One Size Fits...

January 28, 2013

During a recent purge of my son’s room, he handed me his bathrobe saying it didn’t fit. When I checked the label, it said “one size.” An obvious lie, as it does not fit my 6’1” beanpole son.

Advice is the same, have you noticed? Whether it’s advice on losing weight, animal training, child rearing, or how to increase your creativity, advice is everywhere—and much of it conflicts.

I’m happy to listen to advice (and some will tell you I’m also happy to give it). I’ve learned much from people who know more than I, saving me time and heartache. The advice is not the problem. The problem is when I put aside my own common sense or convictions to follow what someone else says I should do.

Guess what? There’s no “one right way” for everyone to do something.

Just as one-size-fits-all clothing doesn’t actually fit all (and aren’t we made to feel it’s somehow our fault it doesn’t fit?), one-size-fits-all advice doesn’t, either. Which doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly good advice for you, for me, for my best friend or my husband at some point. Sometimes it’s advice whose time has not yet come. Sometimes I recognize a piece of good advice, but I can’t follow it because my heart is just not in it.

Since I’m interested in self-improvement/educational type material and read a lot of it, in order to cope with the onslaught of advice, I’ve developed rules for taking it (or not taking it):

Does it make logical sense to me?

Is it possible to do without major disruption in my life?

Do I want to do it, or do I feel I should do it to please someone else?

Do I have to minutely follow complicated or multi-step instructions without deviation or else it “won’t work”?

Am I allowed to think for myself and ask questions without being made to feel that I’m stupid?

Keeping these rules in mind helps me gather the advice that will truly benefit me, and let go of what won’t. And that’s my advice on taking advice (but you don’t have to take it)!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? The worst?

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  1. The best piece of advice I've been given is "trust your heart".

    I really enjoyed reading your list of questions and think they will be very helpful in sorting through 'advice' that comes our way. Great thoughts and questions to ask.

  2. That's good advice, Claire. I'm hoping my questions help me to think before I act on advice.

  3. Excellent set of rules you've developed. You're exactly right - there is no ONE right way for just about anything. I wish more people remembered that!

  4. I know, Cheryl! There are few things more aggravating than someone who is convinced their way is the only way.

  5. I liked this post and your suggestions about advice. There's so much of it out there in the blogging world.

    The best piece of advice I've been given is listen to my intuition.

    Right now, I can't think of the worst one. I'll come back if it hits me:~)

  6. Thank you, Sara. Maybe it's good that you can't think of a bad piece of advice!

  7. "Never wake a sleeping baby (unless the house is on fire)." My Aunt told me that one when my first daughter was born.

    "If it works, don't fix it."

    "To thine own-self be true."

    "Abusers lose their rights." (If you are married to an abusive person and are staying because God hates divorce.)

    I am sure that there are so many more, but these are the first bits of advice that come to mind.

    Great post!

    Kathy M.

  8. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything! I heard that from my dad; I don't know where he heard it but it's certainly not new. He also said "There is ALWAYS something good and something bad about any place you move to (my husband always gets annoyed about the noise or crowds in any given place and my dad was trying to get him to see it would be similar anywhere).

  9. Kathy--Some great pieces of advice, there. Especially that sleeping baby one...

  10. Timaree--I like that advice. It's good not to add to the ugliness of the world. It's also true about the good and bad--most places, and experiences, have both good and bad elements.