Why Giving Advice Is Not Always Helpful


I used to be the person that when someone was in pain or had an issue, I would immediately jump in to give advice or "help" them to "fix" it. I didn't realize then how damaging that can actually be. Going through what I have, I began to realize that most of the time when people give me unsolicited advice (unless it's someone who is part of my therapeutic team) it either irritates me or makes me feel worse.

This idea was something that often came up in program - most times, the person sharing their problems does not want someone telling them what to do. Most of the time, they just want to get their story out there. They just want to be seen or heard, and for someone they trust to simply hold space for them. It's taken me awhile to put this to use in my own life, but it has been something I am consciously trying to implement. I'm nowhere near perfect at it, or able to remember this every time someone I love is struggling, but I'm trying.

Automatically jumping in and giving advice implies that there is something wrong with the way that person is feeling or the issue the person is trying to work through. It gives the impression that where they are at is not okay. It can make them feel like whatever they are doing is wrong, or that they should be doing better. As hard as it is to see someone in pain, you need to trust that they are going to be ok. However uncomfortable they may be feeling, they are exactly where they need to be at this moment. 

While they may not handle it in the way we would or think they should, it is not for us to decide for them. As long as our own boundaries are being respected, it is best to step back and support loved ones as they do their own work, rather than telling them how to do it. We are all on unique journeys. We all need to figure out how to live through each moment in order to grow.

If someone is going through something, give them love. Give them support. Give them space to be seen. Give them your trust and faith that you believe they can get through it. Tell them you are there for them if they need it. Ask if they need anything. But unless they ask for it, think twice about giving them advice.