I’ve had a very helpful realization as of late: Someone sharing their personal information with you doesn’t mean they want your advice.
Allow me to elaborate.
My friend is a retired nurse and is well aware of her declining health. Not only is it visibly obvious, but I allow her the time and space to share her medical woes with me. My response is to rattle off natural solutions to help her. But I’ve come to realize, she doesn’t wasn’t solutions. She wants to be heard. She wants to talk about it out loud instead of just inside her head.
When she told me of the adverse reactions from her doctor tripling her thyroid medication, I could have interjected and pointed out that iodine deficiency is a trigger for thyroid dysfunction. The healing miracles of iodine go largely ignored, particularly when there are pharmaceutical interests at hand. However, my observation is that with decades of nursing experience, her response will only be to defend doctor’s orders and fully trust the medicine. So I simply observe while being conscious to how much of my own time and energy I lend to other people.
I’m grateful I’ve made this observation. We all know how frustrating it is to provide advice to someone to only to have it completely ignored. Perhaps it’s part ego and part confusion as to why your sound and logical solutions would be completely ignored. Once you recognize that maybe you misinterpreted the situation and the person wasn’t looking for your advice, you become more conscious as to how much emotional energy you give it. Instead, step back and appreciate that each person is on their own journey and will come to their own conclusions when the time is right for them. Giving people the space to talk about it out loud is often the most helpful and loving thing you can do for them.
It doesn’t really matter what the Christian lady thinks about the world we live in.
On the flip side, I wish I could explain this concept to the self-proclaimed Christian lady at the library. She has acknowledged that she is a “know-it-all”, which leads me to believe someone has already pointed this out to her. After one polite exchange, I try now to constantly distance myself because her unsolicited advice is making me crazy. I probably sound like a jerk for expressing that. I acknowledge that she is coming from a place of good intentions, which is why I respond graciously. I say thank you and nothing more.
Giving people the space to talk about it out loud is often the most helpful and loving thing you can do for them.
So why does it bother me so much? Well for one, I come to the library to work and finish what I set out to do so I can go about the rest of my day. I don’t welcome the distractions. Secondly, it’s obvious from her unsolicited advice that our perspectives of the world are at absolute opposite ends of the spectrum, which makes it even harder for me to not respond.
For instance, one of the perspectives she holds is that the US/Mexico open borders are part of a “sympathetic” administration, whereas I believe it’s the biggest drug and child trafficking operation the world has ever seen. It’s a real test of my patience to not respond.
However, I remind myself that responding to that is purely ego. Not only will it not make me feel better in the long run, it’s likely to leave me feeling petty and unkind. Instead of defending my viewpoint, I focus on defending my time and energy. It doesn’t really matter what the Christian lady thinks about the world we live in. I just pray she finds a little more self-awareness.