A Word about Advice

“Let me give you a piece of advice. . . . “

“You want my advice?”

“I know exactly what to do. . . .”

A lot of well-meaning people pass along information and thoughts to others in times of need or distress. Some of it is memorized cliques such as “Let it go” and other phrases with little meaning that gets passed along like a flu bug in a stuffy office building.


In fact, what does that mean exactly? If I held a bird in my hand, opened my palm and released it, watching it fly into the clouds, that is something I understand. But anger, frustration, disappointment? How exactly does one simply “let it go.”

That is just one example.

Hence, the limitations of advice.

People want to help as a general rule. How they go about it can be the problem.

What is often forgotten is that the best form of help is simply listening and empathizing with another. Putting yourself in his or her shoes and feelings their pain. There is something very human, very soothing when one does this for another.

Yes, it may be difficult. You may even absorb some of their pain yourself. Do it anyway.

That is what we do for those we love, for that handful of people in this great big world that matter to us.

Let’s take depression as an example.

If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why or to dig into the reason(s) for this state. Depression isn’t built in straight lines. You cannot always play connect-the-dots and get to the problem like some Sherlock Holmes novel. Depression is energy that is turned inward and as such, has a tendency to stay stuck. Logic and advice will never move it.

Try to understand the blackness that such people are experiencing without needing to fix or you guessed it, offer unsolicited advice. Listen. Be there. Give of the 2 most precious commodities – your time and your attention. This is much more likely to evoke movement than any sentence that starts with the phrase, “Let me give you a piece of advice. . . . I know. . . “

No, you don’t know.

Nor do I.

We are not them. They are experiencing a unique set of circumstances. They have their unique set of life skills.

Just be there.

Be there for them as they are suffering.

Be there for them when they come through the other side.

That is the best “advice” known.