I never liked getting unsolicited advice. I’m not talking about turning away good advice or not listening to friends who have my best interests at heart. I try to remember that my friends who offer advice want to support my path to my dream. I would do the same for them.
However, it seems like other people always have something to say. I’m talking about the “you oughta” folks. They take it upon themselves to tell you what to do.
“You oughta not spend your money on that.”
“You oughta wait until retirement to get your RV.”
“Listen to me. Here’s what you oughta do instead . . .”
Most “you oughta” folks mean well, but paying too much attention to them can wear down your confidence. It can make you feel like you should live up to others’ expectations instead of follow your true path.
That’s why I’ve adopted some principles to reduce the impact of the “you oughta” folks on my self-image and motivation. If you want to get people to stop telling you what to do, keep these in mind:
Stop Being a People Pleaser.
My low self-esteem used to compel me to overextend myself with others, trying to be everything to everybody. This tendency to be a people pleaser might have trained some “you oughtas” to throw unsolicited advice my way. According to Vanessa Van Edwards,
A people pleaser is someone who tries hard to make others happy. They will often go out of their way to please someone, even if it means taking their own valuable time of resources away from them.
It’s NOT your job to seek approval from others. When you’re more concerned about making others happy, you take the focus off of what you want. If you can free yourself from the need for others’ approval, you won’t worry so much about making others feel a bit more comfortable.
Thou Shalt Not Cast Pearls Before Swine.
If you have a Bible, open it to Matthew 7:6. If not, just follow along: “Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
This means not to reveal something special to people who won’t appreciate it. Think twice about sharing your dream with people who don’t understand it and what it means to you. It’s a waste of your time and mental energy.
Own Your Actions.
To the non-swine people in my life, I talk about my RV dream with confidence. But it wasn’t always that way.
This used to be me: “Well, you know, it might seem silly, but here’s what I’m kinda thinking of doing . . .”
This made me sound hesitant and doubtful, which is an open invitation for the “you oughta” folks to weigh in with their negativity.
Now I say, “Oh, thanks for asking! I’m saving up for an RV so I can live where I want and experience true freedom. I couldn’t be more excited!” Sometimes I add, “What do you dream about doing?”
Catch and Release.
Discouraging words can be deflating. It can be difficult, but I try not to get defensive. Instead, I just catch the comment, and then release it so it’s no longer attached to me. Suppose a well-meaning “you oughta” friend tells me, “Well, aaaaaaaactually, you’re not going to be safe doing the RV thing. You’d be a woman traveling alone. You’ll be a target.” Here’s how I might respond:
- Take a breath.
- Smile and respond:
- “Duly noted. Thanks for being so concerned about my safety.”
- Or . . .
- “Aaaawwww, that’s sweet. Thank you for not wanting me to cross paths with a serial axe murderer.”
- Smile again.
- Pivot and change the subject: “I see you’re not wearing a mask. Wanna bum a disposable one off of me?”
You’re not going to change any minds if you get defensive or angry. Just take a breath, smile, and respond politely. Use a little humor if you can. Again, I recommend smiling; It’ll make you feel better.
How do you handle the “you oughta” people in your life who try to tell you what to do? Please leave a comment.