How to Deal with Unsolicited Advice

I absolutely despise receiving unsolicited advice. I think it is the most arrogant, narcissistic, and rude thing someone can fling your way. I keep trying to remind myself that when someone is doling out unsolicited advice that it says much more about them than me, but it can be so damn hard in the moment to remember that and not get defensive.

It can be very difficult to remain silent and not tell this person off, but we all know that it will not improve anything. I struggle to remain silent when someone is spouting (un)sage advice my way, but I am getting better at dealing with these uncomfortable situations and preventing them from being repeated. 

Firstly you have to understand why people who dole out advice behave the way they do.

People who give unsolicited advice think that everything is their way or the highway (or at least should be). 

They are very rigid in their life views and typically struggle to see situations from vantage points other than their own. They also, obviously, believe that they know best in just about any situation they hear about. Giving out advice makes them feel valued and reinforces that they know best, which is why they continue to preach the way they do.

People who give unsolicited advice are control freaks. 

They genuinely believe that if they could simply control all the decisions everyone was making the world would be a better place. They believe that they are wiser, smarter and simply more superior than other individuals and that is why they pull at your ear so. 

They also might not genuinely feel this, but giving unsolicited advice helps propel this false narrative in their mind. They genuinely want to be seen as strong and insightful, so they continue to push their own agenda to those around them. 

People who give unsolicited advice are in dire need to feel powerful. 

They want to feel like everyone’s personal Yoda. Giving advice to others makes them feel useful, powerful and valuable. It makes these people feel like they have a sense of purpose in life and that their life’s purpose is to help other individuals guide their seemingly hot mess of a life. These people typically are trying to fill some hole in themselves, which they are struggling with, but are going about it in the wrong way entirely.

So, the real question is, how to deal with unsolicited advice when it comes your way?

Like anything in your life which is causing you grief, you need to ensure that you are asserting strong boundaries with others in your life. 

Take a pause, if in the moment you can feel your anger rising, and walk away from the situation. 

Once you have cooled off let the person know that you hear their advice and are not trying to disregard them, but let them know, if from now on, you can ask for their advice when you need it. 

Try saying something like, “I really appreciate you giving me advice in the past and I know that you are coming from a place of support when you are telling me what to do, but I was hoping that moving forward I could let you know when I am looking for advice, is that okay?”

Let the person know that advice is not what you were looking for.

Tell the individual something along the lines of, “Thank you for the advice, but I was actually looking to be heard, rather than directed.” Sure, this can be tough to do, but if the person receiving said information has any empathy, they will take the clear redirection seriously.

Sometimes silence is the most powerful answer of all.

This one is really difficult for me to do, but I find it the most effective of all. Let the person preach their heart out. Let them talk and talk and talk, and simply sit there. It can be amazing how powerful silence can be when a person is looking for verification of their rightness. It can be amazing to let the silence envelope the room, allowing them to slowly realize that perhaps they misspoke, perhaps they are out of bounds, perhaps they should learn to practice silence more often as well. 

You also need to take accountability for how you might be exasperating the situation. 

Are you always complaining about your life to this person? If so, this might be why their unsolicited advice is so apparent in your relationship. Be careful of how you frame your situations in life to others and you might realize that you are venting about your life far more than you should be and perhaps also to the wrong people. 

Receiving or giving unsolicited advice is not healthy in any situation and can force people to pull away from people giving said advice. It can be very tough to receive unsolicited advice because it can make you feel less than, or that this person thinks that you are not capable of handling the course of your own life. Remember that this person is not thinking about how you are receiving this information. They are dealing with their own problems and try to keep that thought in the forefront of your mind. At the end of the day, if all else fails, you have to start distancing yourself from this person, for your own well-being and life.

Are You Addicted to Your Life Being a Mess?

Is it an almost daily or weekly event for you to have an issue you must rant about to your friends and family about? 

Is your life filled to the brim with drama and you just do not know why?

Are you always in a stressful situation, whether it be in your relationship, work-life or personal life? 

Have you ever noticed that the common denominator to your drama is you?

When your life seems to not be going your way the only thing you can change is how you react to life’s events. 

Sometimes, when we are stressed out or making everything about us, we can see other’s actions as much more personal than the person intended for them to be. 

For example, your boss comes into the office and strides right past your desk without even acknowledging you. You decide that they are mad at you about something and spend the better part of an hour texting your friend trying to figure out why they could possibly be mad at you. Have you ever considered that maybe they were preoccupied with something that happened at home, or are late for a meeting and simply did not have the time to say hello?

Sometimes we can make mountains out of molehills because we are bored, lonely or to make our lives seem a bit more important than they actually are. Not everything is about you and if you really are worried about if your boss is unhappy with your performance, ask them. Ask them, maturely at your next one-on-one, rather than texting your friend for an hour hypothesizing over what you could potentially be doing wrong. 

You are keeping shitty people in your life and complaining about them nonstop.

Sometimes we keep negative influences in our lives because it allows us to receive sympathy from others. It adds something to talk, complain or vent about and allows you to be centerstage with drinks with friends or get-togethers because you are dealing with a big, complicated mess.

For example, your boyfriend cheats on you regularly and treats you like crap, but you continue to stay with him. He has made no promises of changing his ways or improving himself, so you are in a subpar relationship, with no potential hope of improvement. Whenever you see your friends, you spend all of your time complaining about this terrible partner you have and how you hate them or cannot wait to break up with them, but you never do. The months drag on and you stay in this substandard situation because maybe you feel you cannot find someone better, it is too complicated to break up with them or, perhaps, you enjoy the attention you receive by staying. 

Sometimes the attention we receive from being in a bad situation can be very addictive and we might actually enjoy the attention we are receiving. Believe me, the sympathy you are receiving will dry up eventually; no one wants to spend their social time with a complainer forever…everyone reaches their breaking point and gets tired of hearing your bullshit on repeat.

If you are not honest and straightforward with those around you, your life will constantly be filled with drama. Whitelies, avoiding difficult conversations and deflating major issues is extremely problematic and will keep stress as a daily presence in your life.

For example, you keep avoiding your parents when they ask you about repayment of the money they lent you years ago. You start fights with them and tell them that the economy sucks and you simply cannot repay them this year, but you also still seem to find money to take yourself out for dinner once a week and you never skip out on wine Wednesdays with the girls. When you are discounting other people’s needs and stresses for your own wants your life will be stressful. 

When you act selfishly and put your needs ahead of others you will never be living the life you dream of. If someone helped you or is helping you and you made commitments to repay them in some manner, make sure when it is time to hold up your end of the bargain you do it. Nothing is worse than a person who leaves a debt unpaid and then acts rudely to the person who helped them out during their lowest point.

You keep stepping in the same pile of shit and you cannot understand why.

Your problems are not necessarily multiplying if this is the case, but rather they are consistent. When you are in this type of drama it simply shows you that you are not addressing a fundamental problem in your life and it is consistently creeping up in your day-to-day reality. 

For example, you never manage your life properly, so you are perpetually late for everything. You forget important events and it causes problems in your social and professional life. You are constantly living to just get through the day and you never feel like you are on top of your shit. 

For example, you got overlooked for a promotion at work which you really think you deserved, but your boss told you that your continual tardiness is an issue that cannot be overlooked. 

She has told you that if you are able to get to work on time that she will have more confidence in recommending you for leadership opportunities. You manage to get to work on time for a week, maybe even two, but start to slip after that. 

A new opportunity for advancement arrives a month or so later and yet again you are overlooked, but this time you blame your boss and say that she has it out for you, and will never promote you. Instead of fixing the problem, you blame the person who gave you sound advice to fix the problem. 

If you want to minimize the bad in your life you have to actively work at improving your life every day. You cannot stay in substandard relationships. You cannot stay at your dead-end job. You cannot keep avoiding the gym or eating healthy. You cannot keep ignoring your financial situation and debt. 

You also have to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Which traits of yours simply suck? Are you a bad listener? Are you never on time? Are you forgetful? Do you make every conversation about yourself? Are you lazy? Do you only work hard if the reward is imminent? 

Self-improvement is the biggest catalyst for daily life improvement. You will be amazed at how much better your life is if you simply change your daily habits, mindset and focus. Make sure you are not simply focusing on all of your external problems, but also your internal areas of improvement. If you think that all of your problems are stemmed from the outside world and are largely other people, you are probably your own worst enemy and just do not know it yet (or ready to admit to it). 

If you continue to ignore the problems in your life you are the source of the drama in your everyday. 

If you start admitting that in order to change your life, for the better, you have to start making improvements in yourself you will start to see small, but substantial changes. 

Quit living life day-to-day, minute-to-minute, one volatile situation to the next, but rather more holistically. Start realizing that you have much more control over your life than you realized. Your whole life is basically your reaction to external events, so if you can control your reaction, you can control the drama and therefore minimize or exterminate it completely.

Being Happy Isn’t Easy

Being happy is not as simple as shutting up and smiling. 

Being happy requires you to fix, remove or resolve the areas of negativity in your life. Being happy requires you to deal with the shit in your day-to-day. Being happy means being honest with yourself about what is serving you and what is clearly not serving you.

It means finally admitting you need help with your finances and to quit avoiding making an appointment with a financial advisor. It is understanding that it is never too late to start bettering yourself, so you no longer keep avoiding your growing debt. It is about admitting to yourself that your ego is not serving you and booking time with a financial specialist. 

Being happy requires you to be merciless about what makes you happy and to protect it at any cost. Being happy requires you to be ‘mean’ to others, or what you might perceive as being mean to others. Being happy requires you to say ‘no’ to others, a lot. 

It means telling your mother-in-law, who is constantly interfering with your relationship to back off. It requires you being uncomfortable and calling out your mother-in-law’s toxic behaviour and letting her know what will and will not be accepted from here on out.

It means not doing your colleagues work for them and complaining about it later. It means having the self-respect to tell your colleague to carry their own weight and that you will not continue to carry their load for them.  

Being happy means facing your unhappiness head-on and telling it f right off. 

Being happy requires you to be ruthless with your time. Being happy requires you to be harsh with who you spend your time with. 

You will have to scrutinize who and what you spend your time doing and ask yourself the harsh question of whether or not it is bettering your life or limiting it. Is seeing your girlfriends every Friday night after work for drinks and to bitch about work healthy or harmful? Perhaps it is healthy, but you might want to ask yourself if the frequency is too high. Maybe a work-related vent session once a month, versus once a week is a healthier amount of time to spend gossiping and judging those you work with. 

Being happy requires you to be ruthless with yourself and severely harsh. Being happy requires you to be honest with where you are being lazy in life and demands that you do something positive about it today. 

It forces you to assess the habits, traits and practices which are serving you and the ones which are stagnating you. It forces you to admit that eating takeout every time you have a bad day is not helpful. It makes you admit that you have gained more than the freshman fifteen and are not living a healthy lifestyle. It means looking at your life and seeing how you are letting yourself down and making a plan to get out of your own way. 

Being happy is not this effortless stroll into a relaxing environment. Being happy is an extreme sport and you have to train and build up your resilience in order to thrive in this new environment. 

It means not going out for drinks on a Thursday night when you know it will make you snooze through morning yoga on Friday. It means drinking the smoothie you premade for breakfast instead of buying a breakfast sandwich for the third day in a row. It means cleaning up your house over the weekend instead of watching television all day and vowing to clean later in the week. It means parenting yourself when you know you are acting childish. 

Being happy does not mean that you are not faced with problems, stress, setbacks and challenges each and every day, but rather how you perceive, react, handle, and are influenced by them is what changes. Externally, everything could look exactly the same and you could still be infinitely happier than you were a day, week or month ago because all of the changes required are internal.

It is about not making each and every day a drama-filled, hot mess of a situation. It is about not reacting to every bad thing that happens to you and allowing it to derail your entire day. It means that shitty stuff still happens, but you no longer allow it to dictate your day. It means that no matter what is thrown your way, you are composed and confident enough to carry on through the chaos. 

Think of your happiness like a garden. A good garden is a thing of beauty, but anyone who knows a thing about gardening knows that gardening is hard work. Gardening requires a lot of tough, back-breaking labour, protecting your plants, showering them with love and pulling out vile weeds and scaring rodents who are trying to overtake your efforts. Gardening requires hours and hours of work for the rewards to be reaped. Gardening requires daily effort; you cannot ignore your garden for a week and then wonder why it has become a desolate, weed-infested, dry mess. A garden is a daily commitment, forget to water it for a day and you may lose weeks or months of effort in one stroke. 

Happiness is very much like gardening. Being happy is a commitment you must make each and every day with yourself, and you have to act in accordance to the commitment you have made to yourself. Sure, you may fail sometimes and some days will be tougher than others, but it is doable. You are able to live a fulfilling, happy, joyful life without changing anything except your mindset. 

What Are Your Self-Limiting Beliefs?

I do not have the time to exercise.

I am simply too old

I am too busy to go back to school.

I do not have time for a relationship right now.

I am simply too poor.

I do not have enough money to start my own business.

I am simply not good enough.

I was not meant to be a leader.

Self-limiting beliefs are assumptions or ideas you have transformed into facts about your capabilities for success.

How we were raised can have a lot to do with how far we go in life. A lot of who you are comes from how you were raised and whether or not you were given positive or negative forms of affirmation. 

The self-limiting beliefs taught or emulated to us in childhood become very much engrained into us and it can be very difficult, even with clear proof that they are false, to discount. Self-limiting beliefs are so powerful that you can live your whole life finding examples or situations which validate and concretize your self-limiting beliefs. When you come across a situation or experience which challenges your self-limiting beliefs you will tend to take it as a fluke or a one-off, which is meant to be ignored. 

For example, if you were raised to believe that you are overweight and will always have weight issues because everyone in your family has weight issues, you may believe that being overweight is your destiny. You may choose to not workout or eat healthy because what is the point? You are going to be overweight regardless. 

This type of self-limiting belief is easy to see in people. I have a friend who is overweight and it negatively impacts their life in many ways. When their doctor recommended that they try losing twenty pounds, to help relieve some of their joint pain issues, they made this comment to me: “Doesn’t the doctor bloody well know that if I knew how to lose twenty pounds, I would have lost it by now? If I could lose the weight I would have, but I simply can’t; I am a fat person and that’s that. God, these doctors do not understand anything, I cannot lose weight and I need surgery.”

This friend of mine is in a toxic loop. They are overweight and believe that they can never be at a normal weight because of what they were told in childhood. They are in chronic pain and their doctor will not authorize their hip surgery until they lose the required twenty pounds for safety reasons. They believe they cannot lose the twenty pounds because if they could have they would have done so by now.

Pay attention to the roadblocks your siblings and parents have put up in their life and see if you happen to have the same blocks built up around your life–you may be surprised at what you find. 

How we perceive ourselves is very crucial to the levels of success we will reach in our life. It is very difficult to change a self-limiting belief because they feel so real. A friend of mine, who is an amazing yogi once told me that their lifelong dream was to become a yoga instructor. 

When they told me this I was really confused and asked them what the hell could be possibly stopping them from that goal? I was shocked at the seemingly endless list they bestowed on me as to why they could not become a yoga instructor, “Oh my god Aman, you would not understand. I cannot become a yoga instructor because it is simply too expensive. I just do not have the money for the certification course.” 

I countered their excuse by saying, “I’m really good with budgeting and am amazing at budgeting. Let’s sit down and make a plan to save for the course, over the next six months, so that it does not seem daunting to you Cal.”

“It is not just the money,” Cal challenged me right back, “how would I find the time for the course? I still have to pay my mortgage, it isn’t like I could just quit my job and focus on my certification.” 

“Oh, you absolutely do not have to!” I replied back, trying to show them the optimism of the situation, “there are courses you can take right here in town, during evenings and weekends that are built for working professionals, you will be fine.”

“Even if I did all that, who would even hire me?” Cal continued, “it would be such a waste of time and money, so why even bother? I know for a fact that no one would take me seriously as a yoga instructor. I’m just not a natural leader and I know that.”

Do you see how damaging self-limiting beliefs can be? No matter what solution an external person puts in front of you, you will find another blockade to put up between yourself and your dream. 

People who do this are not doing it on purpose either. They are not trying to waste your time with their dreams, to simply squash any suggestions which could lead them closer to said dream. When you are being controlled by a self-limiting belief you simply, truly and whole-heartedly believe that you could not succeed at attaining your dream in any form of reality. You truly believe, with all of your heart, that you could not attain the dream in any situation, with any level of support or with even the most extreme levels of guidance. 

Speaking with a mental health professional is the best place to start when it comes to countering self-limiting beliefs. It can be really easy to discount the positive things or solutions your family and friends say, but it is not so easy to discount cold, hard facts from someone who is able to assess how you think and why. 

A therapist I use to see regularly once asked me to do this technique, which was really eye-opening for me. She asked me to pretend that I was sitting in the empty chair beside myself and to describe who I was as a person, as if it was someone else, not me. 

As I sat there, I looked at this empty chair and envisioned myself sitting there, “Well,” I started off slowly, “Aman is a massive procrastinator, she is lazy, selfish and not a very good friend or relative.” 

“Why do you see her like that?” asked my therapist, “Let’s unpack this procrastination issue, why do you see her as a procrastinator?” 

The fascinating thing my therapist did was that she kept forcing me to see this person as a separate entity, not me talking about myself and kept redirecting me when I spoke about myself. As I started doing the technique, I had to keep walking back a lot of the things I was saying, “Well, she really is not a procrastinator, she gets a lot accomplished in her life, but maybe her major problem is that if she doesn’t complete everything on her list of things-to-do each day, it makes her get really frustrated with herself. Maybe she is just too hard on herself?”

“So what do you think Aman could do, to help alleviate this daily frustration and sadness she is inflicting on herself on an almost daily basis?” asked my therapist. 

“Well, maybe she should expect a more realistic amount of things from herself, rather than a list that is daunting and always really difficult to finalize each day realistically,” I said back. It was an eye-opening experience for me. 

It probably took about ten or fifteen minutes for me to warm up to the technique, but once I started seeing myself as a separate person, I started to see myself in a much more loving way. I started seeing my virtues, recognizing my vices and why I was focusing on my failures more than my successes on a regular basis. Since that therapy session, I never write down more than three tasks for each day to complete. I can also tell when I am under pressure, stressed or anxious because I start creating these cumbersome lists of things to do each day and have to forcefully stop myself. 

When you start assessing where you are unhappy with yourself and your life, you might realize that self-limiting beliefs have a much larger stranglehold on you than were acutely aware of. It is not an overnight fix, but more of a lifelong daily task at redirecting yourself. If you take on this task diligently and make it a daily practice you will make your life much more enjoyable and you may be shocked to realize that you are a happier person because of it. 

When you stop being swayed or stunted by your self-limiting beliefs or when you can at least you can start correcting yourself when you can hear that type of talk appearing, you will find you are happier in your daily existence. 

Learning to Work in Any Environment: You Have the Time to Do Everything You Want

I use to love having everything just right for working. Whether it was at the office, school work at a coffee shop or working from home, I was very meticulous on having everything just so before starting to dive into my deep work. 

This routine worked brilliantly when I was in university because I was completely in charge of my time. I was accountable to almost nothing, other than my schoolwork, so creating the perfect studying, essay writing or exam preparation environment was not only easy, but something I very much looked forward to doing. 

As I started off as a professional, life got a bit more complicated, but it was still fairly easy to schedule my day around my own needs and wants. I was able to work at the local coffee shop, anytime my house felt a bit distracting or my partner too noisy. I was able to set up my office at work with the lighting and layout which best suited me working for seven to nine hours a day. I was able to wake up early and do writing and research in the comfort of a silent, clean, organized home whenever I wanted and did so regularly. 

During my twenties and early thirties, it was extremely easy to produce because that is all I was doing. I was carving out who I was as a writer, professional, and lifelong student. My time was completely my own and I had no one else to account for.

As my life has changed, priorities have shifted and been added, and my life is not so much a singular safari anymore. 

I am accountable to more people.

I am accountable to more responsibilities.

I am accountable to more expectations, self and otherwise.

I have taken on more and more responsibility in my life, mostly by choice, but responsibility all the same.

I also have less control. You cannot control other people the way you can control yourself. I also have more people around, so this pristine house I use to love to utilize is not so common anymore. I am also relied upon more, so running away to a local coffee shop for three hours is not always the easiest thing to do anymore. 

As your life grows and the people who rely on you multiply, your own time must become a greater priority for you, or you will lose it. 

It can be an easy reason to let yourself go. 

It can be the best reason to give up on your own dreams.

Blame your marriage, children, work, commute, for why you are not living the life you want to be living and most people will nod in understanding.

I will not believe you, but I will listen. 

The key to continual success to adaptation. You must be willing to change as your circumstances change, otherwise, you will simply not have the ‘time’ to complete your own goals. 

When I was younger, it was so easy to get everything I wanted done when and how I wanted, but now that this is not the case and it is actually very hard to continually work on myself, I had to adapt.

The biggest challenge for me, especially with writing was I had to take the time whenever I got it. I sometimes sit back and fantasize about the days I use to go to the university library with a fresh coffee, bottle of water, loads of snacks and just work, uninterrupted for six to eight hours. 

I cannot do that anymore, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that my sheer ability to focus has shrivelled away as I have gotten older. The other, more practical reasons, are that my house would always be a mess, my priorities to others would have to be overlooked and my life would not run as seamlessly as I would like it to be. 

Now, when I have thirty minutes or so, I take advantage of it. 

Even fifteen minutes before the next thing I have to do can be valuable, so I utilize it now. Before, when my time was all my own, I use to throw away pockets of fifteen minutes like loose change, but now I scrounge them up and savour them. You can do a lot in fifteen minutes, so quit wasting those moments of potential greatness.

I will work in bed, even though I use to loathe the idea of working in bed, but now I see it as multitasking. By staying in bed, I am able to spend quality time with my partner, while still working. Simply being present is enough for my partner, so why not kill two birds with one stone?

I will write in the evening and afternoon, something which I use to never do because I was a morning person. I am an anytime person now. If I have the time, it is perfectly fine for me to get my work done in said time. 

I will work in those fifteen-minute pockets of time and if something will take less than five minutes, I never write it down anymore, I simply get it done. Whether it is a thank note, a quick confirmation email, phone call to avoid a meeting, I get it done now. I have stopped adding things to my list of life which will take less than six hundred seconds because it is a better use of time, period. 

I am no longer in a position of luxury where I can put all of the things I do not want to do on a post-it and avoid them until the eleventh hour. I need to cross things off the list as quickly as they come in, if possible. 

By learning to adapt to my changing environment, I have allowed myself the ability to be consistent. I am able to work, continue my educational pursuits, and writing, on top of a whole boatload of other responsibilities now. Sure, sometimes my house is not as clean as I want it, or a writing project did not get the four straight hours of uninterrupted time at a coffee shop the way I would have liked, but everything got done. Everything is complete, and that is enough. 

Learning to adapt is what will keep you alive. If you do not adapt, you will kill your own dreams first and become a shell of who you were. You will wistfully look back at who you use to be and use self-limiting beliefs to tell yourself that you cannot be that person anymore. You will say that you simply no longer have the time to work out, write, go to school, get a promotion or whatever your dream is and you will blame your lack of success on your family, obligations or responsibilities. 

How cruel is that? If you have stopped challenging yourself, you only have yourself to blame, so quit blaming the kid, job or house and start looking in the mirror. You will find that all of your problems and solutions will be looking right back at you.