Ah, that staple of living life (if you aren’t on a desert island): unwanted advice. Have you had the experience of a well-meaning person in your life having a very clear opinion about what you should do, or not do, or something else about you, and just totally getting it wrong?
We could call it impromptu guidance instead, or an expression of concern, perhaps even very kindly and constructively shared.
And yet you know it’s off the mark. You know the other party just isn’t getting something essential about you, or your path, whether momentary, this season, or over the long haul.
Been there. Right?
So take this in:
The disconnect is just part of life.
It isn’t about you.
Except when it is. :) More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile, this is a poignant and very common human experience.
We’ve also no doubt been on the other side of it. Consider this whenever you’re giving “unwanted advice.” Yep, you. And me, too. It may be “out of the goodness of our hearts”, but it’s an equation in which 2 + 2 may well not equal 4.
Did the person seek your perspective? If not, you can predict the outcome of that particular outlay of energy because of your own experiences of being on the receiving end. And even if she or he did ask your opinion, your honest reply may end up disappointing you if you then expect any particular outcome from it.
These experiences are often useful, though, despite any understandable stress or tension that comes with them. We can gain new clarity about how we really do feel and where we really stand in the face of the thoughts and opinions of others.
That’s a good thing, right?
And the bottom line?
There is tremendous power in you being authentically you in those moments. In those relationships. In really owning and honoring all that this means: your hopes and dreams, strengths, weaknesses or areas for growth, values, choices, and, yes, responsibilities, including responsibilities to self.
These moments in our lives, fielding unwanted advice or other challenges, when who we really are bumps up against the views and values of others, are actually golden opportunities for committed, even inspiring communication, as we risk being and sharing the real deal, who we are. Deeply. Really. Beautifully.
These are moments worth bringing our best to, in communications in which we truly respect ourselves and the other.
Our differences. Our uniqueness.
The beauty of our connection from the truth of our individuality. All that.
And no, as you know, these conversations don’t always go well.
Life is like that, too.
Just like our Olympic athletes can’t “get to gold” without consistent, committed engagement in the work at hand, challenging dialogue from a place of individual differences is part of playing the game of life. All the better when it’s with others with whom we share real affection or deep love.
So just like those Olympians do, day after committed day:
Think life-changing communications.
Opportunity to deepen a relationship. To hone new skills in honest self-expression. To truly experience and live a life of individual freedom and meaningful connection. These moments can be good. Or great! They may be work, but it’s work worth doing in our beautiful lives.
And earlier I noted that sometimes a “disconnect” experience is about you.
Yes, let’s face this fact:
Sometimes life may be bringing us a message that we really need to hear.
About a momentary or habitual blind spot. A chance to see something in a new way, like an interpretation of events or circumstances that’s holding us back, or an assumption that’s limiting the options we’re considering as next steps on our passion-based path.
Be attuned to these experiences, and be genuinely curious about them. Take time to reflect before responding when possible, or circle back for a re-do later within the context of committed communication.
In bringing our best to our important relationships, 1. a growth mindset, and 2. real curiosity about ourselves provide important counter-balance to those necessary, even thrillingly honest expressions of this is who I really am.
Ultimately, with or without unwanted advice in your life, rock your very own stripes. And enjoy the wild journey!
Teresa Young coaches savvy folks ready to accomplish passion-based goals in healthy new ways. Clients include Boomers seeking fulfillment in the second half of life and GenXers and Millennials looking for meaning from the start. Teresa coaches by phone, in person, and via Skype outside the U.S.