Posts Tagged ‘advice’

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.

I might not be professional life coach but I play one on social media!

I give the best advice on Facebook. Seriously. Whenever a friend is feeling down, I’m the first one to offer scads of advice drawn from the deep and ever-plentiful well of my own misery. My friends are equally as helpful… even if it’s just the same old well-worn phrases such as “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or “You just gotta hang in there, J.P.” While I appreciate all this online love, it does have me believing we’re all as full of shit as everyone else.

With such a wealth of feel-good philosophers out there (myself included), why the hell are we so miserable? I swear to the gods, if I’m not posting some angry missive on Facebook or my blog, a simple scroll through my newsfeed will show that one of my friends is. You’d think with all the wit and wisdom we share, at least some of us would employ one or two of these great ideas when the shit hits the fan in our own lives. Is it because we know our advice is bullshit? Hmmmm…

Let’s face it, it’s easier to help someone else than it is to fix our own problems. It all has to do with a little something called “objectivity,” which is “a sense of impartiality or fairness.” One must be able to look at a problem objectively in order to solve it, which pretty rules out any idea of us being able to help ourselves. The only upside to this observation is that at least I’m aware of my helplessness. I wonder if any of my fellow social media psychologists are willing to admit their lack of objectivity in their own lives.

Another problem with online advice: few people are truly so altruistic that they’re just willing to offer of themselves for just the sake of helping others. If you believe this about other people, you’re a fool; if you believe it about yourself, you’re a liar. There is a variety of reasons why most people like to “help” others, but the big three are:

1. The “helper” gets off on having a reputation of being a “good person.”

2. It makes the “helper” feel superior to the other person.

3. The “helper” is earning the trust of the other in hopes of manipulating that person at a later date.

Number three is the most insidious of the bunch and subject to a blog post all its own. (It’s an interesting story in manipulation tactics and if you’d like to read it sometime, message me in the comments.) Riddle me this, all ye stalwart crusaders: Deep down, you know I’m right. Admitting it is the first step.

The worst thing about Internet do-gooders is the complete hypocrisy under which so many of us operate. Constantly immersing oneself into other people’s problems really only succeed in one thing: it allows us to willfully ignore our own unresolved issues, personal shortcomings, and character flaws. The more the “helper” tries to help others, the bigger the mess he/she is. Perhaps it’s time these Internet advice columnists (myself included) start looking into a mirror instead of our inboxes. Just saying…

Wow! I really unloaded here, didn’t I? It was all for a good cause though… ’cause I said so. (LOL) There’s a lot of this going around lately, yet everyone who I see giving advice (myself included) will be the same people who are griping about how life isn’t fair a few days later. I guess this only means one thing: unlike my wife, who is a successful advice blogger, I don’t have much of a future in doing the same on here.

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.