Wednesday, August 30

Advising Myself

I've been told I give good advice. Sometimes I just give it unsolicited, and I'm sure it annoys people, but I find I can't help going into advice mode. Often though people come to me with questions and I impart advice. When I was in high school I was convinced I should become a Therapist, I gave such good advice so why not make it a career? Part of the reason I enrolled at Clark University was its well known Psychology program (the only place where Freud spoke before the US disgusted him too much and he high tailed it out of here). Something changed that summer and I decided English would better suit me and made my path in that major. But, I didn't stop giving advice. I honestly don't know where it comes from/how I do it, I just know what to say and how to say it and how to guide people to do it.

I've had IM conversations with friends in which I type out what I think they should say, using I statements, making sure to be assertive and they'll ask me to email it to them so they can print it out and have it when they need to have the conversation. Recently a work colleague has had me edit/proof a couple of hard to write emails. Even one of my older work colleagues who is dating will ask my advice on relationships and men. Actually I frequently listen to and give advice to many of my single friends, even though I've really never dated and have been with the same man for 6 years. When a close friends Mother passed away 2 months after my Father had she called me and asked me to let everyone know. When I called and told one person there immediate response was, "What should I do?" And, being me, I gave her advice. This was more relevant since I had just been through the same experience, and she still felt comfortable asking me, maybe knew I'd give her good advice. Like I said, I don't know where the knowledge comes from or why it’s so easy for me to impart relevant advice.

But, this isn't meant to be a brag fest about how great I am at giving advice. I've been exploring it, in myself, trying to figure out why I can do it, where it comes from and at the same time making sure I'm really listening to people and not just spewing out advice when what they really want is for someone to listen. I think I figured out that the ability to give it no matter the situation and how it relates to my life experience comes from my Dad. He's was always able to look at situations and understand everyone involved and the best outcome for each party. He took the most unlikely candidates for jobs and made it work for the manager and the employee and always stayed connected to both. My mom frequently talks about his ability to make her feel better no matter the situation and talk her through how to proceed. Even with me, I could tell him about drama in my personal life with friends or colleagues and he'd give great advice even though a female teenager and her friends are probably one of the farthest demographics from his. One of my Brother's friends once sought him out to talk about life and his future, and his parents to this day still remember fondly how helpful he was. And that is all in me, too. I'm so happy I realized how connected I am to him in this way, and now as I fill those shoes, a real piece of him will live on. One of the last things I told him was that I would keep making him proud and now I not only have a tangible way to do it, but it allows others who can recognize that piece of him in me to be proud of him.

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