Mind Your Own Business!
Have you ever wanted to say that to someone who gives you unsolicited advice or constructive criticism? I bet some familiar faces are popping up in your head as you read this. Feeling anger is a natural reaction in these situations. Being told what you should do or could have done most likely makes you feel like you’re being talk down to. It’s as if the other person is really saying, “You don’t have a clue as to what you’re doing so I’ll tell you what to do.” What are you 8 years old and need to be taught a lesson!?
If you ever did say to the person to mind his/her business, you probably got a whole lot of defensiveness in return and heard him/her say that he/she was only trying to help. That may be true to a degree but typically it’s about the advice giver’s need to feel better about him/herself. It’s a way to feel important and needed by you. However, the result it produces alienates you because it creates a power imbalance in the relationship:
Friend with advice -- superior, all knowing, has the answers to your problems
You -- inferior, incompetent, inadequate
What do you do? If this triggers anger in you, set boundaries with the unsolicited advice giver. You can say something like, “I know the advice is meant to help but when I’m told what to do or what I’m doing wrong, it brings up issues for me -- it makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. What I need is to be supported by asking how I’m doing or if there’s anything you could do. Is that possible?”
There’s no attacking or judging the person so he/she most likely won’t argue with you. And if he/ she has any sensitivity he/she’ll understand what you’re saying. By voicing your truth like this, you’re empowering yourself while maintaining healthy boundaries. Is it ever okay to give unsolicited advice? Only if you feel that someone is endangering him/herself such as if the person is on a self-destructive path. But do it with love and concern and not from a place of righteousness.
Copyright © Sho Aoyagi 2013
These articles are meant to be informative and not to be taken as advice. Every person’s situation is different and the articles may not pertain to your speciﬁc situation.
Also, before dealing with any issue with another person or before attempting to look at your own issues, it’s important to consult with an appropriate professional for guidance.