Why You Resist Self-Help Advice
Time to get a bit meta. Checking out self-help material is tough enough but for a lot of people they actively push away self-help advice and people trying to give it out. There are many who quite frankly would rather cut that person or their work out of their lives completely. This is all too common and it's ok. 'You can only help those who choose to listen with an open mind' is all but tattooed on my body. Knowing why you resist self-help advice can help you become more open minded. That is what we will try to achieve here.
OK, let's dive in. Why do you resist listening/reading/watching advice about how to live your life? Why do you even drive away people who try to help? Well there are two elements at play;
1) What the hell do they know? The credibility issue. This is perfectly valid. Why should we listen to people giving advice? They could be wrong. Sure. Absolutely. You should always find out about something or someone before listening to them. Only if they stand up to scrutiny can they be deemed trustworthy with tapping into our fundemental behaviours.
2) It's easier not to listen. What they might say might really hurt you. Being told you are wasting your time or acting improperly when the very thing that might keep you going is knowing or thinking that you know that you are doing the right thing can be crucial. Belief systems keep you going, perhaps, so why do you want someone potentialy knocking that down with their advice? Like a defence mechanism it is better to push it away than let it potentialy hurt you.
Those are the main two elements. Here's my response to them.
1) What do they know? Well first off what criteria do they have to meet for you to listen to them? Do they have to have a doctorate? Maybe, but many doctors and professors get things wrong. Having a high degree doesn't guarantee better advice, only that it is more likely their advice might be more consistent. Still, that means that a title is not a barometer of competence. What if the criteria is actually what they are saying and their overarching theme? My theme is the importance and the integrity of the individual. My theme is self-empowerment by working towards a better potential of the self and finding meaning through the responsibilities we adopt along the way. My theme is that it is better to be good and brave so we do not fall prey to bad people and bad thought patterns because i have fallen prey to it and will never again. My theme is making sure my mistakes never get repeated by anyone and my method of successes are shared with you. And even if you still think that it isn't good enough, well at least listen to an opposing viewpoint so that you can further your pathology; socratic dialogue as it's known. Further entrench yourself in your viewpoints by listening to alternate advice. Maybe, just maybe you will open your mind as you listen to opposing viewpoints and perhaps something unexpected might happen.
2) It's easier not to listen, but that doesn't mean it's better. Sure it hurts being told you are wasting your time and have been for so long but surely it's better to start changing your ways now rather than much, much later or never. It's never too late to start and you have everything to gain. Short term pain for long term success and potential seems like one of the best trades ever. If you are so short-sighted as to disbelieve that trade is good then go right ahead, live that way but don't ever think that when suffering occurs there was nothing you could have done. There is always something you could have done and you pushed it away for the sake of 'feeling better' in the short term. You can do that or you can listen and take responsibility for your past mistakes and use that to be responsible for future success rather than hoping for something else externally to give that to you. It's called chasing a dream because that means you are living one in order to chase it. It takes a certain degree of humility to accept you have done things wrong but rather than blaming yourself you should be proactive and start changing the stupid things you're doing. It takes a desire to make your life better. If advice is trying to tell you how to make your life better then take it!
We resist taking advice because it almost seems like we waste our time if we don't. Wasting time is actually an awful thing to do and even though we waste time we hate ourselves for doing it. How often have you found yourself engrossed in watching a TV series on Netflix only to find out you've just wasted the last 4 hours watching TV and doing nothing else? Easier to shrug your shoulders and play the next episode. Self-help advice will tell you to be proactive, if it's the right sort of advice. Self-help advice will tell you that wasting time is awful. Think about right now. How many hours a day do you waste on average? 4? 6? 8? Times that by 7 and you will find you could be wasting almost 40 hours a week not doing something productive. 40 hours a week is about £360 on minimum wage in total wasted. That's almost £19,000 per year you are wasting away. Times that by many years and you actually realise that you are rich, you just don't go for it. Better to not know that? I don't think so.
Self-help advice is tough love. It should be because that's what will get you over the line to start pushing for the true potential you actually have. Pushing away self-help advice and people trying to give it to you means you don't like yourself enough to help make you feel and act better. Feel like you matter, feel like you are responsible for yourself and you will want all the useful advice around to help make you a better and greater person. It's OK to feel annoyed about your shortcomings of the past but use it to make your future better. The alternative is much worse. It's up to you, but if you look honestly and objectively you know that the choice is pretty obvious. Listen, learn, be humble, be open, be willing, change for the better and be a better you for doing so. Your future and better self thanks you for it.