Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mind your own beeswax!

I don't know that I've ever blogged about this before. Maybe I have. I'm going to get on a soapbox today. A big one. And then, I want you to comment and tell me if you agree or disagree. Deal?

I'm a fairly independent person. Okay, scratch that. I'm VERY independent. I think, along with an independent personality, comes extreme decisiveness. It doesn't take me long to make decisions, and once I've made them, I act on them almost immediately.

Case in point: One morning I decided I wanted an English Mastiff, after never having considered getting another dog or a mastiff. That afternoon, we had Gladys.

That's just how Brian and I work. We don't hemhaw around about decisions. That can be good or bad, but it's just the way we are.

Now, here's where I might step on a few toes-

Once I've made a decision, I don't want any input about it. I don't care what others experiences were. I don't care who knows what about whom or what. I've made my decision. I didn't ask for a panel discussion.

Obviously, this is an issue that's lit a fire under me on many occasions. If you've been in a serious medical situation, then you probably understand. People, who you don't even know, come out of the woodwork to put in their two cents about how you should be treated, where you should be treated, whether or not you should be treated. It's endless. And absurd.

And, I'm not just talking medical decisions. I'm referring to any unsolicited advice. If I didn't ask you, then I don't care what you have to say. So, just don't even say it.

This may sound harsh, and please know that I'm not talking about Godly counsel. I think that there is a place for Godly counsel in all of our lives. That is a case when we've invited others to take a close view and offer input. I need that. We all do.

This is more of a discussion of, "Do you appreciate others unsolicited advice, or not?"

So, let me know. Am I alone in this? It just frustrates me to no end to have someone in my business!


Sarah said...

I am absolutely, 100% with you. I'm a very unconfrontational person but this brings out the lioness in me! Did I ask you? No. So do I want your opinion or your story that you are convinced is more interesting than mine? No. I confess that I dread being pregnant/a parent for this reason.

Anonymous said...

I do NOT appreciate others unsolicited advice, unless, as you said, it is Godly counsel or a "spiritual correction" of some sort (although truthfully I don't appreciate that right away either - that needs some time to sting first, then later the appreciation comes!)

This post hit a nerve with me as my husband and I have decided to homeschool our children after over A YEAR of prayer (can't say we are impulsive, lol). He and I know it is what God is leading us to do. It is a MIRACLE that He has changed my heart to even be doing this much less be excited about it. Confirmation after confirmation has dropped into our laps - it is the right thing. So when I share this news with someone, especially a Christian, I loathe the times I hear why it is a terrible idea, bad for the kids, how I will never have any time to my self, etc etc. I need support in this time in my life, not criticisms and doubts!

Through this very specific decision-making process, rude comments have bothered me so much that I have made it a goal of mine to have words of encouragement for others when they share about their lives. If asked, I will give my opinion, but I am trying to be VERY careful not to have any sort of a judgmental word if the decision is made. It is like saying that they aren't close enough to hear God's voice, or that I know more about their life/situation than they do....ok, off my soapbox now ;) Beth in AZ

Lisa said...

I couldn't agree more! I especially get irritated when I specifically tell someone what my decision is and why I made it, and yet they continue on telling me not only their opinion but about all the negative things regarding my decision! I literally just had this situation happen to me over lunch and with a person I had just met. Quickly made me not want to interact with that person ever again.

Snickerman said...

The key is advice 'after a decision is made." After I make a decision I don't want additional information, I took the information I had and made the decision. I may appreciate advice before I make a decision to help guide me, but not after. Advice is worth what you pay for it --nothing -- if it is free advice from a friend.

Cheri said...

Being very honest here, I let it slide. First, I realize every single person thinks they are doing their best or they wouldn't open their mouth. They feel strongly about their position or they'd let it slide (with a few exceptions, and I know who those folks are, the ones who have to comment on everything, period).

If I am firm in my decision, then other's opinions don't sway me. I smile and say thankful. Sweetly. It stops them in their tracks. What keeps them going is my avoidance or argument.

I know that at the end of the day, the results of MY decision will show them to be the right one. I would hate to have ill-will and negative feelings intertwined.

One of my favorite sayings:

"People do better when they know better".

I guess with my chronic illness and 24/7 burning/searing nerve pain, I just don't and I simply can't harbor irritation for folks who are just trying to help. At the end of the day, I respect myself and my decisions and I always realize they MIGHT have a point, so why not listen. How else will God show us we are wrong? Are we controlling how He would us? What if He sent person after person and we held out this "don't share with me" stance? I think we can rely on our strength, to be able to listen with an open heart, prayerfully consider what was on THEIR heart, and then move forward without irritation. I wasn't always like this and definitely got better with wisdom/age. It helps me to put myself in their shoes....and again, the nitpicky nellies, I avoid. But general loving friends and family? I listen.

If I had something on my heart to tell them, I would ask the same - polite listening and prayerful consideration. At the end of the day, I would respect their decision but also hope to be heard.

Example: My mother flat out asked me if I would consider having my leg cut off (to stop the incessant nerve burning). She was dead serious and just wanted to see my suffering go away. I could have easily freaked out at that question. She didn't fully understand that my choice of spinal cord stimulator WAS the latest and greatest, bionic woman kind of option. She just needed more information.

But I'm an old 44 year old (lol) who had her life turned upside down forever (no hope of relief unless by miracle of God) 6 years ago. I sit and endure the most severe of burning nerve pain minute by minute. I have to control my negative emotions or my pain gets worse. Sure changes a person.

Life and Times . . . said...

I agree. My husband and I are a lot like you and Brian. And once I've made up my mind, please leave me alone. We recently decided to adopt from Bulgaria, and the decision to do this was made rather quickly. It was not made without prayer or wise counsel, but when we decided we were ready to adopt we were ready. We started the process, but we keep getting comments about how we should adopt domestically or comments about all the things that could be wrong with our child. Truly it has only been a few people, but I feel like saying my your own business. However, I usually just say something to the effect of "this is what's right for us" and leave it at that. I do not want nor do I appreciate unsolicited advice.

Anna said...

I agree with you 100%! When I make a decision, it's done. While it's nice to get input when you ask for it, I get aggrevated when people offer unsolicited advice. I don't think that it's being ungrateful but rather that sometimes (or many times) it's not other people's business. I'm very strong-willed, but I'm also smart enough to realize that my way is not always the right way, so it's not a matter of "I'm right, you're wrong."

Jeze said...

I'm in the minority with Cherie. I don't always *like* unsolicited advice, but I've found that when it comes from those who are older/wiser/more knowledgeable (and they are plenty!), they usually have a point that is at least worth thinking about, even if I'm 100% sure of a decision. I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt--rarely do they offer advice out of maliciousness.

I didn't always think like this, though. Not at all, actually.

k_stin said...

I think people tend to give unsolicited medical advice because they aren't really sure what to say or do to help and are trying in some way. Maybe they are relating something they don't know about that well to the only frame of reference they DO have.

Painting 4 Him said...

Lindsey, As you started this particular blog--I was a bit concerned but then you said you appreciated Godly counsel.

I tend to ask people too much what they think. I used to be more like you until I got harshly rebuked and now I tend to more err on the side of caring !

Anonymous said...

I'm not too crazy about it myself--especially AFTER I've made a decision....then it just makes me second guess myself (and, I'm ashamed to say---sometimes, God). I appreciate it when someone who knows me well offers input as I'm seeking to make a decision, but those people are very limited in number. And, I've been known to rattle some there when I've gone counter to what they are advising. Sometimes, I want to quote my brother: "It's noneya" (as in--"It's none of your business"), but I'm not too bold in doing that!

Anonymous said...

I think it's a tough question to answer "on paper" because a significant factor in any response depends on the delivery of advice. Voice tone, expression, attitude - things that can only be assessed face to face.

That said, generally after I've made a decision and choose to share it I hate it when someone misinterprets it as solicitation for their opinion. Not so tactfully, I usually respond that I wasn't looking for opinions. I don't suffer fools lightly.

I am also a cancer survivor. 10 years since diagnosis btw. The vast majority of people are uncomfortable interacting with cancer patients and feel more helpful if they can offer what they consider safe advice. If that advice is general in nature I let it slide, but if someone starts in on specifics, such as you should DO this or DO that or SEE this doctor I am not shy about cutting them off. I don't suffer fools lightly. Starting to see a pattern here? :)

Of course I TRY to do it politely and END the conversation as quickly as possible. I resent the burden of civility put on ME. People should think before they open their mouths, but sadly it isn't the case.

So I agree with you, but I think your (my) effort should be in thinking about and controlling the delivery.

Good luck with your new home btw. How absolutely EXCITING!

Paula said...

I have found that really people just want to be heard. I grin and smile and say "thank you". They just mostly mean well.
We decided, starting this January, that we are not telling people what's going on unless it is absolutely necessary. The less drama the better. Some people are just asking and giving their opinion to be polite. If they don'
t know, they won't give it.
Continuing to storm His throne for you daily.

Whitney said...

Yes, it irritates me to no end. Or when you make a big decision and want people to be excited about it with you and then they just go an say something about how they wish you'd done something else. OH. MY. Goodness. Gets me going.

Sandy Gillett said...

The opposite of independent is dependent. There are extremely independent people and there are extremely dependent people and there are a whole lot of people in between. All people have the same basic need to be loved, accepted, and valued. Sharing experiences and knowledge and opinions are a way of communicating and forming relationships and a way of giving of ourselves. It's a way of expressing how we feel and an effort to give comfort and solice, and share empathy, joy, and excitement and hope that we are accepted. All relationships are a give and receive moment by moment encounter. Whether they are casual acquaintances or develop into intimate friendships. It's a part of giving of ourselves and accepting another person.

No doubt you have received more advice than a whole group of people receive in their entire lifetimes all put together. But know that most people just care and want in some way to feel close to you.

In order to keep channels of communication open and continue to share Godly wisdom and advice we have to accept and dish out a whole bunch of fleshly advice.

The bottom line is love, acceptance, surrender and gratitude.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

YES! Very very frustrating!!! It's good to talk to people who can relate. The problem with this mostly comes at church.

This lights a fire under me as well. It's completely different when it's someone I'm close to who knows me really well and I've come to trust them with my personal business... or when it's someone I've SOUGHT OUT for the advice/help.

I know it's largely due to my independent nature as well. Because of that, this just doesn't sit well with me.

But something I've been rolling over in my mind for a while... I went through a LOT about 4 years ago and people... I barely know... at church still pry into my personal business on a weekly basis.

It's so distracting and discouraging for me to keep being reminded of things I've worked VERY hard to move on from, always being put in this position where it feels as though I have to convince them everything's still fine... so they'll move on and I can return my focus to the REAL reason I come to church: to rest in and focus on God. It seems like no matter how I respond, they will not move on.

I'm going to assume that most people do this from a well-meaning heart (though if I did it it would not be for that reason) and aren't simply being nosy, but I've been rolling this question around in my mind for a while now: Is there a reason this "help" often feels like codependent help/advice/concern to me?

Being around most of these people makes me feel really low, depressed, and uncentered... and distracted from God. It doesn't bring about anything good and seems so unnecessary/inappropriate to come from people I've never PERSONALLY shared myself with. Is this an issue with me, them, or what? Is there codependence involved in these types of interactions or does it just feel that way to me because I'm SO independent?

I'm actually considering starting over at a new church... this feels like an unhealthy cycle for me to stay in and is preventing me from feeling like myself when I'm there.

There's a phrase that I try to remember and think others, especially Christians who want to make a difference, should also remember:

Forget trying to help people and just try to be harmless.