How To Take Your Own Advice

Tip #114: Start taking on the advice you give to others.

The why: You know that moment where a friend comes to you in crisis, and you’re laying down some excellent nuggets of wisdom, and you begin to wonder why you don’t write the truth bombs your delivering down in some sort of how-to-live-better guide? Maybe for a moment you even consider becoming a life coach, or giving a TED talk?

I’m sure we have all experienced this at least once before.

But after this there comes another moment, a moment where you question why, seeing as you’re so good at sorting out the problems of others, you don’t take your own advice?

I truly believe that within ourselves we have the knowledge and the power to overcome anything that we come up against. However, we get held back by an unwillingness to give ourselves the time and the headspace to work out exactly how to solve our own internal problems.

Part of me thinks we feel like we don’t deserve it, or that some issues just seem too impossible, too insurmountable to deal with.

When it comes to helping our friends we will dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to finding solutions for whatever ails them, but rarely extend this courtesy to ourselves.

It’s time to change that.

What we need to do is listen to ourselves more often.

Because, in truth, no one knows us like we know us. Only we can put ourselves in context. A context that expands from the moment you’re born, right up to this very moment.

Sometimes we know we know the answers, we know what to do, but we don’t act on it.

It’s time to turn words into action, and instead deliver some home-truths to your own doorstep.

“But”, I hear you ask, “how do we do this?”

Well dear reader, by using the ‘Friend In Crisis’ technique I have developed.

So, if we know that we find it easier to give advice to friends than ourselves, then we must imagine ourselves as our very best friend.

A best friend that you are literally stuck with for life.

Say you were having an issue within a relationship that was causing you stress and worry, picture in your mind what you would say to your friend who was in the same situation.

Make it like one of those heartfelt, intense, life changing moments in a film where the protagonist comes to an inspiring realisation after getting a sermon from a wiser, older and slightly harsher secondary character.

Literally talk to yourself as you would a friend.

So, now you have the great advice, how do you act on it?

In honesty, I think this is easier to do than acting on the advice of one of our closest allies.

This is because, with our associate’s advice, we can dismiss it, saying that because they’re not actually in the situation, they don’t have all the facts. They don’t know what they’re talking about. We tell ourselves they’re wrong, even if deep down we know they’re not.

Whereas, there is no hiding from yourself. You have all the information you need to make a good decision, you are just choosing not to.

That is something that you have to own up to and take full responsibility for. This is the first step to taking on your own advice. Because if you admit that you, and only you, are responsible for the choices you make, then you are more likely to make good decisions.

This is because if you have someone else to blame, then you can get away with making the wrong choices; staying with that bad partner, not learning the piano, not leaving a job you hate because it pays well. None of them are your fault, so it’s out of your hands what happens. You couldn’t have stopped it.

But, when you take ownership of your own destiny and fate, suddenly the stakes are higher. You have to care more because you have to live with yourself. Your choices are forming the kind of person you actually are.

The second thing you must do is to understand that sometimes doing what is right is not easy in the short term, but in the long term it will make your life easy. We need to start throwing off our need for short term fulfilment, in pursuit of our longer-term visions.

The key to being able to take your own advice, is having the motivation to act on that advice, and that can usually only come from seeing your life in the future, where the advice given has changed your world for the better, rather than focusing on what that advice may mean you have to give up in the present.

Think about future you for once.

I know for myself personally…I hate past Ruth sometimes. Like why didn’t she learn three languages at age 7? Why did she eat all that chocolate last week? Why did she spend all that money?

Treat your future self to something great.

The third is to act. Bravely and boldly. To actually have the will and understanding to take your own advice, and to turn it into a series of meaningful actions, and a plan.

  1. Imagine yourself giving advice to a friend
  2. Trust that you do have the answers
  3. Take responsibility
  4. Think about future you

Now of course, it’s important to listen to others, like I hope you listen to me, but the fact remains sometimes you need to take your own advice.

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