I am trying to stop taking advice meant for the other side.
That’s the best way I know how to articulate this human phenomenon I’ve observed: we are all taking advice meant for the other side.
What I mean is, people who are natural fighters read an article about perseverance and “good things come to those who hustle” and they think, “Yes, I should fight more.”
People who are natural fleers (or at least natural pause-ers and analyzers) read about planning, or about learning to say “no,” and they think, “Yes, I should consider this longer.”
Fighters take advice intended to balance natural fleers; fleers take advice intended to balance natural fighters.
We do it in everything.
Married people are taking dating advice and dating people are taking married advice.
This means that married people are punking out on their marriages because they want their spouse to be a “perfect match” and they’re obsessed with their own happiness and fulfillment.
And dating people are ignoring red flags right and left and staying in relationships long past their expiration dates in the name of commitment and “nobody’s perfect.”
Consider our speech:
The speaker-uppers hear John Mayer’s “Say” (or Katy Perry’s “Roar,” depending on your taste) and think, “Yes! I should speak my mind MORE. I should tell MORE truth, louder!”
The suppressors (like me), read a passage about taming the tongue and we just keep bottling things up in the name of being wise or measured.
Collectively, we need to STRIKE THAT; REVERSE IT.
People have a natural bent. Each person’s natural bent is a little bit different, but collectively we all bend towards self-preservation. We use our different coping mechanisms, our different drugs of choice, all towards the same end: comfort.
The speaker-uppers feel heard and important when they speak.
The suppressors feel safe when they suppress.
The happiness-seekers feel hope and the assurance of joy when they pursue pleasure.
The blind-committers feel safe and secure at the avoidance of conflict.
To the louds, loud comes naturally and they bend towards it.
To the quiets, quiet comes naturally and they bend towards it.
None of that’s bad – it just is. The problem is that we are inclined to listen to the advice that supports our bent. We fall down our own rabbit holes. We operate like, if speaking up is good, then speaking up more is better! If quiet is good, then quieter is better! But that logic doesn’t hold water. That’s like saying, if one burger is good, 3 burgers are better. But three burgers will make you barf. And so will a person who speaks everything they see/think/feel at maximum decibels. And so will the anxiety of keeping everything inside.
I could talk all day long about keeping your mouth shut, and thinking before you act, and minding your own business, and taking the time you need to process things. That’s my natural bent. That’s all good advice, but it’s not for me. I need someone to tell me to SPEAK UP. Open your mouth, Kate, and call problems problems. I need someone to kick my energy-preserving INFJ self in the tail and get me to play dates so that my kids can have friends. The advice we live and the advice we give is not the same as the advice we need.
This is one of the gazillion ways that I am working on me. I am trying to stop hoarding advice that supports my natural bent. I am taking deep breaths and choosing to hear the voices that tell me to SPEAK UP, GET UP, PULL THE TRIGGER – not as criticism, and not as foolhardy, but as a precious challenge to my natural bent that will push me towards balance. Towards greater maturity and health.
The advice you live and the advice you give are not the same as the advice you need. In what direction do you naturally bend?