Why We Struggle to Take Our Own Advice and What to Do About It

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Why We Struggle to Take Our Own Advice and What to Do About It

Why We Struggle to Take Our Own Advice and What to Do About It

“I’ve learned that lesson a zillion times, but my behavior hasn’t changed!” said everybody everywhere. We’re shelling out the same advice constantly, to ourselves and to others:

  • We know not to stay in toxic relationships or jobs.
  • We know that we need to eat healthy.
  • We know not to procrastinate.
  • We know that we should be rational and talk things out rather than get angry and reactionary.
  • We know not to revolve our lives around material things.

And yet… we struggle to follow our own advice.

In fact, we’re very eager to share our knowledge, give directions and make suggestions. If we’re asked for advice, we often give prime wisdom. But why do we rarely follow something that was passed along to us? Or even something that we, ourselves, are preaching and know to be the best advice?

What keeps you from practicing your wisdom?

REASON #1: Fear of Failure

Us humans like to focus on our failures. Despite our many success throughout our lives, it’s way easier to pick on those times when things didn’t work out. When it’s game time, we forget that those failures are what make us stronger, smarter, fuller humans.

So when you’re faced with working instead of procrastinating, or eating a salad instead of fries, you think, “Why bother? If I failed that time, who’s to say I won’t fail this time?” The human machine, a.k.a. the ego or small mind, wants to keep you safe, as if it’s better to not try than to try and fail.

REASON #2: Forgetfulness

Us humans are reactionary. In the heat of the moment, we forget all our hard earned and learned wisdom. We let the human machine do the living. The problem is that the human machine will just do what’s easy, tasty, and safe. Forget evolving good health, listening, loving, and accomplishing. The human machine will just rely on the self-hating rules we’ve concocted for how the world works.

My favorite coaching line: “That which is undistinguished runs the show.” In other words, our behavior is based on those stories or rules that you have not brought to light that create your reality.

How to follow your own advice?

1. Distinguish your blindspots

It’s rare that we will turn to general advice during times of tension or bad decisions. This is why we need to do discovery work in the interim. Like I mentioned above, distinguish those rules that are running your life.

For example, a client, let’s call her Julie, repeatedly was feeling awful for not being more productive in her free time. Julie was a psychology major at UCLA, so she knows that making herself feel awful doesn’t help with her productivity.

So I asked Julie, “What are you making productivity mean?” Julie responded with her undistinguished rule: “Productive = Good Julie. Not Productive = Bad Julie.” She immediately saw how that disempowering rule could affect her behavior. Together, Julie and I created a new empowering rule that works to inspire rather than force Julie’s productivity: “If I am productive, then I can create, excel, and collaborate with others.”

So before you get into those times of not practicing your own advice, figure out where you’re unconscious machine is ruling the show.

2. Be mindful of your feelings

When is it not a good idea to be mindful? It’s especially important when you have an uncomfortable feeling.

If you’re feeling anxious, lonely, or angry, for instance, acknowledge that those emotions aren’t cause for disappointment. Rather they’re action signals for where you’re out of alignment. Use your feelings to trigger a thought-process of “What wisdom do I know but am working against?”

If you’ve said you would get something done or you’ve given advice to behave in a certain way and you do something in contradiction to that, you’ll throw yourself out of balance. Your feelings are signposts that something is off. Be mindful of these signposts, instead of reacting in accordance with them.

3. Practice taking advice

By listening to others, even if the person you’re listening to is completely out of integrity, you’ll prepare yourself to get out of your comfort zone and stubbornness – things you will face when trying to apply your own advice.

What is your trick for staying true to what you preach? Do you follow your own advice? What do you find to be the best trigger for being successful here? Share it with the GLOW community! We would be honored to receive your wisdom.



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