Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Life advice is a tricky topic. Everyone feels they have the right, or even the duty, to dole it out at will. People believe they are helping, but we all know that isn’t always the case. Then there are those people in your life that feel they should help direct your life choices and inform you on everything they believe you should do differently.

Like, hello… I’m not a car. Step off.

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These people don’t necessarily have all of the essential information to be criticizing the situation, or they have dissimilar views from your own. Growing up, my inner monologue would have responded with “screw you,” or “what do you know?” I have come to learn though, that there is a better way.

I am not going to tell you how to live your life. I will simply share a method that made my life a little bit easier and may potentially help you as well.

People don’t change, especially when it comes to sharing their opinions. This was a vital piece of information I had been missing; changing people’s minds isn’t the objective. They don’t have to change yours either.

A wise woman once said, (the wise woman is my mom 99% of the time), “you can’t change people; you can only change your response to them.”

After hearing this, I realized that instead of responding in a combative way, to an entitled person asserting their views on my situation, I could listen and absorb what they had to say. Then I would take away from it what I felt was useful and forget the rest, even if it was what not to do. If this fails, find a way to gracefully exit the conversation before you commit an unforgivable act Voldemort style.

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Before learning this, I spent too much time and effort correcting people or giving them my side of the story, when in reality, frequently they just don’t care. Giving your side of the story in all of its gory, detail-filled glory does not guarantee that you will change someone else’s opinion. Much of the time, it will just elevate your blood pressure or ruin your afternoon.

Not everyone will understand your life or your circumstances.

The key to this method is evaluating the worth of the source. Is the person speaking informed about my predicament or situation? Do I value their opinion? Will their advice change anything in a positive way? Is what they are suggesting best for me?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t waste your time, because LAWD KNOWS it could be better spent. Predominantly on Netflix, cuddling your pet or literally anything else. So next time your perfectly well meaning aunt rambles on about her advice for your career, when you work in environmental conservation and she works in marketing, take it with a grain of salt. Just because someone means well, doesn’t mean you have to follow their advice.

Only YOU can give someone the power to dictate what you should or shouldn’t do with your life.

Ignorant people will not disappear anytime soon, and often times they love to talk, but monitoring your reactions to these people can make your life a lot simpler. So let your freedom flag fly and make your own life decisions, because you’re a millennial dude!

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