Should I Take Their Advice? How to Identify Toxic Advice

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Many of us are dealing with tumultuous relationships. Family and friends advise us to get over our emotions and move on. They are not able to comprehend why we can’t simply move on and find someone else. This is often easier said than done. Many people give advice to others that they will never take for themselves. 

Many of us get stressed out and overwhelmed when we are dealing with these feelings in our lives. On top of that other people are telling us we should have moved on, there must be something wrong with us. We begin to question if there is something wrong with us. We are already dealing with our own emotions and feelings and now we have other people telling us where we should be in our lives at this point. 

How do we begin to understand what we are dealing with and try to not take this burden upon ourselves which gets in the way of healing and moving on?

Often when someone tells us to get over a relationship and that it should not be upsetting us so much, we begin to internalize it. We wonder if there is something wrong with us. 

First, many people give advice that they would never take themselves. It is easy to give advice. It is easy to tell someone what to do when you have never had to go through it. When someone has gone through a tumultuous relationship or long marriage where things did not end well, this is overwhelming. We must process what is going on and walk through the feelings and emotions. We must see how we feel, take our time, and live our lives. We must begin to find our true selves through understanding our identity as separate from the other person. This can be a very challenging thing to experience. 

However, this is a journey. It is a very powerful journey to take but it takes time, effort, motivation, and dedication. The last thing we want is someone in our camp telling us that we have something wrong with us. 

Think about this, if you have been married to someone for a long time, isn’t it normal to think about them? Isn’t it normal to still have feelings for them? If you are a healthy individual you are going to have feelings for someone especially if you were married for over ten years. You are going to think about them, feel for them, and care about them. You can’t just cut off care and your feelings that easily. If you were able to do this, most likely you are not a very healthy individual. 

If you are still having feelings for your ex-spouse, you need to realize that it is not abnormal. We can love them at their core but be upset with them. An abnormal response would be to cut all ties with them, not having any emotion, move on, walk away, and jump into another relationship. A lot of people will probably tell you to just get back in there and get into another relationship. It is good to put yourself out there but we need time to process the relationship, how we feel about being left, and the missing of the other person in our day-to-day lives. 

Another interesting aspect is that many of us are going through life changes, for example, a divorce. The person who was always with us is no longer there. There could have been children involved in the situation. It’s possible that those kids aren’t talking to us as often as they used did. This is another loss in our lives. 

When we analyze this, we see that our entire life to some degree has changed. We must understand who we are and create a road map for who we are. We need to understand our values, what we stand for, and what we believe in. We may have changed this over time because we wanted to get along and not rock the boat in the relationship. Most likely have accepted whatever they did because we wanted them around. 

The last thing we need is someone telling us to move on with our lives. There are time constraints, we do not want to be thinking about this person constantly years and years after the relationship. Emotions wane and we do begin to see the actions of the person and start putting ourselves first. We need to look at our values and what is important to us. In the process of going through this, we need to give ourselves grace. 

When you hear this type of advice from someone close to you it is okay to listen to the advice, don’t get angry about it. Let them know you appreciate the advice and that you are working on yourself. Let them know that you are aware that there is nothing wrong with you and that you can have feelings. 

Another thing to consider is where the advice is coming from. People that are close to us have a stake in our lives. What happens to us directly relates to them. Working with a coach or therapist will give you someone to talk to who will be objective. They can give you the right advice because it does not impact them. Remember when the advice comes from a family member it impacts them. It also causes judgment. We begin to think that maybe they are correct, and what is wrong with us? We internalize what they say and start looking for what is wrong with us. 

There is no need to get into an argument with the person giving the advice. We should see what their life looks like. We are not judging, but looking at where their life is and what they have been dealing with. Perhaps things they are not self-aware of and some of the shortcomings and problems they have that they are not aware of.  They may have never experienced the situation we are going through. If that is the case, how can they give any advice? 

Ultimately there is nothing wrong with us. We need to take the time and work through the things that we need to understand. We will then be able to find a more solid identity for ourselves. We can appreciate the unsolicited advice, but at the same time do not take it to heart. 

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