Before I ever dated anyone, I knew how to give advice on relationships. Honestly, I have no idea how that worked out. Many of my friends, who probably had no one else to whom they could turn (and probably used me as a last resort), would either call me crying, upset, mad or any other emotion on the emoji keyboard.
What was I supposed to do? Not answer because it was 9 pm and I was already in pajamas? I had to answer. So, I picked up, decoded words through sobs and tried my best to give dating advice.
If you think about it, you’d probably never go to a psychologist if he or she didn’t have a degree, and yet, here I was, on the phone, spewing advice I learned from Glamour and Seventeen, with no experience to back it up. Surprisingly, it was so easy.
I could make a living off of this, couldn’t I? Well, that would require an actual degree and time I don’t have, but realistically, each of my friends found the answer my questions. All they needed to do was see the situation from a different perspective.
When Psychological Science published a study that found thinking wisely comes from viewing situations from an outside perspective, my mind wasn’t blown. Of course, science is helpful for backing up my theory. Yes, fine, I’ll accept my Nobel Prize now.
The fact of the matter is that we’re biased toward ourselves when it comes to logical reasoning, so instead of thinking straight, we essentially cloud our judgments with emotion. Emotions are bad. Well, they’re not bad per se, but if you let them affect your behavior and detract from positive decision-making, then Houston, we have a problem.
Researcher and author Igor Grossmann, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, called this bias Solomon’s Paradox, in honor of the king who was known for his wisdom, but failed to make good personal decisions.
So, why does this happen? Well, I have a couple of ideas.
You pretend you’re a lawyer
When you’re on your own, sometimes it's easier just to be easy on yourself. You let yourself off the hook, even though you know you're probably wrong and you still debate your decisions. You’re not a lawyer, though, so just stop.
You’re probably an awesome liar, too. The only problem is, you’re lying to yourself. Let’s be real: You’ll avoid that talk at all costs, even to the point that you won’t tell your friends the rut into which you got yourself.
You have feelings
When you’re giving advice, you don’t have any real emotion dedicated to the situation, so you can think clearly and hopefully, logically. I hate it when guys call girls crazy, but you know what? Sometimes, girls really are really cray.
Think about it like this: If someone did you wrong, do you want to scream and not resolve the issue, which might break up your friendship? That kind of sucks, doesn’t it? Think of it like an essay.
You must have an outline, points and evidence. If not, your argument will be invalid. Sure, it might sound like a lot of work, but you do what you have to do to succeed. So, how is choosing emotion over logic any different?
You can say you’ll stop talking to your boyfriend who cheated on you, but if that lasts for a day, honey, that doesn’t count. It’s easier to give advice on this because you weren’t hurt, obviously. In any type of argument, however, wouldn’t it be nice to see the situation from your frenemy’s perspective?
Okay, you probably don’t really care right now, and I wouldn’t, either, but this isn’t a one-sided argument, so it shouldn’t be evaluated as such. Try to see things from both perspectives because if you let yourself believe you're right, there’s no stopping you.
Sometimes, you need someone to shut you up and put you in your place before you see how ridiculous you’ve acted.
The adviser won’t drive him or herself crazy from overanalyzing the situation, so try to emulate that. Overanalyzing will drive you nuts, and if you have a vivid imagination (and have had four cups of coffee), you’re doomed.
So, in a sense, it’s easier to give advice because you haven’t yet envisioned every terrible possibility as to why things went to poop.
When it comes to giving advice to a friend whose mind races as fast as Miami drivers speed, your job is to calm down your friend and not give her terrible advice. Logic is key, and if you’re missing that, avoid giving advice and just take mine. #YoureWelcome.
Take your own damn advice
Listen to what you think is right and actually followthrough. We tell ourselves great advice, but many of us are too afraid to allow ourselves to go through with it. Our friends can help, too, which is where accountability makes things easier.
Friends make you do all kinds of great things, like deleting that sleazy, hook-up app because it’s for your own good. You could have gotten there on your own, but first, you need to think past your own lies, emotions and imagination. You’re smarter than you think — trust me (apparently, I’m a great adviser).
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