When was the last time you received advice? Recall that experience for a minute, and then choose one of these maxims:
- The worst vice is advice
- Feedback is a gift
Which one did you go for?
I’ve been pondering about this for years. When is it okay to ignore counsel? Equally when should we take it on board and act on it?
Here's what I ask myself whenever I receive any type of guidance. Is it coming from an inner place of peace? If not, then it is not advice but something else. Here is what it could be:
A personal complaint dressed up as advice. It is subjective and very much about them, not me. Something I did pissed them off, made them insecure, et cetera.
What they say is not to be dismissed of course, but it has to be screened and edited before it informs my interactions with just that individual. We can’t and shouldn’t try to please everyone, lest we become trite and irrelevant.
It's when someone dispenses advice as part of an authority role they're supposed to fulfil.
I see this in many Yoga teachers, especially the younger ones. Small aside: When Yoga moved to the West it lost a key ingredient: Mastery. Disciples became clients. Gurus became 200-hour certified instructors. Classes became a platform for them to perform their act (to get paid and pay the rent). None of that was about the student.
“Thinking is never directed at itself, but always at something else . . . thinking explains something outside itself; it forgets itself.”
~ Albert Soesman, Our Twelve Senses.
True advice comes from a place of composure and peace. A teacher sees potential in me and her aim is to cultivate and bring out the best in me. His interest and fulfilment comes from seeing me flourish. That’s the kind of help I need. That’s what I'm willing to open up and surrender to. Most of the times that’s the hardest advice to act upon.
I try to think about this when I interact with people. Am I writing something? It should be about the reader. Am I presenting? It should about my audience. That's you.
I need to be curious and inquisitive when surrounded by people. It's the best way to beat social anxiety and stress. I should know as I’ve been diagnosed with both—which also means you should take everything I say with a grain of salt.
“Salt is connected to thinking.” ~ Albert Soesman, Our Twelve Senses.