I posted the following yesterday on my Facebook just as a musing sort of post, and I got several really positive responses, so I’m sharing here where it’s more accessible to others:
Why do we think we have to follow the advice of others before checking in with ourselves? This is something that really needs to be explored because it affects so many different situations.
Why are we walking through our lives feeling like we don’t have confidence in our own perspective — that someone else’s perspective is better or more sound than our own take on things with respect to a situation they don’t fully understand (because they’re not going through it themselves)?
“I just nod and smile when given the dumb advice that I used to think I had to follow.”
^This is a common sort of response from mothers, who think they have to follow well-meaning advice from all and sundry when the first new baby comes and then they have their own experiences and realize that they’re the ones who know best after they have to figure it all out on their own. They learn what works for them and they have confidence in that.
I think when we feel like we have to take the advice of others even when it runs counter to our own wishes and desires, it can create situations where we end up feeling resentful and angry at the people whose advice we took. It appears to me to be symptomatic of a lack of self-worth and self-confidence, but also a lack of understanding that you are responsible for your own actions.
If I take someone’s advice, then I’m responsible for that decision whether that advice was appropriate to the situation or not. Holding the advice-giver responsible for choices you make is inappropriate.
You can be angry at feeling like you have no other choice but to take the advice of a supervisor or manager or professor or advisor or parent or doctor, but be angry at the situation and not at yourself or at the perceived authority figure who likely means well. Blaming them hurts you, too.
I don’t know… I think I’m just really confused with the whole notion of being “weak-willed” or not having a “strong personality.” I don’t really understand that phenomenon. I know life situations are far more complicated than that (because strong personalities get cowed in many situations for various reasons), but just taking it down to the idea of someone with a weak will of their own… I don’t understand that and don’t understand how that is a helpful thing to have.
It would be wonderful if we were all fairly confident in our own decision-making abilities that we wouldn’t fall prey to thinking we weren’t accountable for the decisions we make or that we wouldn’t be able to be so easily brainwashed as a species or as individuals.
How can we instil critical thinking skills from the get-go rather than having to wait until university? How can we instil confidence in our children so that we don’t have to do this later in life? How can we help each other get in touch with our own take on things and provide support rather than co-opting a situation and trying to get that friend or daughter or son of yours to do what you want them to do with their lives?
Ach, if I had time, I’d break it all down into talking about insecurities and egos and resentment and anxiety and fear (oh god the fear) and relationships with authority figures and responsibilities of authority figures and responsibilities we have to ourselves and to each other, but I don’t have time. So this is my shorthand soapbox.