Posted by: sialater | August 12, 2009

Advice Columnist

(I was stuck on a blog idea so Kitten told me to write about how he’s always asking me for advice.)

No, I’m not really one, though I seem to play one on TV. Do you ever have one of those friends that you can tell anything to? The kind you can go to with any problem, no matter how bizarre or trivial and she’ll listen without judging and try to give you the most logical, best advice she can?

Apparently, for my friends, I’m the Dear Abby in their lives. Now, the thing is, I don’t have a psychology degree, I’m a writer. While that makes me a student of human nature, it doesn’t mean I can adequately understand most of it, but I do understand my friends, or think I do. Which is probably why I do give decent advice to them, if I do say so myself. And they must think so, too, since I continue to have repeat visitors.

But, the thing is, I don’t actually give them advice. I ask them questions about their situation, leading questions, granted, but I don’t tell them what to do. It’s a conversation where they’re telling me their situation and I’m probing for details and leading them to what they think they should do. I just rephrase the conclusion they just came to in their conversation with me so that it sounds good to them and they stop doubting themselves.

Most people already know how to help themselves. What they really need is a non-judgmental shoulder to lean on for a moment and help them see the clear path.  I don’t give advice, I help you read your own map and give you a pit-stop on the way to the conclusion you’ve already reached, you just needed to know it was the right one.

I can’t really give examples since that would violate their confidentiality.  Even if I changed their names, like Kitten, they would still be recognizeable to our mutual friends.  You’d be surprised how small some internet communities actually are.   But I’ve been there for some truly earth-shattering drama from some of them and tried to help them wade through it as best I could, usually by just listening and not judging.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to be your sister’s advice columnist.  I’ve tried to just shut up and listen, but I’m usually too busy telling her what to do to listen; because when it’s your sister, you feel like you have a personal stake in their happiness.  Which isn’t true, by the way.  Just like anyone else, they need to live their own lives.  Katydid, if you read this, I’ll try to do better.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for trying. I’ve decided no one can give me advice on my own life. I must do what’s right for ME. Everyone else’s advice is based on the person they think is ME but I’m not always who people think I am. Therefore, I will ask no one for advice. How’s this working for me? Well, whether I ask for advice or not, people (your mother) still seem to think they know best and can tell me how to live my life. So, I’ll just stay to myself.

    • Well, sweetie, that’s the point. It’s the art of giving a shoulder to lean on and not giving advice.

      Just don’t ask me for any. 😉

      And I am not your mother.


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