We’ve all been there. We’ve all known that person. We make a certain life decision and somebody feels the need to comment on it, suggest that we made an error, tell us how to do it better, and then proceed to tell us how wrong and awful we actually are. Ah- the joy of unsolicited life advice!
Over the past year, I was BOMBARDED with “friendly” reminders about how much I was “screwing up my life.” These aren’t trusted friends kindly coming to me with genuine concerns. These are random acquaintances who think they know what’s really going on. In reality, they haven’t a clue! At first, all this “advice” (A.K.A. “Let me fix your miserable, misguided life for you”) sent me into my bed with the covers over my head. Then I snapped out of it and learned to own my own life including all of my decisions. These are a few things I figured out in the process:
1. Remind yourself whom you are talking to.
Who is giving you all this advice? Is it a close friend approaching you with worries, or is it your mother’s friend from church? Is it your loving brother or is it the nosey girl from high school? If the source of this advice is not someone who has proven to be a genuine, loyal friend, they have not earned the right to speak into your life. Even if this person is your parent, you should ask yourself if they are a solid, stable source of advice. Find your tribe of trusted individuals who can keep you accountable and allow the rest of the voices to go by the wayside.
2. Listen. Then choose to keep or toss.
You are the author of your own life story. When we hand over the pen to someone else, the results are never good. We can choose to respectfully listen, and then we can choose to respectfully ignore. Do not keep every piece of advice that is offered to you. Typically, all this advice is contradictory and to juggle it all will end in psychotic episodes of lack of sleep and chocolate binges (which someone will undoubtedly tell you will make you obese!). Toss the bad advice; keep the good advice. And then move on.
3. You do not owe anybody the whole story.
Sometimes people will attack you with their “suggestions” all while having no idea what’s actually going on. If they have not earned the right to hear the entire story, you have no responsibility to share it with them! Let them think what they are going to think. The people who love you and are close to you will know the truth, and that is all that matters in the end.
4. Stand up for yourself.
There is nothing wrong with telling somebody to leave you the f*** alone. If somebody refuses to stop speaking negatively about your life or your choices, you have the right to tell them to stop. If their feelings get hurt, so be it.
At the end of the day, our lives are made up of choices. Our own choices. Sometimes we make good ones, sometimes we make bad ones. We should remember that there will always be people who think we did the wrong thing. If we always listened, we would never get anywhere in our lives. We must still keep moving on boldly. And always remember, when people are busy worrying about your life and how to fix it, they are often hiding what is really going in their own lives.