Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Advice On Taking Advice

Anonymous asks...

I've had this problem lately where my friends and family have been giving me advice on how to improve my social life, business plans, and so forth, but instead of being helpful it's just made me feel defensive and stubborn.  How can I make it so that I can benefit from well meaning attempts at help instead of being insulted?
Anytime anyone talks to us, they are submitting an application to affect us in some way. A salesman is submitting an application to persuade us. A friend submits an application to make us happy. A complete jerk submits an application to destroy our self-esteem. A preacher submits an application to uplift us. And a teacher submits an application to educate us.

Once an application is submitted we put it through a review process and then decide what power to give the applicant. Too many times we make mistakes during this review. We end up only giving the preacher the power to bore us, the friend the power to offend us, and the jerk the exact power he was applying for.

Since you aren't asking me how to shut your friends up or what supplies you need to become a hermit, I'll assume that you believe your friends want to help you. So, during the review process you are receiving their application to help make your life better, but instead of giving them that power, you give them the powers to offend, criticize, boss around, and stick their noses where they just plain don't belong.

I'm no psychologist, so I can't say why we do this. I just know that we do. It must be related to a suppressed inner child or something else I know nothing about. Anyway, it happens when we put the review process on autopilot and let our emotions or subconscious call the shots.

So, the secret is to allow your conscious mind to take over again. When your friends or family give you some unsolicited advice, ask yourself what power they are applying for. Why are they saying what they're saying? Then you can decide what power to give them. If they want to help, advise, inspire, uplift, or entertain you, by golly give them what they want! If they want to control, depress, weaken, or harm you, DON'T give them those powers, but instead give them the power to make you laugh. Laugh it off! They can't affect you if you don't allow them to.

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