It may seem that everywhere we turn, there is a friend, family member, or stranger, who feels the need to offer their own version of sage advice for navigating life. While the intent may be well-meaning, for the most part, some advice may end up doing more harm than good. Here are 10 pieces of advice that stand out to me that have the potential to take the situation from harmless to iffy:
- “Treat people in the same manner that they treat you”
This would have been coined by people who might have been hurt or disappointed about the way they have been treated by others. Especially when an individual perceives their own treatment of other people as kindhearted and positive, another person not doing the same may have them feeling that hurt tenfold. Listen, as hard as it is to accept, no one owes you anything. You also can’t control other people, as well as the way that they choose to navigate their relationships with others and the world around them. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you respond to situations. Matching darkness with darkness will not make you feel better.
“Hate makes its host miserable”, so instead of shooting back with an equally snarky comment, consider just shaking your head, maybe even laugh, and walk away. Continue to be a person that prioritizes bringing more light into the world, rather than diminishing it. Don’t collect the pain and inflict it on others.
- “Be a ride or die girl”
Society seems to continue holding favor for the “ride or die girl”. This girl is someone who sticks by her man and/or friends through anything and everything, including the very bad. This is just plain toxic advice. Of course, loyalty is still a virtue, but it would serve us to consciously consider the extent to which it should be favored? What is loyalty, really?
Should you remain loyal to someone if they are making you unhappy, are abusive, and are disloyal themselves? Absolutely not. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you and treat you well, without an expectation of a blind faith that could place you you in an uncomfortable bind. If you want to be a ride or die for anyone, consider being that “ride-or-die chick” for yourself.
- “Don’t travel alone, it’s dangerous”
This is one of the more well-intentioned pieces of bad advice. Honestly, danger is everywhere. There is danger when we go to work and school, when we come home from these places, and more often than not, we typically do this alone. The same ways you are vigilant at home is the same way you should be vigilant in “farrin”. Besides, travel has amazing benefits, especially for your mental health. Solo travel may also prove to give you the key to a wealth of knowledge that you never believed you could have. You learn new customs, discover new histories, meet new people, and experience new place, while teaching you to be your own best friend. The truth is, we may not always have someone there who wants to go the same places we do or even want to travel at all, leading many of us to give up on the dream. Whether you want to go to Hellshire or Helsinki, once you can afford it, just go.
- “You have to aspire to marriage and childbearing”
Maybe no one explicitly says this, but let’s be honest, from the days of playing with dolls and being dressed in frilly dresses, when you thought of your future, you pictured a picture-perfect wedding and little ones running around. After all, that’s all we saw on television shows, and even the Disney princesses had their Prince Charming at the end. As you aged, you may start getting pestered by family members inquiring about why you aren’t married yet and when you’re going to welcome a newborn. The truth is, marriage and childbearing can bring happiness to a person’s life, but it’s still a choice. If you aren’t feeling the whole marriage and childbearing thing but go along with it anyway because of societal pressure, you run the risk of not only being unhappy, but developing fractured relationships with the other parties involved in these unions. The way I see it, living your life in way that others claim to see fit, may cost you much more than just your happiness, and that is just too expensive.
- “Never say never”
This was coined by Charles Dickens in 1837, presumably with the idea that people should always be open to new experiences. However, you have to say ‘never’ sometimes and mean it. Not everything deserves a chance to be tried. Things that are harmful to your wellbeing, both mentally and physically, don’t need to be coveted. It is true that you might end up doing things that you say you would never do, but hopefully it won’t be anything forced or out of your own values. Take this with a grain of salt.
- ‘Suck it up’
This was probably uttered by someone who has witnessed you pine over something for too long and they really just want you to be happy. So, while it may be well-intentioned, it is still likely to have toxic consequences. You should be able to experience the full range of your emotions necessary to work through any given situation. Repressing your true emotional responses, especially to satisfy others, may likely manifest into harmful coping mechanisms. This can then easily lead to relationship sabotage with others, and even yourself. According to Timi Gustafson, R.D., acknowledging emotions is good for mental health. A study done by Harvard School of Public Health and University of Rochester significantly links the suppression of emotions to death by heart disease and certain kinds of cancer. Bottom-line is: cry it out and if the feeling is too overwhelming or won’t go away, see a psychologist or therapist.
- “Do you what makes you the most money and not what makes you happy”
This is the counter argument for “Do what makes you happy”, and tends to be quite a controversial and tricky one to maneuver. On one hand, you need money to survive and maybe the area you are interested in isn’t financially rewarding. However, if you do something you hate, you’ll be one of those people who are constantly looking forward to Fridays and are forced to sit down doing something you hate for 30 years. That’s not a fun life. I believe people need to find some middle ground. Whatever you are interested in, find the aspects of it that can make you money and do it.
- “At some point you’ll just have to settle”
As we age, parents feel better if we appear “stable”. For them, this stability looks like a long term partner and a long term job, preferably sitting around a desk from 9-5 each day. However, settling isn’t acceptable. Don’t stay with a man simply because you’ve been together for a long time, especially if you truly don’t want to. Same thing with your job that you can’t stand. This is easier said than done, but you have the brains and the strength to figure out how to make these changes happen.
- “Just ignore him/them”
There are many things that you can ignore if they don’t serve your interests. I mentioned before snarky comments and things like that. However, if you are really bothered by something, especially within a friendship or relationship, you should let the person know. Ignoring the problem will stunt the growth of your relations and can overwhelm you to the point of detrimental effects. The silent treatment isn’t helping anyone sis.
- “If at first you don’t succeed try and try again”
This is great advice for things like your dreams, your journey to self-love, among other important things However, this isn’t applicable to everything, because to be frank, some things you have to learn to just let go. This can include people who don’t have your best interest at heart. If you constantly have to show them your worth, don’t try and try again, let them be free and find people who do appreciate you. Don’t use this phrase to justify toxic situations.