How often are we quick to provide advice or encouragement to someone in need? We have a friend who is really going through some things, and we are able to provide support for their challenge. But do we use the prescribed advice we give to others, for ourselves? Do we consider acting on the great advice we give others or even better yet, do we avoid the same situations that we advise others to avoid?
Advice and suggestions surround our daily lives. News, people, social media, magazines, and word-of-mouth gossip is full of advice about this or that. When we tell someone about what is bothering us, what we are trying to decide upon, or what we are going through, we often receive: their ADVICE. This advice can be a huge relief for us, or it can be a source of frustration, especially if the advice is unsolicited. And we do the same for others, we offer our advice when we think our knowledge and experience might help them with their challenges.
Then we struggle. We go through this thing called life. It’s hard to be a good source of support for others and then not be able to encourage yourself when you need it. Feelings of isolation and discouragement rise up as we wonder why we are stuck in a rut that we can easily help others through but cannot seem to pick ourselves up and remind ourselves that, “It will all be ok.”
We tend to perceive the problems that other people experience much differently than the problems we ourselves experience.
We hold ourselves to a different and often higher standard instead of remembering that we are human too. When someone else tells us their concerns, we can readily seek out solutions for them because we see it through both lenses of helping and being compassionate to their needs. Then when we are struggling, we are often not seeing our trial through the same perspective as a friend in need. Instead we view ourselves as broken, defeated, ignored, useless, worthless, and even void of hope. Our experience is different when we are looking at ourselves in a struggle versus assessing the challenges of someone else. When we need to use our own prescribed advice, our personal advice mechanism is now down and inactive, like a website that will not allow you to access the site or a computer that has crashed.
So how do we fix our perception so that we can take advantage of the wonderful advice we are so easily able to give others? We have to be kind to ourselves when we are struggling or going though something.
We have to remember that we are strong and capable individuals who have been through many obstacles in our life and that this too shall pass.
We have to take good care of ourselves, say NO to some extra obligations, rest, and use the prescribed advice that we might offer someone else in this same situation.
Slowing down can help us in these situations. We are always on GO, GO, GO, mode and we rarely just take each day as it is and how it flows. Instead we are jumping from one thing to the next, frantically entering more meetings on our calendars, all while ignoring our bodies that scream to us through headaches, viruses, pain, and anxiety to: “SLOW DOWN!”
I get it. Sometimes life is life and there are things that have to get done regardless of the circumstances. Yes, I agree there are times like this. But is this really the advice you would provide to a friend or loved one who came to you worn down, stressed out, feeling defeated and discouraged? Would you give them a simple, get over it and just keep going response? No, not likely. You would advise them to slow down, take the situation apart and do one thing at a time. You might also remind them that you can’t do anything about the parts of life that we can’t control, and that it’s important to take care of yourself and not over-stress your mind and body. Sound familiar? Is this the line of thinking that pops into your mind as you listen to a stressed out person as they download their concerns to you? You kick into compassionate-mode, and your ability to help them calm down and be hopeful is your focus.
The prescription advice that we often give others is to rest and relax. But then we hesitate to accept our own advice when we really need it. This is a thought process that must be discarded. Are we not worth the quality of care that we prescribe to others? How can we demonstrate what we prescribe if we run around stressed out and worn down? And how can we continue to provide this stellar advice to others if we do not take good care of ourselves, when it’s needed the most? These are questions to ask yourself the next time that you refuse to take your own advice.
Then, of course, this inability to use our own advice can make us feel overwhelmed. We wonder what is wrong with us that we cannot get a grip on our own life, but can give good advice to others. Be careful of this mindset and set of thinking patterns. It’s a trap. We cannot allow the negative spiral to take shape simply because we are having a bad day and are learning how to cope. We have to empower ourselves to do better and keep working to sort through the negative thoughts and avoid the spiral with every opportunity we receive to do so. Without challenges and obstacles, we really do not have a training ground for positive thinking do we? So as difficult as it might be, embrace these times that you seem unable to take your own prescribed advice and work toward changing your perspective into being able to use the advice next time, because there will be a next time. This is guaranteed.
In the meantime, you can still be a source of support and encouragement for your friends and loved ones. Do not feel like your advice is any less helpful because you have challenging days too. Also, do not be afraid to use your own advice when necessary, and to be kind to yourself when you are feeling negativity take over. The more practice you have in this area of your thinking, the easier it will become to avoid the negative thinking traps and to actually take (and use) your own prescribed advice.