Thursday, November 12, 2015

Un-Asked-For Advice

I have to go out of town for a while, so there will be no message the week prior to Thanksgiving. As well, this message will be a tad early.
I was reminded at my last AA meeting, as well as from a message I received from Michael Z [], of an axiom I have come to believe in my experience: “Un-asked-for advice is always seen as criticism.” I think I believe virtually all I do and say is imbued with the highest and best loving intentions. What a fictional story it is I tell myself!
Way down deep inside I know that I offer advice because I really believe I can dispense wisdom. It sounds wonderful, when confronted by an angry, hurt, and disappointed recipient of my un-asked-for advice, to say, “I regret you were upset at my attempt to help. My intentions arose out of love.”
Un-asked-for advice is seen as criticism because it is a criticism.
I began seeing the true wisdom of this as I was presented with my first grandson. “What do you do around your infant grandchildren?” I asked several respected couples who had been grandparents for a long time. Their answer? “Don’t offer any suggestions or assistance until you are asked. And, if you are asked, don’t answer in terms of books or articles you’ve read – answer in terms of your personal experience (good or bad) as a parent.”
That was wonderful, ASKED-FOR advice. I haven’t been asked a lot of questions from my children about raising my grandsons. It’s hard to be quiet sometimes. I often feel like a small second-grader that knows the answer, is waving my hand and is squirming in my desk wanting to be recognized and called upon. But the teacher calls on someone else. Damn!
There are two significant pieces to the message here:
1) Asked-For Advice is a conscious call for help or assistance or guidance. It is a precious commodity. Many of us have difficulty in asking for help. We believe it is an indication of weakness and vulnerability. I believe the universe responds to us in a manner that reflects how we respond to the universe. If I give grudgingly to the universe, it will give grudgingly to me. My prosperity is like a coin: One side is giving while the other is receiving. I have always been taught to be a cheerful and generous giver. However, I have very little instruction on how to ask for help – how to receive. “Don’t hang out the family’s dirty linen for all the neighbors to see.” “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” “If you can’t do it yourself, don’t do it.” These are the words I heard – and actions I saw – from my siblings, parents and extended family.
For me, personally, this smacked of dishonesty. If I needed help I ought to say so – not pretend all is well. I learned to ask for help when I finally hit my alcoholic bottom. That was also when I began learning how to be a human being – a journey I am still on.
2) When asked, give your advice from your own personal experience grown from issues you have wrestled with and resolved – for good or ill – that are as similar as possible to the one you are responding to. Book knowledge can teach me things, but it is not experience. We share our experience, strength and hope in 12-Step meetings. I don’t simply just share my “knowledge” of the Big Book or any other relevant reference unless it helped me through my situation, which I perceive is similar to the one asked about. If I don’t have any similar experience I say so. I offer a willing and attentive ear to help them process what they’re going through. Then I promise, respecting their anonymity and getting their okay, to enquire as to someone who may be more able to help than I.
I don’t offer advice unless asked.
I’ll talk to you after Thanksgiving. Enjoy a wonderful time of gratitude, love and acceptance.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 Nov 2015

Copyright 2015

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