I turned fifty last fall.
I’m still in shock about it.
I don’t feel fifty years old.
What the heck does fifty even feel like anyway? No idea, but it can’t be this! Why, I don’t feel a day older than when I was twenty.
I sure wish I looked twenty, LOL!
Perhaps I still behave like I’m twenty in some ways? Maybe that would explain why, at age fifty, there are people in my life who still insist on giving me unsolicited advice as if I’m a child.
My father was all about the unsolicited advice, even telling me in front of a group of strangers that I needed to take it easy playing sports at a family gathering a couple years ago. “You aren’t in very good shape…” was the stinger.
I was 48 years old. I basically raised myself from age 7. I put myself through college. I raised two children. I founded two non-profits. I’ve coached others on their life decisions. But, apparently, I am not intelligent enough to know how far to push my body in a recreational activity.
Maybe that sounds like its not such a big deal – it was just a comment. These sorts of comments were his only comments – ever. This incident was the first thing he said to me when we spoke after not speaking for more than a year. It’s almost the last thing he ever said to me before he passed.
His “friendly” advise always made me feel stupid and small – as if everything I did was wrong and never good enough. He made everything negative. I’m having fun with my siblings and the younger people at the gathering and he couldn’t let it be. He needed to shame me in front of others. He needed to save me from myself.
That incident proved to be a big moment for me and actually ended with me taking my power back as I was able to respectfully set a boundary with him regarding unsolicited advice. He wasn’t happy about it and he tried gaslighting me with the “you’re so sensitive” and “you sure get angry about things” comments. He was especially good at gaslighting. But, not on me. Not anymore.
This incident, along with my Metaphysical Humanistic Science education, taught me a lot about unsolicited advice – especially between parents and adult children. See, in a lot of ways, I was doing the same thing to my kids that my dad had done. I would poke holes in every little thing they were trying to do and I even thought I was being a hero for helping them see something they had missed or had not thought of before.
Because I know everything and they know nothing. That was the message I was sending every time I opened my mouth and offered unwanted advice to them. It was not my intention to create that feeling of unworthiness in them – but it was the result.
It’s not just parents who offer this unwelcome advice. We get this from friends, relatives, co-workers – and even complete strangers who walk in to a situation and try to play the hero. They… You…Me… We feel so good when we can save someone with our sage advise and wisdom, don’t we? Because we are special and no one has lived our experience and so no one could possibly be an expert at all of the things in which we are the most proficiently knowledgeable. So, we give our wisdom freely, without being asked, because we want to be your hero as you clearly can’t figure life out on your own.
Ugh. We’ve got to stop with the unsolicited advice. It’s frustrating. It’s demeaning. It’s almost always unwelcome and unwanted. It’s absolutely rude and inappropriate.
Wait to be asked your opinion or for your advice, or, offer to speak with them later if they’d like to hear your experience on the subject.
Otherwise, let other people live their lives and use their own experience, judgement, inner-voice, and common sense to guide them. They have a right to learn through experience. Allow them that freedom. Yes, even your adult children.
Jay and I will talk more about this subject this summer on our Love over Fear Broadcast Series on the weekly #ChooseLove Broadcast. I’ve got some good tips for anyone who wants to know how to set boundaries and stop the unsolicited advisers in their life – and also, how to get honest about your own unwanted advice habit.
This is an important topic because it affects us all. This behavior can lead to lower self-esteem, cause self-doubt, and create major rifts in relationships. It’s an easy fix. We just need to know how to recognize the behavior and how to heal it.
Join us each Tuesday afternoon on Facebook or Mixlr, or catch the replays in our Broadcast Archive.