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The Subtle Art of Taking Advice

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

We've all been there, reliant on the advice of others and unable to trust ourselves to make strong decisions. We end up googling endless questions that lead to more questions. We call all our friends and family to only feel more confused or misunderstood. We follow in the footsteps of successful people only to feel that we've walked down the wrong path and wasted precious time.

This pattern, unless challenged often leads us to a place of deep confusion and inability to take responsibility for ourselves. It hinders the development of ourown inner guidance and self-assurance. Perhaps you were raised by parents who were incredibly controlling and involved in all your decision making, not allowing for independence to flourish naturally. Or maybe you are fixated on people-pleasing and find yourself conforming to the needs of others before yourself, always needing approval before acting. Maybe you see yourself as someone who is collaborative and loves gathering the opinions of others. Whatever you do to justify following the advice or opinions other, I guarantee you may be better off without it.

From my perspective taking the advice of others is a subtle art that should be practiced and integrated into all aspects of our lives. I used to think it was harmless to ask the opinions of others, my earliest memories as a child were watching my father put on his suit and tie and stepping out of his closet to ask "does this match"? But what happens when we rely too heavily on the opinions and judgments of others is that we lose our self-direction, and our inner voice begins to quiet. It is such a beautiful thing to receive positive affirmation from those who we love and trust, but there are a limit and line to draw.

I've rounded up a few essential tips to consider when taking the advice of others.

  1. Recognize the difference between internal and external approval. This means practicing self-awareness and knowing yourself deeply. For example, you may try on an item of clothing and feel completely uncomfortable immediately, but instead of trusting your initial reaction, you ask for external opinions. Depending on whether the comments are positive or negative, your decision-making will sway in that direction.

  2. Do research but limit yourself to trusted sources. The world we live in is inundated with endless amounts of information. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube we are overwhelmed. Consider the source, question data, and treat everything with skepticism until proven otherwise (unless it's science).

  3. Predictability is impossible, what worked yesterday may not work today. This one hits hard, because so much advice is given from the point of view that "it worked for me, so it should work for you." There are limitless opportunities and paths to walk, each journey is unique, therefor following your path is the most rewarding. I respect that history can teach us about our past, but it does not determine our future.

  4. Indecision kills, learn to act on impulses. While I love the ability to sleep on a big decision and weigh the pros and cons, there is power in your instincts. There is science behind instincts and once you learn to follow them it will set you free.

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