The Best Advice

mirror_smlI don’t know what to do!

Ever been there?

I have.

And usually what I do –  after a good cry –  is reach out to someone I trust who will listen and then give me advice.  I did a lot of that in the midst of the dismantling of my marriage and subsequent dating escapades.  And the best advice I got, parroted back to me things I had said previously, in stronger moments that were important to me.  Because that advice reminded me what I really wanted when I had a clear head.  I could always tell when it was good advice like that and when someone was trying to influencing me away from my own convictions.  I learned who to listen to and who not listen to.  And that became hugely important.  Because as I grew in my ability to discern the good from the bad, I realized something.  My own advice to myself was the best.

The fact that I had this blog to refer back to helped too.  I think it became vitally important for me to write down what I wanted, what I thought I needed and how I wanted to get here.  The more time went by the less I had to ask others and the more I would refer back to my own words.

I’m the only one that knows me well.

I’m the only one who understands ALL of the pain, happiness, and angst I’ve experienced.

We get stuck with others along the way…sometimes because they are family or LIKE family and we simple can’t shed them.  And because of that, they are sometimes the harshest with their judgements and advice.  To those people we have to be the bravest and most gracious.  We have to own up to ALL of who we have been and are right now.  Because they’ve seen a lot of us.  But still – that doesn’t define you.  It is only their filter.  It’s not yours.  You know better.  You know the you they don’t.  And as much as they KNOW you…they don’t know the entire story.

Friends sometimes do a better job at being fair with their advice.  They don’t see themselves in you.  You are not a familial reflection mirroring back an eerily familiar image of themselves.  But it’s also really easy to just show parts of ourselves to our friends.  The cool parts, the tough parts, the vulnerable parts to only a select few.  We shape our conversations so we get the kind of advice we want.  We keep the people who support our view of ourselves closer.  But I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  That is sort of the definition of support.  Why would we want to surround ourselves with people who are constantly at odds with our views?

When my friends ask me for advice I try very hard to do one thing.  Help them see more clearly.  What is the issue?  What have they said about that issue before?  Why?  And how should they apply it to the present.  I think I’m ok at it.

I’ve recently started helping give advice on a website call  and I’ve talked to countless strangers about relationship or personal growth issues.  And I always take my time asking lots of questions before I give any kind of advice.  Because often times the person is looking for help deciding an issue when they already knows the answer.  They just need to allow themselves to follow the logic that displays it in a way that they have to admit it and own it.

We often KNOW what we should do but we like to give ourselves a pass.  Just this once.  And we have excuses ready to support why.  But 9 times out of 10 all it does is extend pain.  I don’t care what is the issue.  I’ve learned this to be very true.

There is a point where we KNOW something and we don’t want to know it.

So we look at every angle trying to find a reason to believe something else.  And 9 times out of 10 it ends in pain…but…it’s very important for us to go through that process for some reason.  Yes it extends our pain and yes we know we’re being stupid…but until we stop fighting our own conviction of what we KNOW…it’s not over in our minds.

It’s a lot like what I wrote at the beginning of 2012.  When someone decides to quit smoking no one needs convince them, and any program they try will work.  Because something has shifted in their heads about the issue.  The process we go through letting go of things…is a mental process.  Letting go actually happens in an instant.

It’s kind of like the process of becoming a Christian is gradual but the moment we decide…is a singular moment and we are IN.

But only we can truly say when that time should be with whatever decision we are faced with.  Our friends and family can preach what they think…and push and prod us in the direction they approve.  But we have to get to the place where we can accept it for the issues and problems – whatever they are….to disappear and be ultimately dealt with.

This past week Harry kind of had one of those moments.  I think it was scary for him.  But he peeled off a layer of his own free will and stepped into owning up to the reality of his life not knowing what his friends or family would say or how they would react.  And it was cool for me to see it.  I not only became his girlfriend to the world as we know it, but I got to meet his cousin and I see this resolve in him now that gives me added confidence we are definitely headed TOGETHER in the right direction.

Sometimes it just takes time to get there.  I knew he was worth the wait.  I knew that even as much as I KNEW him…I knew I didn’t know him as well as he knew himself.  And I knew if I pushed and prodded to get him to where I wanted him to be, it would be counter-productive.  So I tried as hard as I could to be patient.  And my patience paid off.  Patience is not something that comes easily to me.  So I take this as a great victory of growth in my character and a great demonstration of how much I respect this man who I love.

I for one am in the enviable place of being perfectly content with my life and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.  I know I’m not in a valley anymore and I’m cresting a very high mountain top.  I have friends who are hurting, who are wondering what they should do with different issues in their own lives.  They are confused about whether to open up their hearts, or close them off.  And every choice brings with it consequences of that choice.  And sometimes either way there is excruciating pain.  I can think of three people who are in the crux at this very moment of choosing a direction to head.

And this is the best advice I can give to them.

Be true to the you that lays in bed and dreams a dream.  The one only you knows.  Don’t let other people define you.  You know your heart.  You know what you need.  You know it.  And don’t believe lies that lead you away into compromises.  If you aren’t getting what you need ask for it…be honest.  And then work hard with whoever is in your life at staying honest.  If you start selling out…you set yourself up for failure.  It’s not about getting what you want all the time.  It’s about being real all the time.  Hold out for what you know is right instead of giving in to indulge in something you KNOW won’t last.

Being honest is not the same as being selfish.  Because we can honestly want what is right and that can often times be the hardest thing for ourselves to do.  Selfishness is often short-sighted.  Look at the big picture.

Sadly for some that means ending something that has already ended.  That is the part that is hardest.  And it is the part that goes against the grain of my faith.  Let me clarify when I say work hard with whoever is in your life at staying honest…I don’t mean giving up.  I just mean don’t bend so far to make someone else happy that you create misery in your own life.  That is never good.

I know that we all were created with a sense of right and wrong.  We all were created with a need to love and be loved.

So tonight have a heart to heart with yourself and resolve to be honest with yourself first and that will give you the boldness to be honest with others.

Listen to your own best advice.  

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