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Monday, October 2, 2017

Why your own advice is hard to follow

My good friend and colleague John 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 relationship for more than three months without getting into a fight.

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 courtesy professional thing we do.
Anyway, 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 started talking laying down a very compelling set of arguments. 
He told me what he would say to this imaginary patient, what advice he would give him and how he would follow up on the progress. 
It was far better than all the advice I gave him previously. No matter the guy was considered one of the best counselors in the business.
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.

It is funny and sad that we may have and give the best advice but we cannot follow our own advice.
It comes down to the problem of authority.
News personalities, televangelists, celebrities or politicians can say the most stupid illogical things and people will follow them without hesitation like a pack of lemurs to their own destruction.

It is not what is said but who says it that makes us act, and I know you believe you are not one of those superficial people but sadly we all are.

Somebody did an experiment a while ago.
They took a famous violinist and ask him to play on a metro station. Although he was a virtuoso and played the most fantastic music that people will pay good money to see, nobody stopped to listen.
That is until somebody recognized him and then everybody stopped and polled out their cellphones.

And that's why you are not taking your own advice. 
You are just a bum playing the violin in a metro station. You have not yet recognized your own genius.


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