This may be a contentious issue – but in my opinion the worst thing you can EVER do is listen to other people.
People love to give advice. They love to share their opinions about how you should live your life. But really, what do they KNOW about you and how YOU should live your life?
Here’s the thing – how many times have you ever taken someone’s advice and ignored the small voice inside your head screaming at you to do the opposite? And how many times have you kicked yourself after because:
You knew what you needed to do. You just didn’t listen to yourself.
I believe that too many people are second guessing themselves. Too many people are looking for the magic answer from someone else, when the truth is, the answer has been inside them all along.
You’re probably wondering how I can be condoning this idea to ‘ignore’ others?
I do after-all run a blog that ‘helps’ people to live their lives. Some might say I even offer advice to others.
The reason I started this blog was to help others help themselves. The Simple Life Strategies I offer are not set in stone, nor are they rigid steps – they’re simply a starting point for you to work with, a few nuggets of wisdom to inspire you to ultimately find your own way.
I genuinely hope you take what I offer and put your own twist on it – because you know what –everyone lives to the sound of their own beat and the sooner you understand who you are and start to trust in yourself, the sooner you’ll start living a contented life.
Why listening to others can be dangerous
I actually believe that by listening to the opinion of others too much, we are putting ourselves at risk. We risk valuing ourselves on the opinions of others – and this can only lead to despair, because you can’t please all the people all the time.
How many times have you been criticized and immediately felt down in the dumps. Why? Because you have essentially agreed with whoever criticized you. On the flip side, how many times have you been complimented and felt like you were walking on air for the rest of the day. Equally – positive compliments can be just as dangerous because what happens if the compliments stop? We start to rely on them in order to ‘feel good’.
If you look back in history at the most iconic innovators of our time they did not listen to others. Because great people understand that the most important person to please is yourself. Once you realize this you let go of being held hostage by other people’s opinions and you free yourself to be you.
The other reason why it’s dangerous to consistently act upon the opinions of others is this:
It creates a values conflict
Are you creating a values conflict?
Personal values are the things that matter most to you in life. For example ‘innovation’ is one of my values and this has been a consecutive pattern in my life. I studied Innovation studies at University and I launched a marketing agency with an innovative new service offering. You may notice that I frequently refer to ‘innovators’ because these people really inspire me.
If I were to follow someone else’s advice and start a business in a traditional, non-innovative industry I would experience a ‘values conflict’ because this is not ‘who I am’ and it’s likely that I would start to feel uneasy, frustrated and unhappy.
This is essentially what happens if you act upon someone else’s values – it creates a conflict and you end up feeling uneasy about the decision you’re making – because it’s not your own.
So am I saying you should never listen to anyone else’s advice?
Of course not.
It can be very useful to gain a second opinion from others – they may have a fresh take on something that you have been too close to. The point is – don’t take other peoples’ advice for the sake of it. Make sure you ‘check in’ and make your own decisions. Perhaps you take a small part of what someone is saying and ignore the rest! The most important thing is that you make your own decisions or you will end up living someone else’s life.
Maybe this poem (originally published in 1934!) will inspire you to listen to the one person who counts: you.
The Guy in The Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.
Dale Wimbrow 1934 (c)
Simple Life Strategy: How to Take Useful Advice from Others
Here are a few pointers when it comes to taking advice from others.
1. Next time you have a problem, don’t automatically ask others for advice – try asking yourself first. Who knows – you may already have the answer.
2. Remember other people are just offering their ‘opinions’ – don’t feel like you have to do what they have said
3. Check in with your values before you act on someone else’s advice. Do you genuinely feel OK about this? Or do you feel deep down inside that you want to take another route?
4. Try not to value yourself based on the opinion of others. Don’t take criticism to heart and also don’t allow yourself to be too affected by positive compliments.
5. When all is said and done – you are the most important person to please. Make sure you are happy with all of the decisions you make. Learn to trust yourself.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others.
If you’re keen to identify your personal values, contact me to find out more about my ‘values’ coaching sessions.
Other posts you might enjoy:
- How to Get Motivated
- How to Make the Right Choices in Life
- How to Switch off When You’re Really Stressed