If a friend asks you for your advice, do yourself a favor and don’t give it to them… unless you don’t want them as a friend anymore.

Consider these words from a former Facebook friend:

“I appreciate so many people wanting to… fix me? But going to YOUR church isn’t going to fix anything, re-watching/re-reading, movies & books about stuff I watched and read 10+ years ago isn’t going to fix me… And I’m not really into the bizarre self help seminars, webinars, YouTube videos, and so on.”

The more someone seeks advice, the less they really want it. The above quote illustrates this, which is one of life’s greatest contradictions. After reading his/her latest Facebook rant toward his/her well-meaning friends, I was reminded me about a famous line from the HBO series “Deadwood.”

It was was said by the character “Wild” Bill Hickock, who was addressing his good friend, Charlie Utter. You see, Charlie was trying to get Hickock to give up his self-destructive drinking and gambling habits. In an emotionally-charged moment between the two, “Wild” Bill says, “Can’t you let me go to hell the way I want to?” I believe this simple yet profound statement sums up what my friend above was trying to say about advice, solicited or otherwise.

From my experience, those seeming to “seek” advice – as well as those who seem to be in the most need of it – fall into one of four groups:

Group One, aka “the Venters:” Trapped in repetitive, dysfunctional relationships/situations, this group simply wants someone to listen. They bottle up their anger and resentment until they can’t take it any longer; then, they look for a sympathetic person to unburden themselves upon. After unburdening themselves, they’re able to return to their dysfunctional relationship/situation feeling refreshed and renewed. Don’t try giving them advice – like, “Why don’t find someone/something new that will help you be happy” – unless you never want to see them again.

Group Two, aka “the Blue Needies:” Ever feel like you’re a human dumping ground for a friend or family member’s woes? Chances are you have a Blue Needy in your life. Always down and depressed, these folks need someone to listen and tell them all the things they want to hear: “You’re right,” “You’re great,” “You’re awesome,” “He/she doesn’t deserve you,” etc. Try giving this group any advice and you’re likely to create some hurt feelings and maybe even experience some backlash from their wounded egos. (Note: the line between “Venter” and “Blue Needy” can become blurred at times.)

Group Three, the “Lost Souls:” If you like giving advice, you’ll love this group! The problem is, they’re a rare one, at best. After having done the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results, Lost Souls find themselves on the threshold of understanding that they might not have all the answers. This sometimes leaves them open to the possibility of hearing how they can change their approach to find the success they seek.

Group Four, aka the “Hellbound:” This is “Wild” Bill’s group. They’re committed to doing things their way even if it (most likely) means their own destruction. Trying to give these folks advice practically guarantees they’ll do the opposite. The best thing friends/family/lovers can do is stand back and allow the Hellbound to go down in flames… They won’t have it any other way.

So remember, no matter how screwed up some people’s lives are, they don’t want any advice on how to fix it… especially if they ask. And by “ask,” I mean everything from soliciting someone’s advice directly to various cries for help via social media. So the best advice that can ever be given is: don’t give advice. Trust me, you’ll be happier this way.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

  1. So I see where you are going with this blog topic, my fb post wasn’t about receiving advice that was not what I wanted to hear. I was just saying don’t push your self help, new age theories that make no sense nonsense on me. If I saw something they posted and found it intriguing or wanted to know more, I would have gone to them and asked about it. But since I watched The Secret and read all about the Laws Of Attraction theory many years ago any questions I would have had were answered long ago. The couple I posted about are not people I would vent to, confide in or seek advice from. I really only knew them socially, and haven’t even seen or really talked to them in years. Since finding… the universe and nature? I don’t exactly know what they found other than a whole lot of crazy. Whatever this church is they are going to, they have decided everyone else needs to go too. Or help open one in their area and become an “ambassador”. I was not singled out by them and their new insanity. I no longer hangout with the group of people I met them thru. I occasionally talk to a couple of them, and the last several conversations have been about this couple and their “Laws of Attraction”/Universe/nature s thread thumping. They are not trying to fix just me, they are trying to save the world with what boils down to wishful thinking blended with some Wiccan beliefs and mixed with generic self help motivational phrases with a new age overtone. Neither will actually give me any examples of what the Universe has given them. They will however go on and on about how life has never been better, they have never been happier blah blah blah. But as far as I can tell nothing the Universe has gifted them with is monetary, nor is it good health or career advancement, etc…They openly complain on FB about money issues and although are both in their early mid 30s seem to have a remarkable amount of health issues. They tell everyone who will politely listen that any part of their life that is bad or unwanted is of their own doing as a result of them choosing it. They preach that we control our own destiny and every second of every day of that destiny. They enraged everyone recently by posting that cancer and diseases such as Parkinson’s is the result of years of negative thinking, therefore a choice. Yet this past Nov. one of them had their gal bladder removed and ended up hospitalized after with sepsis. When I pointed out that apparently she had CHOSEN to get sepsis, since everything that happens in our lives or to us is our choice, I was completely ignored. I tried being nice about them posting a million things on my wall and the unsolicited inbox speeches on my life choices ( most of which were things that happened almost a decade ago, and were just basic life stuff that was not even negative ) instead of just deleting them like our mutual acquaintances did. My requests to stop fell on deaf ears and eventually resulted with me calling them out on it the other night which is what you read.

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