“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” – Erica Jong
This is a truth-telling quote. A universal tendency is to ask others for advice on what we should do in different situations. But, people don’t typically ask for advice with a means to take it. They ask to get a better understanding of how they are feeling about the situation at hand. Now, asking for others’ opinions and feedback is by no means bad, but we live in a world of external validation so I feel that this is a relevant topic to discuss.
We are constantly looking outside of ourselves for validation, an answer, or an opinion on our proposed actions and decisions. But, even as a therapist myself, who am I to tell you how you should be or what you should do? How does that ultimately benefit you? What works best is to help you explore your own beliefs, thoughts, morals, motifs, and desires. From that exploration (self- or co-) you can cultivate responses and behaviors that are more true to you.
Ask yourself, what do you seek when you ask others for advice? Here’s 3 reasons why it may benefit you to quit asking others for advice:
When you ask someone for advice, you probably already have an expectation of how you hope they will respond.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had someone ask me for advice, and I could see, written all over their face, what they probably wanted me to say. The hard part about being the “advice giver” in that scenario is that, usually, you want to say what your friend or loved one wants to hear. It’s hard to not give them what they want (Sure, some of us are stronger than others and can be more direct, blunt, and honest, but I believe we are all guilty of this at one time or another). This gets especially tricky with people pleasers…I’m sure you know who you are *raises hand*.
You build trust with yourself.
If you are asking someone for advice and have an expectation about how you hope they respond, skip the extra step of adding more stock into your considerations. Go with the exercise of honing in on your own desired outcome, good or bad, and then asking yourself “what would I tell a friend?” You will probably end up making a decision closer to your own value system. A lot of times what we seek when asking for advice is just a sense of validation and security that we are okay no matter what we end up doing. Allow yourself to practice the beautiful art of self-acceptance and self-validation.
You will grow in your self-esteem and confidence.
I think about the example of the woman asking her partner, friend, parent- whoever- “does this dress make me look fat?” Reality check: Do you love who you are seeing in the mirror? Do you feel fat in the dress? Do you feel confident? Chances are, if you’re asking someone else, you may not…or the flip side of that coin is that you may feel wonderfully confident and are asking to feel even more pepped up about it. But then, what does it really even matter? Let the confidence shine through your own assertiveness and decision making. I promise that is what people will be drawn to, even more than the dress.