The Advice Problem

Why are so many of us so good at giving advice, but not taking it (from ourselves or others)? Why does some advice stick and others don’t? What makes advice good or bad?

I’ve been thinking about this, and so here are some of my ideas…



Our beliefs, our views on life and things, changes often. It’s important for all of us to know when taking and giving advice, that our ability to give good advice or listen to good advice will depend on our personal perspective at the time.

When in a low place, or highly frustrated or confused (usually times when we need advice, really) it can be hard to listen. It’s hard to determine what’s important or what’s best for us. The same goes for giving advice. I think it best that those who are feeling low in life or confused themselves, are perhaps not in the best position to give healthy advice to others.

*Which is funny, because I’ve felt very low at times while writing my blog. I do, however, try to be careful with what I put out and share with you guys.*

In general, we all hold different perspectives on life. We all have different values, desires, priorities and the like. So, when giving or accepting advice, try to be sure that the other person holds the same or similar perspective to you, otherwise, it can be confusing and unhelpful and potentially damaging for those involved.


Personal Consequence

It’s easier to give advice to others, great advice at times, too, but harder to take it ourselves or use the same advice for our own lives due to personal consequences. Telling someone else to do something is easy because it usually has no direct effect on your own life. Using that same advice for yourself does personally affect you, though, and so it’s harder to take it on board.

This is the fundamental reason why we say to others, “be brave, go for it!” or “take the harder job because you’ll enjoy it more” or “you’re totally ready for this” is because we usually want the best for people we care about. We don’t want them to think small or give up or whatever else. But when it comes to ourselves, as much as we’d love to be brave and just do something, it’s harder because if we fail, we are the ones this time who will feel the repercussions.



On the other hand, fear can be a big problem when it comes to advice. People can only give advice from their level of awareness, understanding, experience and daring. These things will influence what advice they give and to whom. Therefore, it is important to not ask for advice about being rich from someone with no money. Or how to raise a child from someone who isn’t a parent. They can’t give you real advice without real know-how or experience, can they?

And people who counsel from fear don’t give good advice. People who are afraid to do scary things aren’t the people we should go to for advice about the daring things we want to do.

And so, it’s important to be selective about who you get advice from.

Ask yourself:

  • How much experience in this area do they have?
  • Would they do this thing themselves?
  • Are they going to put their own fears and anxieties onto me instead of giving me real advice about this?

Be careful; don’t let other people’s fears become your own by getting “advice” from the wrong sources.


Last Thoughts

  • Go to the right people for advice
  • Accept advice from the right people for certain situations
  • When giving advice, ask if your input is appropriate for this topic
  • Before giving advice, check that you’re in the right mindset to do so
  • When getting advice, also check that you’re in the right mindset to listen
  • Check yourself for biases or self-fulfilling prophecy-like perspectives when giving or getting advice (are you seeking a certain outcome?)


It’s said that we don’t find or discover truths, instead, we remember them. As in, we all know the truths of life deep within us, hence why we all can be good at giving advice to others. Bear this in mind when seeking advice, perhaps you know the truth inside you already…

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