The 6 most feared words in the English language.
“Can I give you some advice?”
oh no. please, it would be great if you didn’t. nope. actually not interested. I’ve heard the horror stories from pregnant students, clients, and friends. I’m sure I’ll fall victim myself one day. unsolicited baby advice might be the most terrifying breed. unsolicited marriage advice might not be far behind. Diet advice in a not so distant third. “let me just tell you one thing…”
Its not that input from others isn’t important. its often pretty crucial. and that unsolicited, dreaded, eye-roll inducing advice can actually sometimes be pretty helpful. but its the idea that we need advice, thats what gets usually gets us.
Some people are really good at asking for help. at reaching out. I’m not one of them. Priding myself on a Can-Do attitude, asking for advice doesn’t really fall under the umbrella of independence and fuck-off-I-can-handle-it that I usually carry around with me. Its an ego thing. I see that now. Countless hours on my mat, an unbelievably supportive partner, and a lot of Brené Brown books have made that clear. but somehow I still find myself wanting to muscle through it all. for better or worse, it was me responsible. I suppose its a control thing too. ego and control.
Those are big words. ego. control. kind of big scary words. and yet I have a feeling I’m not the only one who is affiliated with them. they seem to have a fairly big following, lots of influence. If they were on instagram they’d be posting 5 times a day and collecting followers like Kylie Jenner’s tiny new puppy.
Allowing someone else to jump into our lives with their own insights, however ludicrous (or grounded) feels unwelcome. it can feel like an assault on our own authority. its easy to take personally. but have you ever been the advice giver? oh c’mon, you have. I have. I’m a doula and a prenatal yoga teacher, I’ve caught shit coming out of my mouth to students, however knowledgeable or prudent, and immediately realized – nobody asked for that.
for the advice giver though, those 6 little words are nothing more than words. little words. soft words. well-intentioned words. words meant to make your life easier. they don’t always. of course. but isn’t it supposed to be the thought that counts? no matter how much we grit our teeth, we can’t go it alone. advice, help, its necessary. its crucial. without it we’ll crumble into a fist pumping heap of ‘I’m-fine-I-swear’ and then still wonder why things didn’t work.
So I’m gonna be that asshole.
Can I give you some advice?
Take the advice. maybe take it with a grain of salt, but take it. stop deflecting. soak up the well intentioned and sometimes ill-advised advice of your peers and coworkers, your in-laws, the random stranger in the checkout line. keep what you need, toss the rest. You might just find that what you end up keeping can’t hurt, and what you toss is a just a teeny tiny bit of that ego.