I spent a lot of years listening to, and following, the advice of others.
Some of that came from a lack of confidence, the disbelief that I could know what was best to do. Some of it came from a perverse way of escaping responsibility. Failing while doing what someone else told me to do kept the failure less mine, I think. A third piece was that, in general, we hear people share a slice of what’s going on, and believe they are asking for help. And generous souls that we are, we are willing to offer a fix.
With the dee-vorce, and subsequent period of self-growthy-ness, I came to the understanding that I not only could, but needed to, follow my own instincts in figuring out what I needed to do in any given situation. Very difficult to establish these new habit patterns after years of doing it differently.
Understandably petrifying to try. Incredibly self-esteeming to do.
It was very helpful that my 12-step group supports its members in this fashion. We put our stuff out there and others listen. That is all, just listen. Someone may share their own experience, strength, and hope that may relate, but never in a manner that tell the other what they ‘should do’. Never in giving advice.
I got used to that, of sharing with that kind of people, those that would listen, really listen without giving advice. Just hearing my feelings and my experience for what it was.
It’s a gift. And maybe not so much the habit of the real world.
I remember going to work one morning and visiting with a co-worker, whom I liked a lot. We had kids about the same ages. She had been very supportive through my way-down-lows of the dee-vorce. I admired a lot about her life survival skills. And her life was that…a story of survival. This morning I was telling her of something one of the daughters had done that had perhaps illustrated a bit of a lack of judgment and/or maturity.
She listened. Then she started with, “Well, what you need to do (pointing her finger at me) is to tell her…”
There was a time in my life when I might have listened with grave attentiveness.
At this point I had reached a place where I was sort of taken aback. And recognizing why was a victory in itself.
Well meaning and loving people still give advice, and some is very good advice indeed. And sometimes, probably way too often, I offer it, much to the Offspring’s chagrin.
I still maintain that sometimes the best gift given is that of just listening, of hearing what one has to say.
Sometimes, that’s all that is needed.
3 months ago