Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Advice, opinions and saying what you actually believe.

Yesterday I came up with a list of people I could ask for advice. Or, at least, an opinion. Okay, so the topic, as it often is, was 'who was right?' and, quite frankly, I knew that although it would be nice to have someone take my side, I also wanted some unbiased views. My list was pretty long. In fact, 10 people made the cut, but in the end I decided to talk to my dear old Dad. After all, Dad is pretty good at telling me when I'm being unreasonable, and this time he came through as predicted. Dad did point out that even though he tries to see everyone's side of the argument, which was a non-event really, he is always going to be a little biased.

And then I thought about the other people who didn't make the cut. And the reasons why.

In my world, their are two types of advice - solicited and, well, not. A lot of non-solicited advice came about before Stephen and I were married. And a lot of this advice was based around " I'm married and stuff. So I know everything." But, also, and forgive for saying this, but being married does not prepare you for everything, or at least understanding other people's problems. In fact, kind of like theology, I get relationships even less now than what I did before. And that's probably not a bad thing.

The problem with seeking advice, is that it often comes packaged in the following forms:

For me, I see advice this way. Either I like someone or I don't. If two people are in conflict, I will usually like one person less than the other. Most of the time it's because I like Person A better than Person B, usually because I've known them for longer or find them more of a kindred spirit. I don't know. I play favourites a lot.

The problem with seeking advice from us biased ones is that we want Person A to be right, or Person B to be known as 'the problem'. On occasions, my bias has failed miserably, but usually because I have given Person A too much credit, or been lied to. In short, these people are really good if you know that you are doing the right thing and you need someone to back you up. Now, seeing as my advice query from yesterday, I could already foresee the answers. Hence, well, no biased people made the edited list.

1# fan club 
Unquenchable belief can be dangerous. I am happily a 1# fan club of a few people in my life, but this means that I am not always the most sensible person to talk to. I don't think things through properly and I'm probably too easy going to form moral opinions about most things.

The best time for this kind of advice is really for positive situations. When I went to India people worried about me but there were a few in my corner cheering me on all the same.

Let's be passive aggressive
Or not.
When a girl says 'whatever' or ''I'm fine', that's a lie. Basically that means 'It's not actually fine, but I'll leave it to you to work out why I'm annoyed/disappointed/well, whatever'. And sometimes this advice is good, well, that is if you can work out why the person has suddenly decided that you are making a good/bad decision. But you can't really use this for anything, except gaining some momentum in your quest for knowledge.

The worst worst WORST one I ever got was actually so nasty that I haven't seen that person since.
Lis: (some long text message about being engaged)
Friend: Oh, so when is your next engagement party? HAHAHA xoxo

Yes, really.
Okay, so there was a lot of issues arising from that... from her side of the story. And that's not for me to work out. Having said that, passive aggressive friends aren't all bad, they just don't cope with having compassion, or they get sick of your general complaining.

Vested interest
Here is my favourite - you, you're moving back to Adelaide? Great I can actually see you more than twice a year. I think I've done my fair share of putting up with vested interest conversations for the last ten years. This happens at the best and worst of times. The 'oh, my friend is getting married and I'll never see her again' (true, in some cases at least) or 'mmm, if they don't have a house, they can come and live with me!' (this was really a sweet deal and one I'm glad I took up). Vested interest is not always bad, but it is very dependent on circumstance.

If I had my time again
And here is my least favourite.

I have sat through years of uni lecturers advising us what to do and not do, based around the ideas of what they would do again, if they had the chance. What I would do is not listen to any of you. Now, how did that work out? Okay, not so great, but the idea of mistakes is that YOU learn from them and let others make their own.

I don't really love hearing about the so-called glory days. There are just far too many happy tales, and a few too many sad ones, which always end with bad advice about what they would have done, if they had their time again.

But, really, the most important... differing world views.

Herein lies the true issue with issues: truths and absolutes.

I have a few absolutes myself. And sometimes I inflict (yes, I did mean to use that word) on people, mostly because they are what is true to me. So, for example, after copping a major fine for using my phone while driving, that was absolutely it. No exceptions. Sometimes I am the same with speeding, and I have racked up my share of speeding fines too. Mallala, you made me cry and bleed me dry.

The problem with world views is that people know they have them, they are studied at university and while you think you see how they're applied, the context is so out of place it is almost impossible to view it in the real world. It's only been in the last six months or so that I've seen world views come into play and why they important when seeking support and advice. I could talk about the pro-life versus pro-choice debate, but I really can't handle too much of that. Okay, so take gay marriage for example.

I have probably a 50/50 share of friends with views on either side. Really though, it's only been debated by some Christian groups and promoted by others as an act of love and equality. I know where my support lies, but it has taken me a long time to get there. Here's why: world view. My world view was centred around the belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. That's there in the text, Google it, I'm not here for that debate. Meanwhile, relational, loving me wants to see Christianity in a much more fluid way, a life full of grace and acceptance. And I found that my worldview was not shaped around relationships with anyone from the LGBT tribe because I didn't really know anyone who had came out, let alone anyone in my own circles who believed in such a thing. It was black and white, that was it. And sometime in 2009 I was like 'You know what, it is not my decision'. How could I inflict a worldview I wasn't even too sure of myself on someone else?

(Do know how hard it was to find a pic of Richard Gere and Jules in their differing world view outfits?)

Sometimes I can't agree with decisions other people make. But I've decided that isn't really my call to make anymore. It just isn't fair to call someone out on something just because my world views conflicts with their own.

This is why finding like-minded people is so important. I have learned this the hard way - sometimes I am far too open about myself and that allows people with conflicting worldviews to be judge me, sometimes severely and often unfairly. The main problem is that once you see or hear of something doing something that is white when you believe in black, regardless of their deliberations or excuses or explanations, you shut down. Instantly. It is ingrained so easily and so hard to step away from. In fact, I lost a job because of it. That's why I hate world views, because a) they exist and b) people use it to make calls that are often unfair and unjust because they cannot see beyond their own view.


Last year I spent a lot of time gleaning gems and pearls of wisdom from a lot of people who are in my life. This didn't end well for me. I took everything they said to heart and saw it as my own failure to be a good person... according to them.

And now, well, I've chucked it all. Okay, so I kept parts of it, words of encouraging and memories of cake and sunshine. But mostly, my days of seeking advice from too many people are over. That's it.

No one is ever going to be 100% unbiased and opinionated. But the best people come pretty close.