Expert Explains Why We Don't Take Our Own Advice

Not sure about you, but we've definitely been labeled the therapist of our group at one point or another.

Whether someone's struggling in their relationship, stressed out with school or lacks overall self-confidence, we have a way with words and empathy that somehow gets people through whatever they're fighting.

The Fosters: Jesus and Emma chat

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But as great as we are at doling out guidance to others is as horrible as we are at following it ourselves. Agree? Zivadream founder and certified Behavior Change Specialist, Lynell Ross, explains why we don't take our own advice.

Keep reading for what she has to say.

Sweety High: What makes up "good advice?"

Lynell Ross: I've come to learn that there's no such thing as good advice. The number one thing people resist is being told what to do. The best way to help someone is to ask thoughtful questions that allow the person to reason out the answer themselves. When we come to our own conclusions, we're the only one who can know and feel if we're doing the right thing or not. And then we're responsible for the decisions we make.

Veronica talking angrily to Betty

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SH: How are some people able to dole out great advice on a subject matter they have little experience with?

LR: There are some people who have emotional intelligence and the ability to understand what others are going through, yet can stay objective. They help by seeing the bigger picture and finding answers from a common-sense approach.


SH: Why are we able to dish out great advice to others but fail to use it for ourselves?

LR: First, it's much easier to tell someone to do something than it is to actually do it. For example, if someone comes to you upset by something someone else said and they feel hurt and criticized, your advice is telling them to let it go and not to worry about it. Then someone criticizes you—it's much harder to let it go when it's about us and we're emotionally involved. Or if someone's out of shape and we suggest they start going to the gym, we know we should go ourselves, but somehow just don't feel like it and keep making excuses.

Another reason we don't take our own advice is because we have blind spots to our own behavior. For example, we might work too hard, overeat or overindulge in some way or another, but can't see that we have a problem. We project our thoughts and feelings onto others and tell people not to eat so much, or do this or that, or stay late at the library, but we do the same thing and can't see it. We justify our behavior when we do it, and can't see the harm we're doing to ourselves. This is known as denial.

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SH: When is it okay to offer up unsolicited advice and when should you absolutely steer clear?
LR: If someone struggles in the moment and is about to make a dire mistake when it comes to safety, for example, and you swoop in to tell them what they legitimately need to hear, they might not mind the help. But in most cases, I'd steer clear of offering advice without being asked. People never appreciate being told what to do, especially if they haven't asked you. If you do this often, you may come to be known as a know-it-all.

Lastly, if you offer unsolicited advice to a friend about a breakup, or advise them to leave a friendship and they patch things up, they won't appreciate your insight and may come to resent you.


Need some guidance that didn't come from your mouth? Click HERE for nine clichés that actually provide valuable life advice.