It’s Not About You: Why Some People Reject Our Help
It’s time to stop blaming ourselves for other people’s perspectives.
Have you ever given someone advice, only to have it thrown back in your face?
And it hurts, right?!
I’ve been thinking about the reasons why some people reject our advice, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. This is because I know that it can be painful when we know what would help someone, and they don’t do it.
Assumptions and Expectations
Recently, I offered advice to someone on a forum that encourages helping others. That advice was met with a very vitriolic response that left me wondering why I even bothered to try to help. His response annoyed me and left me quite upset. Once I had processed these emotions, I started to ask what I’d done wrong. I even came to the ‘conclusion’ that I wasn’t good enough to help anyone.
Of course, his response was nothing to do with me, or my being good enough (or not). It was all about him and his perspective.
My recovery has been strengthened by taking the advice of others. I liken it to going clothes shopping: if I thought that the advice might work for me, I’d try it on. If it didn’t look or feel right, I’d put it back on the hanger. Trying out someone’s help was my choice, and it was also my choice to stick with it, or not.
As I benefitted from others’ advice, I have expectations everyone will want my advice. I’m reminding myself that we are all different people, at different stages of our life journeys.
No one can get better until they truly want to. We accept help only when we are ready, and that says nothing about the person offering the advice.
My self-doubt does not come from the advice itself, but from the assumptions I’ve built about other people. When we offer help, we expect others to take it, right? If you’re in a forum where helping others is de rigueur, do you have assumptions that group members are open to help? I know that I do!
My experience has been that people sometimes join these groups merely in the hope of being heard. They don’t want advice, just to share.
I used to be one of those people and labelled myself as an ‘attention seeker’ on the back of it. I was never rude to people who offered advice, but I wasn’t there for help. I wanted sympathy, and to feel like I wasn’t alone.
Sharing is important. I had to share before I was able to start leaning into advice I was given. I look back and see I could have found recovery faster if I’d not spent so long sharing and not listening. That fast-track wasn’t my journey, though.
And it isn’t the journey of many other people either.
Purpose Makes Rejection Painful
Digging into my frustration about people shunning help has clarified my purpose. The frustration is actually an indication that I know that my purpose is to help others. When I’m not helping others, I feel misalignment with my dharma.
I have faith in myself that the advice I give, for the most part, will help others if they use it. I’m confident I can offer help from my personal experience, things I’ve read, and what I’ve seen benefitted others. I see this not only as a skill, but also a talent that makes up who I am.
My ability to combine this research and experience with my intuition and empathy is why I am on this planet.
The problem I have is that my strong intuition and empathy mean that I want to help others. In fact, I often can see what they need and are feeling before they do (just ask my husband — he hates this! Ha!). As a coach, I’m not overly gentle: I will feed people the ‘shit sandwich’ regularly, and call people out on their BS.
I’m not the coach for everyone because I can be somewhat brutal (with a loving cuddle). I do tone it down in situations when I need to. I’m like this because I’m passionate, and I know those I can help best are people most receptive to hearing hard truths. I’m not mean, I do this in a loving and empathic way, but I do say the things other coaches shy away from.
Victims of Our Circumstances
Those who post in a forum without wanting help, who are seeking to invite others into their ‘pity party’, are victims of their circumstances. I spent years being a victim, blaming everything and everyone (including myself) in my life.
Once someone told me I was living in victimhood, I realised I wanted to change. I stepped into my free will, and onto the path of progress and recovery. I am lucky, I suppose, that this coincided with a time I was open-minded enough to listen to that person’s advice.
I realised that I could ask for help, not sympathy, and that I needed to do that in order to improve my life. Now, when I post in forums, I do so either in a way that helps others (‘here’s what worked for me’) or to ask a specific question about how to move through something uncomfortable.
I ask myself an important question whenever I post something: “Is this a win or an ask?” If it’s neither, I look at it again to see whether it’s something that needs to be reworded or whether I need to share it at all.
My old stories and limiting beliefs now rarely come to the surface without my noticing them. I know that I am better than them, and can change and rise above them.
It’s Never About You
The response to your advice is never about you. It is always about the person receiving it. And, get this, that’s whether their response is positive or negative! Our job is only to put the advice out into the world, to share what we are here to share. It is not our role to control how others receive those offerings.
I’m becoming less attached to the outcome, to the response I get from the person I offer advice to. This helps me to simply share without worrying about how it will land. I trust that I will say what needs to be said, and it is up to the recipient to accept that ‘gift’ or not.
If the recipient rejects my advice or is vitriolic towards me, that’s not saying anything about what I’ve shared. It is simply saying they’re not in the right place to hear what I’m saying right now. I give meaning to their reply — I make their words mean that I’m not good enough to coach, for example. I get to choose the meaning I give to their words, or — preferably — give them no meaning whatever.
The way we interpret or give meaning to what we read or hear comes from past experiences and stories. They do not come from the reality of that specific moment. No one else’s words can define me.
People are on their own journey, and I have no control over that. I have control over my reactions and responses.
It’s my purpose to channel the advice that I come up with and share it with those I believe will benefit. It is up to them how they receive what I am giving to them. Just because I received advice in the past willingly, it does not mean that anyone else should do the same.
People are only ready to be helped when they are ready. We cannot force them.
Originally published at https://wildeaboutwellbeing.com on December 3, 2020.