unsolicited advice

I haven’t shared anything in a while, mostly because I needed to pause and think about why the hell I post anymore. I think I know, for now.

When I write about my past experiences, I try my best to present those experiences in a way that makes whoever is reading feel less isolated in the world around them. If someone reads something I wrote and feels less alone in the world and more comfortable with the decisions they’ve made and the people they’ve become, that’s enough for me.

I don’t intend for any of my posts to be teaching moments, and the last thing I want anyone to take away from reading any of my posts is “huh, why am I doing/not doing that the same way she is?”

Because holy shit, I don’t have anything “all figured out,” including myself. You have my word: I’m ~under construction~ at all times.

I try my best to be careful about coming off as an authority on anyone else’s life, mostly because I’m not, but also because I’d like to give anyone who’s reading the one nugget of unsolicited advice I’ll ever intentionally drop on anyone:

Stop giving people unsolicited advice.

Nine times out of ten, when you think you’re dropping a Truth Bomb™ of “tough love” on someone, you’re making them feel cornered and overwhelmed at worst, irritated at best.

Unless someone is in a dire situation where their mental or physical health is in danger because of their actions, chances are, your unsolicited advice is just smothering the hell out of your loved ones, and it’s not cool.

I’ve been both the deliverer and recipient of unsolicited advice, but mostly the recipient. If you know me, this is not a surprise. As a young-ish woman who has whatever the complete opposite of resting bitch face is, people tend to throw me in the “submissive” bin with little thought and feel the need to bombard me with career/relationship/underwater basketweaving advice without my consent.

When you assert yourself as an authority in someone’s life when it’s neither accurate nor necessary, you might have good intentions, but you’re inadvertently fucking with the power dynamic between you and that person and making it difficult for you to maintain an equal relationship with that person.

So, with love: Cut that shit out.

Generally speaking, when most adults are looking for advice and are in a good place mentally to receive said advice, they’ll know:

  1. When to ask
  2. Who to ask

Getting/receiving advice when it’s wanted and makes sense looks like this: My brother is a mechanic. (Hi Brett!! You’re probably not reading this because my feelings are moderately annoying to you, but I love you!) I ask him for advice on cars all the time, because I know he went to school to work on cars and does this 60+ hours a week. We have a mutual understanding that I know way less about cars than he does.

In return, he’s asked me for advice on job hunting, writing stuff, and video games in the past, and I’m happy to give that advice. I’ve always seen my brother as an equal and feel like he’s treated me as such.

Unsolicited advice looks a lot more like one person vomiting “suggestions” onto another person until the other person either pushes back or agrees to get them to leave them alone and stop spewing self-righteous bullshit everywhere. 

I think the most hurtful thing about giving someone lots of unsolicited advice, aside from the fact that it can really fuck with that person’s ability to feel like an equal in their social interactions with you, is that in most cases, if you really want to help the person, you’d be much better off letting them vent (which is what they usually want) or letting them know you’re available with a simple “please let me know if I can help in any way.”

That way, if someone is looking for advice, they feel like it’s invited rather than forced on them. Generally, most adults will be comfortable asking for advice if they need it after they’ve been invited to do so. And if they’re not? Respect that and let them make their own choices at their own pace. Timing is a huge part of why unsolicited advice is shitty, and people need different kinds of support at different times in their lives, depending on whatever they’re juggling.

The flipside of this is that, if you find yourself listening to someone vent, and you don’t have the bandwidth to be as supportive as you’d like, you’re allowed to change the subject or hang out with that person less if they insist on talking about something you’re not equipped to handle.

So yeah, there you have it: The only real piece of advice I ever want to dispense without anyone asking me to is to tell people not to bombard others with advice when they didn’t ask for it. Take that as you will.

Bonus section!! Here’s a list of awful pieces of unsolicited advice I’ve been given throughout my life that made me feel like junk and didn’t change my life in any meaningful way:

1. You care too much! Show people you don’t care about them, and they’ll find you much more interesting/want to date or befriend you. (I was in middle school when I first heard this, and fuck if I’m not still picking up the pieces after realizing how much this negatively affects my ability to confide in and open up to people. No healthy relationship is built on this way of thinking, and I wish I could go back in time and tell small me that.)

2. Treat your anxiety with [insert dubious natural remedy here] and just talk about your feelings with your friends instead of going to therapy!! (This advice is the worst, and I am able to drive because of years of professional therapy for PTSD. I’m no longer in therapy, but it’s nice to know that if I ever have to deal with heavy stuff again, it’s an option I’m not ashamed of. Talk therapy rules, and most of the people I’ve known who’ve knocked it probably could use it. Also, please don’t use your friends as therapists. That’s exhausting for your friends. Deciding whatever medicine is best for you works too, because you are the only one who lives with your dumb jerk brain.)

3. Stop playing video games, they’ll make you violent. (I played Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis with blood mode on when I was three, and I feel horrible when I accidentally step on my roommate’s cat’s foot. I am a cinnamon roll of a human being; I’m soft as hell, and I own that. Video games are fun, and as long as I’m still going outside and letting my eyeballs take a break, I’m good.)

Anyway, I love anyone who reads these things and most of the people who don’t. I’m not sure know when I’ll post again, but feel free to reach out to me if you want me to yell about stuff I don’t like more often, but also if you disagree with me.




One thought on “unsolicited advice

  1. Such a great topic that I haven’t read many blog posts about before! Reminds me to do better about not trying to tell people how to I think they should “fix” their problems and instead just be there for them. I always tell my husband I just want him to know when to say “that sucks” when I complain about something rather than try to give me a solution I have already considered.

    Also super agree with the violent video games comment! Grand Theft Auto since I was like 10 and I’m still the sappiest person I know…


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