Three days before I met Em, I broke it off with a guy that I’d been dating for three weeks. From the way he approached me, through to the dates, calls/texts, I had a lot of misgivings about him. Trouble was, my friends felt that I was being “hasty” and “picky”. Throw in that he was a doctor, and they thought I was crazy to tell him to jog on. They advised me to stick it out and be more patient. Given the number of concerns I had about his behaviour and the fact that, well, I didn’t really like him, this was bad advice.

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about some of the reasons why [mostly] well-meaning loved ones give bad advice, and why we don’t have to follow it.

Also, I mention in the episode that I will be in New York on March 16th (tomorrow). Drop in and say hi, meet other readers/listeners and hang out with me over a cuppa. Location: Le Pain Quotidien, 931 Broadway, New York, NY 10010 from 10-11.15am

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • When loved ones give advice that feels off, or, yes, downright bonkers, we often feel as if we can’t question it for fear of hurting their feelings. Because they’re the ones giving the advice, they’re seen as being authoritative even though they’re not.
  • When loved ones give bad advice that ignores our wellbeing or realit, it’s driven by a few key reasons. 1) They live by that same advice. 2) They’re almost ‘playing house’ with you from the position of being seemingly happy and sorted in their own lives. 3) They’re projecting their insecurities. 4) Their advice is tainted by biases, assumptions, etc.
  • It’s totally normal to seek advice and feedback from loved ones. When we feel uncertain, we’re often looking to validate concerns or our position. Some loved ones can also be really good at posing questions that challenge our thinking without belittling us. When there’s a pattern of feeling besieged by feedback, it’s crucial to consider what motivates us to seek advice in the first place.

Is our advice-seeking combined with a pattern of routinely doubting ourselves and struggling to listen to our intuition?

  • Also, there’s nothing wrong with seeking advice and feedback from loved ones. We shouldn’t, however, seek these from anyone at the expense of (and in lieu of) listening to ourselves.
  • Everybody has different comfort levels. Someone who is acclimatised to drama in their relationships is, of course, going to give you advice that suggests that you’re making a big deal or that it will ‘blow over’. Relative to their experience, they’ll think your drama is run of the mill. Us saying that what we’re experiencing is unhealthy might feel like a judgement of their relationship (it isn’t).
  • In situations where we’re told that we’re hasty/picky/needy in response to expressing concern or discomfort, very often the person’s advice is based on their situation. It’s about what they’re willing to put up with, their baggage, not our wellbeing.

Many women have been socialised to believe that someone with symbols of status and security is a ‘good catch’.

  • When friends and family hear that a woman is dating a man that ticks the proverbial boxes, they can’t understand why she would want to walk away from that situation.
  • Sometimes what skews the advice that loved ones give are assumptions and presumptions that flirt with prejudice. For example: single mother, age, appearance. So, they encourage us to proceed because they believe that we’re lucky that someone wants to give us a chance!
  • Some people experiment with our life. It’s like they’re playing Barbies or something, and trying to make a rom-com out of our experiences. They might be bored and get excited by the drama of the situation. They live vicariously through our dilemma without having to deal with the consequences. And, yes, they often offer advice that they themselves would not follow. ‘Wait it out, be more patient’.
  • Be careful of spending too much time around people who say out loud some of the worst things that you say to yourself within

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