This one is a tricky one. Tricky because I usually dislike being on the receiving end of it but then I go and dish out advice like it’s lollies! I think everyone has experienced this. There are a few areas where this is a big thing, such as parenting, buying or renting property and health issues to name a few. I remember someone telling me I should put honey on the golden staph infection in my leg a few years ago and being very peeved!
I try not to do this as I find it infuriating when others do so for me – well most of the time. Sometimes a person will give me advice which I didn’t expect but which I actually find helpful. For kids – and some older kids – parents and older siblings are pretty good at handing out advice whether you want it or not! Managers at work can do so and perfect strangers can as well. Social media is a hotbed of free and often unwanted advice! Be it about about your choice in home decor or whether you are or are not autistic – some people on social media do seem to enjoy dishing out their thoughts on what you should do or which things your should purchase or how to live your life in any number of rather irritating ways.
There is a sort of intersectional issue here as well. I was talking with a lovely friend about this post just before and we agreed that advice given to Disabled folks often – although not always – has an ableist element to it. There is an assumption that Disabled people are somehow inferior or unable to know our own minds or navigate life (apparently) as well as our abled peers.
The medical system is premised on power dynamics and viewing patients / consumers as needing fixing and needing a lot of advice. Because of this we can get a lot of unsolicited advice and when we do not follow it we are viewed as being non-compliant or even that we are sabotaging our own health care, even if this isn’t the case. Obviously medical professionals have experience of medical and health-related things but often their advice goes beyond the bounds of their medical knowledge and actually isn’t very helpful – or wise. I have found that having schizophrenia and being Autistic and ADHD means people make assumptions about me – what job I might do, my relationships and interest in sex, how much money I might have and indeed how well I might manage that money and where I live – and whether I rent or own property. Usually people get all of those matters totally wrong as I am not typical in how I live my life as an Autistic and schizophrenia person. This just demonstrates to me that people should hold off from the advice until they have all the facts!
I mentioned my own issues with giving out unsolicited advice. It really bothers me that I do it. I think it comes from the place of my experience. I have a VERY wide experience of life and I have learned insight and wisdom in my almost 49 years on this planet. But I ned to know that my experience is not the only experience and maybe if I suggest something that worked for me that it might not work for others.
I find I need to pull myself up on the advice thing. If I don’t enjoy people doing it to me than I should not do ti to others. There is a power relationship here – assumed or real – and I like to avoid those where I can. So hold off on giving out unsolicited advice and if you see me doing it please remind me and I will stop!