Today’s Lie of the Day: “I Know What’s Best For You”
Have you ever found yourself looking into the eyes of someone you care about, someone who you know cares about you, and felt like you lost your voice as they spoke to you? You hear their words – advice and guidance of some sort on whatever challenge is ahead of you – and you know there is good reasoning behind the words, but you feel kind of empty and confused inside? You want to speak up, disagree, you feel defensive, but the words don’t come out, because, well, this person cares about you, and you believe they know what’s best for you, even if it seems to be other than what you want for yourself.
The worst part of the experience is the loss of your voice. Especially if you, like me, are someone pretty outspoken, who knows what you want, speak up, communicate, and allow your thoughts to be expressed. You wonder, “How can I possibly be unable to speak? Where did my voice go?”
You leave the conversation feeling confused, foggy, and even worse, potentially manipulated into doing something you didn’t want to do. And then what do you do? You blame the other person for making you feel this way, swear you’ll watch yourself next time you’re with them, or avoid them all together, because clearly, they have some power over you.
I believe this internal conflict is generated when the person advising you believes that they know what’s best for you, and you want something different for yourself. When someone is forceful about their ideas for you, it can be easy to be swayed into thinking they are right. But the bigger piece of this equation is this:
The advice you are being told is good for the giver, but not necessarily for you!
Think about it. Parents tell their kids what’s best, but often it’s about what’s best for them, not for the kid! They want their kid to be safe, secure, and “better off” than they were. So, for example, a parent might advise their kid on a career path that is “stable, certain to bring you money and benefits which are most important,” and so forth. The kid, believing they should listen to their parent, follows that advice, and pursues an education and career path in a “stable” direction, but feels empty and unhappy, because they are not on their desired path.
So, in the end, though the road may be bumpy, following your own path, your own voice, and your own beliefs, will lend to you being happier and more satisfied in your life.
But, what if you’re having one of those moments where you can’t speak up to the advice you’re getting? Here are some tips:
- Stop. Breathe. Walk away from the conversation if you have to, take a break for a moment.
- Remind. Say in your mind, “I think I may be hearing advice that’s good for them, and not for me.” Remind yourself that this is what’s happening so you can approach the conversation differently.
- Check in with your inner voice. Now that you are aware of the situation you’re in, find out what you want here, and where that differs from the advice you’re getting.
- Clear Yourself. Get clear on why you want what you do – is it an inner knowing, a desire, based on experience…..?
- Ask questions. Ask the person why it’s so important to them that you follow this course of action.
- Get Clarification. If you are unclear of the answers you are getting, or if you find yourself getting defensive, then say, “When you just said that, I heard you say __________, is that what you meant?” Summarize what you think they said to find out whether or not you are hearing them as they intended.
- Reserve your decision. In most cases, you probably don’t have to decide right away. Even if it’s urgent, ask for 15 minutes to go take a walk and mull things over. Make sure to listen to YOUR thoughts.
- Hire a coach – someone who can objectively help you distinguish what you want from what others are advising you.
Do you have a thought or phrase that leaves you feeling dis-empowered and stuck? Share it here, and it might be made into a future lie of the day!