How Selfish Is Your Advice?

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July 21, 2014 ‐ By Kendra Koger
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As a little girl growing up I had a severe stuttering problem.  It’s really weird to talk about it now, because it’s pretty much nonexistent, but it was very evident as a child.  Because no one really wanted to hold a long conversation with me while I struggled to get words out, I just held everything in.  My speech therapy kicked in when I was in first grade and I felt more comfortable talking to people.  But I was told by my classmates that I sounded like the preacher from Coming to America.   Which is funny now, but was devastating as a child.  What little girl wants to hear that she sounds like a grown man?

As much as I love my family, their advice to me was to just “let it roll off your back, like water off of a duck’s feathers.”  It wasn’t until an argument happened that one of them blurted out:  “I don’t feel like listening to you go on and on!”

That’s when everything clicked.  I always felt as a child that the “just let it go” advice was always self-serving for the person giving it to me.  They didn’t have to listen to me, and I continued to carry on the baggage in ways that I was hurt.  They were happy that they didn’t have that deal with it.  Those words of truthful anger was my confirmation of everything that I suspected.

I vowed that once I had my own child I wouldn’t do that to her.  Until a few weeks ago when the last thing I wanted to hear was screaming and that was all that daughter was offering.  I pulled her to me and said:  “Baby, I need you to stop screaming, okay?  Please play with your toys.”  At that moment, right when I was about to gently push her in the direction of her toy pile I saw that flash of hurt in her eyes.  That feeling of being cast aside because I didn’t even try to really figure out what was wrong with her.  I just gave her a quick solution so I could go about my day.  Realizing that, I felt horrible, but at the same time forgiving to everyone who I felt had done me in the same manner.

Let’s be honest here, sometimes we don’t feel like being bothered.  It can be extremely upsetting, and overwhelming when your friend is constantly going through the same struggles, and you’re tired of hearing about it.  I understand.  So you might give him/her some advice, not necessarily because you think that it’s the right thing to do, you’re just trying to give him/her a quick fix so they can stop bothering you about it.

I feel as though we’ve all been there at some point of time.  But let’s get this first thing straight though:  that doesn’t make you necessarily a malicious person.  Yeah, your intentions might have been self-serving, but you are just a person at the end of the day who is fighting their own battles and struggles.  Sometimes it’s hard taking on the baggage of others, and sometimes you shouldn’t have to.

With that being said, if you are in a position to give advice, try to give it in a spirit of wanting to help, not just shut the person up.  If you have a friend that is going through emotional struggles at home, and he/she keeps on venting to you about it, don’t give them some second rate fortune cookie advice.  Suggest something that can help, like seeking counseling.

Because the only thing that selfish advice usually leads to is resentment.  It’s understandable that  you might not be able to handle what your loved one is throwing at you, but try to help them aim for help in the best way that you can.

Kendra Koger did find out why her daughter was crying (she broke her crayon), find out about the saga on twitter @kkoger.  …(Not really, I don’t tweet about stuff like that.)

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