How to Handle Frustrating Advice
Posted on November 2nd, 2016
It was the fourth of July. I was feeling down because my entire household went to watch the fireworks while I was stuck on the couch with my swollen knee, locked brace and feeling nauseous from the painkillers. I tried to stay positive because I knew I was healing but, despite my attempts, I felt a range of negative emotions because I was still so far from being able to do all the physical things that I love.
A friend called and I expressed how I was feeling. My friend was very empathetic and clearly tried to help by saying that I would be better in a blink of an eye. My friend’s kind thoughts didn’t make me feel better and, in fact, actually made me frustrated because I already knew I was going to heal. The point my friend didn’t appreciate, even from the stand point of kindness, was that I missed my body that I could move freely and without pain. I guess that I simply wanted validation that my emotions were normal. So my message is that while you are recovering, even if someone doesn’t validate your feelings, know that the emotions you are experiencing are ok.
Injury or no injury, it happens when people attempt to comfort their friends and family with their best advice. The problem, however, is that often the person doesn’t really want advice. All they really want is someone to compassionately listen and be there for them.
While you can’t change what other people say, here are some things I did during my recovery (that can also be applied to life) whenever someone would try to comfort me in a way that only made me feel more frustrated:
Understand where they are coming from
If a person responds to whatever you’re going through in a way that makes you feel frustrated, don’t take it out on them. Breathe and remember that they are trying to be there for you. It might be useful to use a grounding mudra, like Gyana Mudra as a way to instill inner peace. Practice compassion to the other person as they clearly don’t fully appreciate the situation since they haven’t gone through it. When you remember that this is the best way they can think of to show you love, you realize that getting upset with them is not the answer.
Stay your course
When you’re feeling down it’s easy to get even more worked up when someone says the wrong thing. The issue with letting it get to you, however, is that you are already going through something. You don’t need to add stress to the situation. Don’t let anything deter you from your journey. Detach from the situation, move on and focus on what you can do to make yourself feel better. Maybe it’s simply by lighting some scented candles or listening to an uplifting podcast.
Learn from the situation
I’m far from perfect. I’ve made the mistake of saying what I think I should say versus really listening. Learn from the situation when a friend gives you unsolicited advice that isn’t what you need in the moment. Next time someone you know is going through any type of hardship, imagine the situation they are describing as if it were happening to you. Feel what they are saying before you speak. Often you’ll find that the best thing to do is express that you’re there for them and to listen to them as they vent whatever they are feeling. We don’t always have to articulate through words, energy does wonders.