Have you ever seen one of your friends or family doing something wrong and you tried to tell them the "right" way to do it? Chances are, that they didn't respond to well to your "advice" and even resisted or resented your help.
Why is it so hard for people to take good advice? Don't they see you care about them and want the best for them?
I've wrestled with this notion for many years and I finally understand the reason.
The problem is not with the advice, or necessarily the person receiving it; the problem is the way in which it is given. Let me explain.
It finally clicked after watching the Dog Whisperer on The National Geographic Channel. The show follows Cesear Milan, a professional dog trainer, while he visits ordinary people who have out-of-control dogs and trains them how to train their dog.
One episode featured a dog that was born with only 2 back legs. This dog had to hop around using its chest as a front leg and would often lash out at other people (besides the owners) who tried to pet it.
When Cesear heard this, he understood immediately what was wrong. He said something to the effect of this: "The dog doesn't see itself as handicapped, we do. The dog accepts himself exactly the way he is. When other people come to pet him, they start to give him love and affection but then they also bring the energy of "ah, you're handicapped you poor thing" which is a sympathy-type energy. It's like a mix of love and poison which still ends up being a negative energy."
This is one of the most profound things I've ever heard. Anytime you are experiencing a negative emotion in response to how a person is or is behaving, you are generating within you an unpleasant energy.
When you feel worry, sympathy, anger, frustration, etc. toward another person, you are creating a negative energy. When you feel this way and then try to give advice to them, you are trying to give them that energy.
Let me ask you, if someone wanted to give you the energy of guilt, or shame, or worry, would you take it?
Does it matter if the energy was spruced up with some helpful words? Not really.
All words are good for really, is for us to agree on what type of energy we intend to communicate to each other. The majority of this energy, however, is communicated through our own state (our body language, voice tone, facial expression etc). Research indicates that up to 93% of communication is through things other than our words.
So while you may be "giving great advice" with your words, your state may be giving something else.
Think back to the last time you tried to give advice to someone. What was your energy like when you were talking to them? Was it from a place of love, compassion, and understanding or were you frustrated, angry, or worried about their choice?
In the words of Abraham, "You can't worry about someone and love them at the same time. They are two different energies."
Instead of becoming frustrated or worried, see if you can be completely at peace with where they are and the way they are.
A good way to start is to summon the energy of compassion:
1) What part of them can you appreciate in this situation?
2) Once you find it, feel it for a little while until you are feeling love for them.
3) Then look at it from their perspective. Do you see why they want what they want?
4) Consider these questions:
Can you honor and accept their choice even if you do not agree with it?
Do you trust the universe to work out in the end?
Can you see that what might be right for you may not be right for others?
5) How you can share your perspective while feeling this compassionate energy?
Let me give you an example. One of my family members recently found out they had high blood pressure. I knew there were various lifestyle choices she could change immediately to fix the problem. I wanted to tell her about various foods to eat and which to avoid, I wanted her to start meditating, and so on.
The old me would have became frustrated and said "You have high blood pressure because you eat crappy foods, watch the news all day, and don't exercise."
Although that is all true, the energy in the statement is a reflection of myself. It's the energy of blame, guilt, and shame at one's self. In this moment, I am not accepting myself and I am directing this energy to her by not accepting her where she is.
My advice to her is actually me trying to save myself. It's my frustration and blame towards myself, not compassion.
Instead, I understand that at one time I was doing many things that were not very healthy for me. I also understand that she simply doesn't understand that those activities are unhealthy for her.
I know that deep down, she wants to heal herself and be healthy and happy. So I make this last statement the basis for my approach and my energy to her.
I sit her down and tell some of the things I have recently learned and that if she is interested I could tell her more. I explain some of ways that I have improved my life through meditation and nutrition and teach her how to use them, all the while feeling love and appreciation for her.
The more I tell her, the more receptive she becomes, and the more committed she becomes.
This is because I was using the power of example rather than the force of knowledge.
By utilizing this approach, you can improve your communication with your girlfriends, friends, family, coworkers; everyone.
Remember, all advice you are giving is a reflection of yourself. By working on accepting yourself fully and completely in this moment, you will better be able to help others do the same.