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Do This Not That

3 Sep

It seems everyone is willing to give us advice. Sometimes we ask for it and when that happens we may be glad to receive it. Other times those around us may offer it because they think we need to hear it. We may not want their advice so when it comes unsolicited we may not appreciate it. Even though we are the only ones who know exactly what’s happening in our lives, others sometimes think they know better and will tell us not only what they think, but what they think we should do. We may take from their comments whatever we find helpful, but we aren’t compelled to listen to anyone’s suggestions about our lives if we don’t want to. We are free to live each day as we choose, even if that doesn’t match what someone else thinks is best for us.

It’s natural to want to be helpful when we care about someone. If we see them doing something we think is the wrong decision, or something we think will hurt them, we may want to step in and tell them how to change things before something goes wrong. We care about them, and we don’t want them to suffer. But there are limits to what we should do, and certainly limits to what we can do. Perhaps we have a friend who makes the same mistake over and over again, and always gets hurt. If we see them headed down that same, tired road again we may want to stop them before things go wrong. We can talk to them about their decisions, and we can offer our advice, but if they don’t accept it, we have to let it go. It’s hard to walk away when we think we can help, but if they don’t want the advice, it won’t help anyway.

We can find ourselves giving advice without thinking about it. If we see someone doing something we don’t agree with, or something we don’t think will work, we might just speak up. It’s fine to give suggestions but we must remember that a suggestion isn’t an order. The receiver doesn’t have to listen to us, and we need to respect their choices. We never really know the entire story of why anyone does anything. There are often extenuating circumstances affecting their decisions, but even if there is nothing more than what we can see, the choice is theirs to make. We all get to make our own choices, good or bad. It’s up to us.

Today if you’re getting advice you haven’t asked for you may choose to follow it or let it go. Be thankful to those who think enough of you to offer their help, and then choose what’s best for you. If you find yourself giving advice, remember that your suggestions may not be followed. In either case, it doesn’t mean the advice is bad. It just means we all get to decide what we’ll do on our own. Getting it or giving it, advice is just a suggestion. Take it or leave it, it’s up to us. You know what’s best for you. Follow that.

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