Giving unsolicited advice can be seen as a violation of boundaries in itself, because helping and supporting others is a very delicate process. It takes a lot of empathy, curiosity, and patience, while walking around and throwing simple, blank statements at people isn't very helpful.
Also, a helpful person's own motivations could be behind their behavior. Is she doing it to really help them, or does she have an obligation to change all the people around her who are different from her and by "helping others" are she managing her own anxiety?
3 useless tips that you should never tell a person who suffers
People like to think that they are always helping, but sometimes that is not the case. Here are three pieces of useless advice that people give to others who are experiencing an internal struggle.
1. "Just let it go"
Other variations: "Forget the past." "Keep going".
Simply telling someone to ignore their past experiences is highly counterproductive. For the most part, we are products of our environment. The way we are and react to our experiences is based on our past experiences.
So, if someone says that you shouldn't try to understand why you feel, act and think the way you do right now, you will be moving away from understanding yourself better. That is the opposite of a useful approach.
Sometimes people get stuck, intellectually and emotionally, and instead of constructively analyzing their situation, they simply ponder, overthink and feel overwhelmed. So, depending, it can definitely be beneficial to just get up and go do things instead of sitting in your room for months without making any progress. But generally, the source of your core problems is in your past, so exploring it is vital.
When you understand why you are the way you are and why you have the problems that you have, then you can move slowly and move on. This process is very complex and multi-layered. Simplifying it is useless.
2. "Just be more rational"
Variations: "Be more logical." "Make better decisions." "It just improves your behavior."
Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this statement, it is not as simple as some make it out.
Of course, being more aligned with objective reality and being more rational is highly beneficial. When we feel overwhelmed or have other problems, it is preferable to use reason and evidence to analyze the situation and make a rational and well-informed decision.
However, most people have trouble regulating their emotions or have not developed the rational mindset required to do so. So to tell a person like this to "just be more rational" is not very realistic.
In many cases, irrationality is a defense mechanism, so it is necessary to explore what is behind it. Even if a person realizes that they are not being reasonable, they often cannot become more logical and rational with a statement. It takes a lot of self-employment, studying and practicing it. It is not something you can do with the snap of your fingers.
It is really difficult to convince someone that things are really different from what the person feels they are. There is a reason why a person feels irrational fear or acts against their own interest. Yes, being more aware of your flawed perspective and changing your thought patterns and behavior definitely helps. But telling a person to just do it won't solve anything substantial.
3. "Don't think about it and now"
Variations: "Things are not as bad as they seem." "It's all in your head". "But your life is good." "Just be happy".
This is a variation of the previous points. It means that the person may not be realistic, that they worry too much, that things are not as they think they are and that they should not focus so much on that.
Again, there are definitely situations where a person can step back and look at their situation more objectively to get a different perspective on things and stop worrying. Yes, sometimes it is possible to regulate your emotions by distracting yourself with an activity, and that is enough to break the pattern of thought and emotion. However, people who give this kind of advice tend to make things seem too simplistic and end up dismissing the person's struggles.
Often the person cannot "just not think about it" because their thoughts are compulsive, intrusive, and highly involuntary. Your emotions are too overwhelming and too invasive. So "thinking about something else" is not that simple. This is the case even when the person realizes that they are irrational or that their situation is not as bad as their emotions are telling them.
Psychological and emotional problems are complex. Some people don't understand it or deny it and end up simplifying things. Not only that, when they see other people struggling with mental issues, they tend to advise them by saying something obviously simplistic like, "Be happy," as if a depressed person could just snap their fingers and become happy.
It takes a lot of work to identify the real source of your problems and solve them real and effectively. Minimizing this can make the struggling person feel even worse, even if it's unintentional. A better approach is empathy, support, and curiosity.
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