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Good Advice

August 27th, 2013 by Will Nesbitt Leave a comment Go to comments
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Good Advice

He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other. - Francis Bacon

The self-help industry is booming these days, isn’t it? Encouraging words and inspirational quotes are everywhere you turn…posters, t-shirts, e-mail, social media (ESPECIALLY social media). (speaking of which, have you joined The Inner Seed Facebook page? You should. A lot of great posts there, if I do say so myself. Click here to join. What? You didn’t think I’d miss an opportunity to plug my page did you??) There’s no shortage of advice. Everywhere you turn someone has something to say about what someone else should do or think about themselves or their lives. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. If someone resolves an issue or is somehow helped by the advice given, then I’m all for it.

Advice is defined as “guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.” These recommendations for future action are typically based on past experiences. The person regarded as knowledgeable either went through or are going through the same or a similar situation or they know of someone who has/is going through the same or a similar situation. But, do we take the person’s advice only because they are knowledgeable or authoritative? What determines who is knowledgeable? What determines who is authoritative? Is it the number of degrees they have? Their experience? Their success in facing and resolving such issues? Their wisdom and understanding regarding any matter regardless of experience? Or should the other person’s experience even be a consideration? Should we or should we not focus more on the advice or information given, weigh it on its own merit and whether or not it fits the situation and could potentially resolve the issue at hand?

The issue with advice, of course is knowing which to take and which to ignore. There’s no one-size-fits-all piece of advice that works for every situation. What works for one situation, may not work for another. Even if someone is experiencing the exact same thing another has gone through, it may or may not always be best or wise to follow the exact same steps to resolve that issue. So, now the question becomes ‘How do we know which advice is best for us? How do we know the best path to take?’ We’ll get to that in a moment.

The way I see it, there are two types of advice: feel-good advice and do-good advice. Meaning that some advice is meant to inspire you to feel better, while other advice is meant to inspire you to do better.

I liken feel-good advice to adding a fancy rug to accent or liven or brighten an otherwise boring room. Maybe you’re discouraged because you got rejected for a job you really wanted, or upset because you had a run-in with a rude customer or co-worker, or sad because someone close to you died. Feel-good advice is necessary in moments like these. Sometimes we need a pick me up if we’re having a bad day or issues with a particular situation. We need to know that things will work out and be ok. We need to hear that we can handle what we’re going through or that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Do-good advice is a higher level of restoration. I liken it to repairing a hole in a floor. It revitalizes the floor, making it whole and safe to walk on again. Keeps people from falling in and making things worse by hurting themselves or others. Maybe you’re being rejected for every job you’ve applied for, or in a relationship suffering the same or similar issues as the others in your past, or dealing with an addiction or health issue. Do-good advice is meant to help the person do better in these types of situations. To help them improve their resume and interviewing skills or acquiring the skills and experience necessary to perform the job; learning how to respect yourself and another person you love and do what’s best for yourself AND the relationship; to admit to an addiction or call attention to health issues and seek the necessary cures.

Not all advice is for your own good or is the answer you need at that time. Feel-good advice has its place. However, it does not fix everything. It’s not what’s needed for every situation. Just like an aspirin is great for headaches, but it won’t help much with a gunshot wound. Using feel-good advice when you need do-good advice is like using that fancy rug to cover a hole in the floor. It looks nice, but it only masks the problem instead of fixing the problem. You waste more time and energy trying to avoid the hole than you would working to fix it. But, you can only cover it up for so long. Eventually someone is going to fall in…and you will always fall with them. After all, it’s your floor/problem.

People mean well. Sometimes a friend will substitute do-good advice with feel-good advice because they just don’t want to see you hurting. They want to give you a quick fix to take your mind off things and ease your frustration. They sometimes fear telling you the truth and possibly hurting your feelings even worse, so they take the easier route of only telling you what will make you feel good or what you want to hear. They tell you:

(feel-good advice) ‘Don’t worry. Maybe God didn’t want you to have those jobs because He has something better for you on the way.’

as opposed to

(do-good advice) ‘Maybe you should have a professional look over your resume’ or ‘Maybe you should be a little more professional or work on your interviewing skills.’

(feel-good advice) ‘Women/men are just stupid and don’t know how to handle you. It’s her/him. Not you. You’re a good person.’

as opposed to

(do-good advice) ‘Have you ever thought about why you keep having the same issues in your relationships? Think about what part you play in creating these issues. What do you think you can do to make the relationship work better?’

(feel-good advice) ‘Don’t beat yourself up. We’re all addicted to something. So what if you have a few drinks here and there. There are people out there who do much worse.’

as opposed to

(do-good advice) ‘I think you might have a problem. I think you really should get help. But, you don’t have to work through it on your own. Let’s pray on it, then see if we can find you some professional help or a support group.’

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The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. - Norman Vincent Peale

So, how do we know which advice is best for us? If it’s the truth. And how do we know if it’s true? If it helps us to see what we need to see in order to do better and move to a higher place mentally, emotionally, or improve our circumstances. If it gives us a new understanding and renews our faith in ourselves and moves us toward a solution, then it is good advice. Anything less than this is a waste of time. If it is true and in your best interest then it is good for you. Anything meant to help you do better/be better is good for you.

Many times, we shy away from do-good advice simply because it doesn’t feel good at the time. We want to hear what we want to hear. We only want to feel good. We want the quick fix.  We only want to hear things that conform to our own self-image. And anything that contradicts that image (whether true or false) is perceived as a threat to our ego. But, we must not be afraid of the truth. It always works for our benefits and sets right all that is wrong…even if we can’t see it or aren’t feeling it at the time.

One of the best ways to tell if advice is ‘good’ or not is if it makes you think and see things from a perspective you hadn’t considered before. That’s important. As Einstein tells us, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” So, a different perspective is necessary in troubling times. Sometimes that perspective can come from someone else. Someone with the wisdom to direct us within ourselves to dig for the answers we need. Because the answers we seek are usually within us, not outside. We just forget to look there or don’t trust ourselves enough to follow our own hearts and minds.

There is a time to seek out advice and there is a time to trust ourselves to make the best decision for our own lives. We each have within us all the tools we’ll ever need to guide us in the right direction. This is one reason why prayer is so important. It is a way to seek advice from the Ultimate Source of Do-Good Advice. There are innumerable things that the Divine sees that we can’t see. There are innumerable things that the Divine knows that we don’t know.

How do we seek out and receive this advice? We tap into this Infinite Truth through prayer…through our willingness to speak our hearts to Him and to hear His. Both Knowledgeable and Authoritative, His recommendations are all the advice we will ever need. We pray and trust His Answer is for our greatest good. And it always is. Sometimes we see that right away. Other times, it may take a while. But, we must trust and have faith that those prayers will be answered and we will be guided in the right direction. We must be open and willing to receive the Answer…even when we doubt. Doubt happens. But it is possible to see through our doubts to the Light of Truth as though they were a thin veil…which is no match for Light and eyes determined to see.

It is also important to learn to rely on our intuition and instincts. Our intuition and instincts are given to us to make choices and resolve issues we may not actually ‘know’ the answers to mentally. These are built-in receivers of Truth and instruction. Ways for the Divine to communicate what we need to know. The information comes as hunches or gut feelings that tell us that something is right or wrong. If we are not used to using our intuition or relying on our instincts, then that’s when we rely heavily on our faith. With enough experience, we will gain the confidence we need to be certain of our intuition and instincts.

What’s good advice? The truth. Plain and simple. Always seek the Truth in any situation and from any and everyone, including yourself. Surround yourself with people who seek the truth for themselves and those around them. That’s the greatest support system….honest, caring people who will not only tell you what you want to hear, but who will tell you the Truth. People who will not only tell you that you’re beautiful, that you’re capable, and that you’re a great person, but will also tell you when an outfit doesn’t look appropriate, or when you’re being a total asshole, or that you should seek help for an addiction or problem. Good advice is advice that will point you to the Truth within yourself and helps you figure things out for yourself instead of always giving specifics as to what you should or should not do. That’s what a great adviser does. The primary job of any teacher/adviser is to teach us how to solve problems.

So, seek out advice if you must, just be sure to look within first. Nothing wrong with an encouraging word or recommendation from a friend, but do not overlook your Primary Source of Direction. For there is already within you the Ultimate Knowledge and Authority to guide you and help restore peace to any situation you face and give you the right advice to not only feel better, but to do better as well.

Peace.

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