randomling: Zoe (Firefly). "dangerous beauty" (dangerous beauty)
[personal profile] randomling
I've been meaning to write this post for a while.

It's partly because I'm quickly coming to realise that making my feelings on advice clear is surprisingly crucial to me feeling safe in my own journal-space. It's also partly because it's a useful thing to know about me more generally. And posting here not only has the benefit of explaining it once, in once place, so I can link to it, but also of getting me to talk about it so I maybe get some more clarity on it myself.

The basic position is this: I do not like unsolicited advice.

There are lots of reasons for this, some of which I'll cover below. The most key points, I guess, are that I use my journal as a place to process things for myself and that I tend to ask for advice on specific topics when I need it.

I often post about things in my life that are hard, painful or unresolved. I know that many of my readers are good-hearted people who will read these posts and want to contribute something meaningful, to offer a fix. And I appreciate this impulse and the caring behind it, but I still do not like advice unless I have asked for it. If you read something of mine, and it makes you want to help, thank you; I'd ask that you express it in a different way. Offers of hugs, sympathy, or just saying that you hear me: all of that is great. But anything that begins with "You should" or "You just need to" or "Why don't you" or "Have you tried" doesn't land well with me.

I do sometimes ask for advice. When I do ask for advice, I do my best to communicate exactly what advice I am asking for. If you're not sure whether or not I want advice, or whether I want advice on the thing you've got advice for, please ask me.

In summary: please, please do not give me advice. It pushes a really big button which I would prefer to avoid.

There's more under the cut, which is my processing about the nature of this pattern and is totally optional.

Here are some of the things I feel when I get unsolicited advice.

Annoyed. This is partly because, when I have not asked for it, communicates to me a lack of faith in my ability to fix the problem for myself, or work out what the most useful actions would be in my situation. When the advice is inappropriate, I feel more annoyed. That's probably because in my head, I interpret advice as instructions, and I am irritated that someone has seen fit to hand down instructions without fully understanding the situation.

Embarrassed. One reason for the embarrassment is that my head tells me that if someone is offering me advice, they must see me as weak - this is related to me seeing a lack of faith in my ability to fix my own problems. It compounds my existing anxiety that posting about my problems publicly makes me look weak. I am also embarrassed about my annoyance, and my lack of communication on the advice issue. In my head, I should simply start reacting better to the advice, or I should speak up about it, because I can't justify annoyance at people who couldn't possibly know they had crossed a line. (I'm working on allowing myself to be annoyed, and, as you can see, working on communicating the problem.) This all leads to feeling it is impossible for me to respond to a comment that has set me off in this way (which is why I rarely respond to advicey comments).

Sad. Just... general sad. Sad that I have this pattern. Sad that I can't communicate about the pattern. Sad that I can't just write in a way that doesn't invite advice. Sad that I have the problems in the first place. Lots of sad.

Anxious. Anxious about posting more about my problems and potentially triggering this whole mess all over again. Which leads to me not posting at all, sometimes for months on end.

Tired. Oh God. This again?

Yes, I know none of this is rational. Great swathes of my head are not rational. I have hang-ups and thought patterns and inner demons and all sorts. This is just one of them, but it's probably the one that affects my journaling most deeply.

Yeah, the request for no advice applies to this post. With bells on.

Date: 2012-10-14 08:26 pm (UTC)
ghoti: fish jumping out of bowl (Default)
From: [personal profile] ghoti
i heart you dear wombat.

Date: 2012-10-14 08:43 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Thank you for laying this out so clearly and articulately. Would you feel comfortable if I link to it on occasion? I tend more toward advice-giving than advice-undesiring, but sometimes I get unsolicited advice myself that's either inappropriate or simply not what matches my needs at the time (sometimes I just want a listening ear, not a fixing mind) and I have had trouble finding the right words to say 'thanks but no thanks' when I am in that kind of state.

Also, re: me being advice-giving type, please gently bop me on my metaphorical nose if I thoughtlessly cross such a line with you. I try to pay close attention when people say 'no advice!', but sometimes I make mistakes or am inadvertently projecting a little and trying to fix for others what I wish to fix in myself, and that is emotionally imposing & not how I want to be in the world.
Edited (primarily fixing grammatical error in final line) Date: 2012-10-14 10:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-10-14 09:38 pm (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
Thank you. And: this is a beautiful piece of informative writing, so thank you for that too.

Date: 2012-10-15 01:42 pm (UTC)
shadowspar: Picture of ouendan (\o/)
From: [personal profile] shadowspar
Hear, hear. This is a fscking expert post. =)

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