Advice is a gift that you sometimes find at a yard sale

Lucy advice boothI read the daily newspaper. Yes, that’s as in “PAPER.” Not the on-line version. I enjoy some of the goofy stuff that doesn’t transition to the web version as well.

One column I read faithfully is the Dear Amy column. I love critiquing the advice and mocking the stupid people who write in with idiot questions.

Ok, maybe I’m just a little grateful I don’t have those situations and don’t need any advice. (Not that I would take it anyway!)

This past week I read something in her response that really rang true. A reader wrote in to complain that her girlfriend would ask for advice and never take it. “It was good advice, damn it! Why didn’t she just take it and do what I told her?”

Ahhh, yes.

This one hit a home run.

I have had many people – friends, employees, executives – who have asked for advice over the years. Some people only want affirmation that what they think is correct.

Some people are trolling for a new solution or some miracle (that means easy) idea they may have missed.

Then there are those where the solution is as plain as the nose on your face but they don’t want to do that. It’s too hard or disruptive or painful or (egad!) expensive.

The columnist characterized advice as a gift. You give it and it’s up to the receiver to do what they want. Just like when you give a cookie jar for their birthday. Maybe they will keep it and use it or maybe they will put it out in their next yard sale. In either case it’s no longer your decision. It’s not your jar. Get over it!

That was wonderfully phrased (especially with my editing!).

I did a short stint volunteering for the phone line at a woman’s center. We had the same people call week after week with the same problems. When asked what they had done in the past week there were a dozen excuses but no progress. You can’t change your situation without making changes.

When I worked in Human Resources, I spent a good portion of my time advising people. Sometimes they followed through and sometimes not.

Sometimes the answer to a bad situation is to move on or out. Sometimes it’s to confront and sometimes it’s to learn coping mechanisms. There just aren’t any other remedies.

I’m mostly out of the advice business. Once in a while someone will ask because of my experiences.

When they ask I give them the gift and let them do as they will.

46 thoughts on “Advice is a gift that you sometimes find at a yard sale

  1. I love the cookie jar analogy! I don’t think I’ve ever thought of my advice as a gift and then just let it go! I don’t think I give my advice as much as I used to, but I am rather opinionated, so I probably do! LOL! I like this, Kate. Thank you for sharing it.


  2. Kate I guess in the end like you say give them that sound advice and let them run with it. You would think since we humans have been on this earth now for so long. We could google our answers to everything, its all been lived and done before. Mind you sometimes that does work.


  3. As part of my stewardship training, I don’t give advise, options: provide them with at least 3 options, and let them make their own decisions. As people giving me advices, I would end up having tons of gifts. I let them say their piece and return the gift by saying “oh that is a wonderful idea.”


  4. Best thing I learned in Stephen ministry training was never give advice, listen and ask open ended questions. They will figure it out…or not. It’s their life. We can be supportive but we can’t live life for them.


    • My mother died almost 30 years ago and every once in a while I pull out a piece of her advice to use. Of course, I didn’t use it then but I kept it in my hope chest waiting for the right moment (which means that I have matured enough to see the wisdom)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A gift…..I really like that view.
    During an interview to get into school I was asked “what would your best friend say is your biggest fault?” I answered that I don’t take my own advice. 8).


    • That’s a great response. I always hate those “what’s your biggest fault” questions. I love the people who say in a job interview “I get so into my job that I put in extra time to make sure everything is right.” Wouldn’t hire them myself. Your response was simple enough to be honest.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always give advice… and I usually discover I am really talking about myself… so I listen to myself and take my own advice!


  7. One of my sisters, Judy, did that — cry on my shoulder, ask for advice and then not take it. Trouble was, I often ended up collecting the broken pieces of her life. Ultimately, I told her to just do the opposite of whatever her gut was telling her to do. That didn’t work out well, though either. She died at 47 from a very hard life.


  8. Dear Kate… I want a gift cookie jar. But seriously, I used to give unsolicited advice to our grown kids. I have since abandoned that idea, much the same way they jettisoned all my advice. My wife say’s, if they want it, let them come and ask for it. Then, its free, and what they do with it, is up to them. Hope you have a super weekend. :O)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to give advice all the time thinking I knew everything till 12 Step straightened me out. Mind your own business is big in Ala-Non.
    I have learned people who don’t seriously address things, just want to stay in their mess complaining their lives away. It’s kinda sad.
    I don’t give advice anymore.
    Nice essay Kate 🙂


  10. Many years ago, I worked with a woman who was always asking whether or not I thought she should leave her husband. I never advised, only listened. Nothing good could come from that situation.
    I pray instead of asking for advice from people. That way, I know I’ll always get the right answer.


  11. Astute post ( and lovely comments, too). So many now will actually keep calling around until someone gives them the answer they want to hear. (Can that even be called looking for advice?)
    It’s a cookie. You gave it away. (now if it had been a cat…it would be back – with kittens )


  12. I just want to say how profound I think this blog and the comments made thereafter is today. Advice is a gift. I love it! Never thought of it that way…but always will from now on. And one always hopes that the gift you’ve given or received will be wanted, liked and or appreciated.


  13. Same is true is pet sitting. We can advise. Whether they decide to clean the litter box daily to stop the cat from peeing outside of it is entirely out of my hands.


    • OMG! Yes! I cat sat for a close relative. The first day I went in it was obvious the litter box wasn’t cleaned in at least a week and it was a covered box. I uncovered, really cleaned it and never put the top back on. Poor kitty was stepping on wet stinky litter to do his business and eventually he would have found another spot. I left a nice (hopefully non-judgmental) note but I was never asked back.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m out of the advice business too. In fact, the people I choose to spend my time with aren’t the type to ask for advice they have no intension of taking. Of course, not having children makes this easier.

    Now, if you want my opinions, I’ve got plenty of those!


  15. Nothing changes if nothing changes. So much in this post that I can relate to. Thankfully, I try to make changes in my life so I’m not constantly asking for advise about the same situation (sometimes easier said than done, though). I’ve known people who do that…after awhile it’s best to just listen and realize they don’t want any advice. Next time I’ll refer them to Dear Amy!


  16. Oh, my gosh, advice is like a gift! Too bad I feel like I keep giving certain people the same gift, over and over, and over…

    I think I get more frustrated with actual gift-givers who have a plan for their gift. As in, “Well, I gave so-and-so that money so she could do X with it, and she went on a vacation instead!”

    A gift is a gift, not a license to micromanage someone else’s life.


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