When you think about what you really desire, chances are that at least a small piece of you worries about what “everybody” will think.
In Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck challenges you to carefully define your “everybody.” Are you really just talking about your mother, Aunt Josephine, and your boss? Is it your best friend, your son, and that guy you have a crush on?
Chances are good that the “everybody” you worry about is only a handful of people, and when you really investigate how much their opinion matters, you may discover that you’re expending a lot of your worry energy on people you don’t even like that much, much less respect enough to trust their advice.
Think about it. People are dying to give you advice, but does it really guide you? How much of what “everybody” says to you is total hogwash?
What “Advice” Would Really Sound like if You Could Read Minds
- I know I’m miserable in my soul-sucking job, but you should NOT quit your job and do something exciting and risky. Then I’ll be forced to stare into the eyes of my own unhappiness and face up to the fact that you’re brave enough to do what I’m not.
- Yes, it’s true that all of my romantic relationships have been total train wrecks, but you should absolutely listen to me when I tell you to steer clear of that person who is absolutely no good for you. I know what’s good for you better than you do.
- I understand that you want to dye your hair purple, stop shaving your armpits, get tattoos, and let your freak flag fly, but nobody will ever love you if you do. I’m an expert at this because I’ve done everything possible to look exactly the way society says you’re supposed to look. See how well it’s turned out for me? (NOT!)
- You have to stop putting your heart on the line the way you do. My own heart has been broken so severely that I’m traumatized and can’t bear to unbind my heart anymore. So you should wall yours up with boards and chains to make sure nobody ever hurts you the way I got hurt. Trust me, this is for your own good.
- Don’t be foolish and go after that big dream. It’ll never come true and then you’ll look like a failure. You’ll spend the rest of your life known as that person who went for it and didn’t get it. You should trust me on this because I have a dozen unrealized dreams, and if you go after yours and succeed, I’ll feel like a total loser.
- Because I’m gay and have been completely in the closet for my entire life, and because my whole life will have been a lie unless you conform like I have, you should trust me when I tell you that your life will be ruined if you tell the world you’re really homosexual.
- You’d be crazy to take that volunteer job in Africa, where there’s malaria and Ebola virus and all kinds of other dangerous, risky things. You can trust me on this. I know because I’ve been outside the United States once—to Canada.
- You shouldn’t get a pet. They’re messy and expensive and hard to take care of. Plus, I had one once, and she broke my heart so badly. I’ve never opened myself to another pet; therefore, you shouldn’t either.
- Don’t go on that diet. You might actually lose weight, and then we won’t be fat together. I’m afraid you won’t love me if you’re thin and healthy, since food is what we bond over.
- Don’t ever let them see your flaws. Wear masks. Be inauthentic. Do whatever it takes to fit in so you can get ahead in life. Be like me. Then I’ll feel validated for the fact that I lack true intimacy in my life, even though I look like I’ve got it all together.
Be Careful about “Advice”
Beware whose advice you take seriously. Do you really want to be like the advice-bearers? Do you respect, admire, and honor the way they’ve chosen to live their lives? Are you really willing to model yours after theirs?
I’m not suggesting you ignore all advice. I have a whole slew of people whose advice I deeply value because I have so much respect for how the advice-givers live their lives.
I’m merely asking you to choose your mentors carefully. Make sure they’re not projecting their own crap onto you. Ensure that they really do have your best interest at heart.
Then take the advice they give, run it by your Inner Pilot Light, and make sure it resonates with your own heart.
How do you handle advice? Do you listen to everyone? Ignore advice completely? Pick and choose? Tell us your story.
Under good advice to screen advice carefully,
*Photo by theloushe.