Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why your own advice is hard to follow

My good friend and colleague Johnny B from the time I had my own therapy business, was a quite excellent marriage and family counselor.
The funny thing about him was that in his private life he had a really bad record with relationships.
Several times divorced and a couple dozen horror story relationships later he couldn’t hold a girl friend for more than three month without getting into fights.

He often came to me for personal advice and I would listen to him and offer the best advice I had to offer – It is a professional thing we did.
Any way, to make the story short, one day he caught me tired, burned out and not in the mood to listen to his soap opera love life.
I told him:
- You are an expert in relationships, what advice would you give a guy that came to you with the very same problem.
He told me what he would say to this imaginary patient, and then I said to him:
- Now you have it, you know what to do.
- That wouldn’t work for me – He said.
- Why not. It works for your clients, doesn’t it?
- Yeah, but they don’t know that the whole thing is only BS.


The Clandestine Samurai said...

I think, his advice is for people who come with completely empty heads on the matter and don't think about things for themselves. The people who just want to be happy without giving some sort of thought to what it takes to be this way. They come to him with problems and he just feeds them any old thing. But then, he was forced to think about his own situation and couldn't come up with an answer.

But you know, not all marriage and family counselors are like that. There are some, or maybe even plenty, that have good advice and strong relationships with their own partners.

Talon said...

Two things came to my mind.

One was that most people want someone else to tell them what to do.

Two is that it's always hard to practice what you preach.

Sarah Sofia Ganborg said...

good one!!! Like your sense of humor and it's true!

This Brazen Teacher said...

Maybe it's because I'm a sour puss today... maybe it's the dreary Ohio weather... but I find that so disheartening :-(

Aggie said...

Talon has it right - advice is easy to give, not so easy to follow - as it cannot measure the responses of the other person involved in the equation. It becomes too one-dimensional.

Barry said...

Perhaps the only question is:

Why would Johnny B wish to use his precious human life in service of a fraud?

Buddha said...

@ Samurai – I am sure there are therapists that have wonderful, balanced personal lives and there are therapists that are more screwed up than the people they are treating.
Therapists are humans just like everybody else, no more no less.
The point I was trying to make is that it is very hard to look at oneself in an objective manner and it is very difficult to follow your own good advice.

@ Talon – Right and right again.
That is what I was actually aiming for.

@ Sarah – I think it is funny too, but then I am a weird guy :)

@ Brazen Teacher – We put certain people on a pedestal and it is kind of disheartening when we found out they are just as bad as anybody else.
I had that kind of reaction when I realized my father was just another selfish ass hole, but then you grow older and start making your own mistakes and then you start being less judgmental.
I guess you are still very young and pure.
Give it some time.

@ Aggie – Humans are the most puzzling thing there is.
I don’t even know myself anymore.
Just think; when I was a teenager I knew everything :)

@ Barry –Think about a doctor that practiced 100 years ago.
Think about electrical shocks and lobotomies he performed.
Do you think he thought he was a fraud?
Do you think he was a doctor?
Are we what our diplomas said we are or are we all just playing roles?
Do we have the power of Gods or are we just frauds?

Diomedies said...

I can relate to your friend completely. He eyes all the ways it could fail. If you come up with something yourself it might seem entirely worthless only because its your idea and it loses any nobility or magic because of it. Not that it has to be this way, but it was for me a long time ago.

AngelBaby said...

Very funny! I really enjoyed it and I needed a good laugh! Thanks for sharing this.

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Love and Blessings,

Joe Clement said...

Of course the colleague knows his advice is bullshit. That's why he need someone else to give it to him

Dayflyer said...

Sometimes people are looking for advice when all they need to do is apply good old common sense.

And sometimes that common sense seems so obvious that they can't accept that it could be a solution. So maybe they start to think it must be BS.

I agree it's not always easy to follow your own advice. Many professionals demonstrate this, such as doctors who abuse substances, or legal people who break the law knowingly. But if you want to set yourself up as someone who gives advice and guidance to others, you should believe in what you're offering. Otherwise why should anyone listen to - or pay you?