their feedback is often negative and cautionary. They make me second guess my intuition. It’s dangerous for me to doubt myself because I have excellent intuition.

I was thinking about how we do this with our children even when they are adults. We do it with all of those close to us. We want them to be spared the pain we endured in a similar situation or we are terrified of even trying to do what they are attempting. We don’t want them to hurt or make wrong turns and yet we have made so many in order to become the wise beings we are today.

Perhaps a supportive comment is all that’s needed like “I have faith in your ability to figure this out”, or “you always seem to know what you need to do next”. The comments need to be sincere. Think about what that person’s strengths are or times in which they have gotten through something difficult and really impressed you with their strength and wisdom. Then tell them that you admire them because of how they have handled the big decisions in their life. That might actually cause them to hug you instead of avoiding you.


Author: Debbie Simon-14

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in practice for 30 years. I combine years of experience in medical and psychiatric settings with a little bit of humor to come up with ideas for this blog. I lived in Brooklyn and NYC most of my adult life and raised my 2 sons there. From 1989-1992 I lived as an expat in Tokyo, Japan. I moved to CT in 2010 and after 6 years here I have decided to move west to a warmer climate. My interest in "this stage of life" stems from an observation that there is a lack of research and information on this developmental stage. Since baby boomers have always set the pace for future generations, the value of our lives between 50 and 70 years of age is just starting to gain some attention. Many clients in this age group who I've worked with in recent years have experienced agism in the work place, lay offs, foreclosures of their homes and financial concerns for the future. The retirement that our parents may have enjoyed is becoming a thing of the past. My hope is that this blog might strike a chord for some who are making their way through this leg of the journey with the same resilience, positivity and grit that they got through all of life's challenges with.

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