When Taking Advice From Others, Listen To Yourself First

by Paul Hudson

This is an interesting topic for me to write about due to the fact that a large part of what I do with my life is write about how people can help themselves and make their lives a little bit more pleasant. I write about how to be more successful, how to be happier within a relationship and also, from time to time, I’ll write an article or two about how to take your entrepreneurial dreams off the ground.

Although I don’t like to look at it in such a way, one could argue that what I do in my writing is give advice. Taking someone else’s advice can prove to be dangerous. Many will give advice even though they aren’t truly in a position to be giving it. Others will give advice that is very one-sided and that cannot If be catered to every person in every situation—in fact, it’s rare to find any sort of advice that holds true for any given situation.

This is why I do my best — for the most part — to keep my ‘advice’ general and simple. Any situation a person finds him or herself in is entirely unique. The outside factors and our own state of internal affairs can’t be replicated or fully understood by ourselves, far be it for anyone standing on the sidelines to give conclusive advice to anyone in the midst of action or turmoil.

I’m not one to believe that there are occasions when there is no correct answer. If there ever existed such a case then the answer ‘there is no answer’ is a reasonable answer in itself. For every problem there is always a solution. When we are unable to arrive at an answer ourselves we will seek the help of others. We will either ask our family or friends, read books on the subject or surf the net looking for answers. In my entire life I have yet come across a question that I was not able to find an answer to on my own.

Of course, I’m not speaking so much of questions academic in nature, but rather questions involving ourselves and our personal lives. We may not have certain knowledge — such as the basics of engineering or biochemistry — and that’s acceptable because we now have access to such information when we need it. However, when it comes to questions involving our lives and the actions we are to take or withhold from taking, it’s an entirely different ballgame.


Why is this? Why do we not have a textbook out there with all the answers to all the possible questions we will one day have to answer and important decisions we will one day have to make? Because there are too many factors in any single situation for anyone other than the person living in that moment to factor into an answer. There are too many unknowns. You yourself may have a difficult time understanding all that is going on in any given situation, all the connections and most probable results of any action(s) you may take as an answer.

If you — the person who is living the problem — can’t fully grasp the issue, then what makes you think anyone else could? Sure, there are many of those who lived through very similar situations, but there is no one that has ever been in the same exact situation as you — nor will there ever be.

Life questions are the most difficult to answer because they revolve around the way we feel at the moment, the experiences that we had in the past and the way that we react to certain things — the way that we are likely to react to events in the future. Because we each lived different lives and experienced different experiences, no person other than yourself will be able to find the perfect answer to any crisis you may come up against.

This is not to say that you should not listen to general advice. While we are very different we are also very much alike. There surely have been those that have found themselves in a predicament almost identical to yours. Hearing what they have to say may give you a better understanding of what other issues are to follow as well as what actions are most likely to result in what outcome.

The truth is that hearing out advice and listening to it are two different things. While it’s always good to hear advice, it’s not always good to listen to it and take it. You can ask others for their opinions and hear their stories of how they made it out of the dark tunnel, but understand that their situation is not exactly the same as your own.

You are not the same people and what made your friend happy will not necessarily make you happy as well. Maybe you don’t have the same vision for your futures. Maybe your situation has additional factors that the other person is not aware of or does not know how to deal with. Maybe your advice giver’s experience had additional factors and motivations behind their actions that they either don’t mention or are not even fully aware of.

We Heart It

Taking the advice from another wholly is assuming that: 1. They have lived through exactly the same predicament as you, that all the factors are exactly the same. 2. That they have the same wants and needs as you do. 3. That the repeating their actions will lead to the same result. None of which is ever true. However, taking bits and pieces of advice from others and then catering them to your specific situation is definitely of benefit.

When someone offers you advice or you ask for it, take what they have to say with a grain of salt. Understand that there is more to their story and more to your own as well. Understand that you are still getting to know yourself and that the more you get to know yourself, the more you will grow and change. And, most importantly, remember that the only advice that is worth anything is the advice that you give yourself.

You are the one that has the most access to the reality that you are living in and are the only person truly fit to direct your life. Hear others out and then listen to yourself. There’s no truer advice than the advice we give ourselves, but fail to follow.