on advice

I met up with a friend yesterday and we had a lovely talk. We talked about plans of working together on a movie, she asked me what the state-of-my-mind was like, and she wanted to unload a heavy heart. She was going through something and she just needed someone to listen and I was happy to oblige.

I try to avoid giving advice unless it is asked for and I’m always very, very clear that this is merely based on my own personal experiences. I always remind people that it might not be best suited for them. I put myself in their shoes, or better yet, I tell them what I see, the situation as seen from my perspective. Maybe seeing it in another way will give them the answers they are seeking for. I ask a lot of questions because answering the peripherals sometimes helps the person come to the solution that’s best for them.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

— Heard from the Baz Luhrmann song “Everybody Is Free to Wear Sunscreen” (and further research shows [Goodreads] that it was written by Mary Schmich)

I understand that it takes quite a lot of self-awareness to go through that process but I’m glad that the many times I’ve found myself in this situation, I’ve always managed to get the person to trust me to accept the process. I never push, or at least I don’t think I do, and it eases them to a point where they can be honest to me, and hopefully, to themselves.

Sometimes we are so caught up in the emotions that we can’t see any other perspective but our own. I try not to give advice, I try to help them see other points-of-views and see the situation in a different angle and hopefully illuminate a sort of solution that is favorable for everyone.

I hope I’ve been successful in that regard. I try my best to stick by those rules. Listen. Ask. Show different perspectives. It’s better for the person asking for the advice to come up with the answer on their own, I think.

So my friend and I were talking and she was letting out her heavy heart and I was listening and asking questions and clarifying the narrative so that I felt I could posit different perspectives. We had gotten into such a groove that I began giving my own point-of-view and sharing lessons that I’ve learned because I found ourselves to be very similar in how we deal with people; we’re both empathic people.

I ended up sharing with her an observation based on an old hypothesis. It’s one of those old sayings like, for example, “Men usually end up with someone like their mother and women usually end up with someone like their father.” It’s something similar to that. We were talking about relationships, after all. It was when I shared that observation that I was hit by a realization about myself.

In seeking to help others, you help yourself. In seeking to heal others, you heal yourself.

— Matshona Dhliwayo (as quoted by Goodreads)

I was dumbfounded. I was out to help my friend but I also managed to find out something about myself. Something about me became clear. We were both laughing because my realization was very evident in my face and I had shut up in mid-sentence because I got struck by my own sharing.

We talked some more and I showered with love and encouraged her to keep finding her truth and defending it. She was thankful for my time and for listening and I was so thankful for her time and for listening and asking about me.

It was a good day.

2 thoughts on “on advice

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