Why You Seek Advice When You Don't Really Need It

We all need and seek advice sometimes.  You're new at something and you contact experienced friends, listen to podcasts and read books for advice.  You find yourself in a new situation and reach out to someone who has been there before.  You really don't know what to do and could use some guidance. 

But there are other times we seek advice when maybe we aren't as ignorant. I texted a friend this morning to see how her date with a guy she's been seeing went last night. Her reply was exactly what I had expected after hearing about their other dates: Not great. Got any advice?

The fact is, she already knows what she needs to do. She doesn't need my advice but she is asking for it anyway- why? Like anyone who is in a situation where it's as obvious to them as it is to anyone viewing their situation what the solution is, she is experiencing one or a combination of 5 things. We've all been there before.  Maybe you are there right now!

You're asking, what should I do? when you know the answer already because....

1. You are hoping there is something in the situation you don't see and someone else might point it out to you

2. You really want someone to back you up on your choice and confirm it's the right one

3. You're holding on to the potential you see in the situation even though the present reality is clearly not what you want

4. You aren't satisfied now, but you can't see what's ahead, and you're afraid whatever it is will be even worse

5. You are hoping you're wrong even though you know you're right

What do all of these reasons for staying stuck and seeking advice you don't need have in common?  They are a quest for certainty.  Essentially, you don't want to make a move until you are absolutely certain without a trace of doubt.  Certain that you see the situation clearly.  Certain that you are right. Certain that nothing can or will change. Certain that you'll have no regrets later. Certain you aren't making a mistake.

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”          ~John Allen Paulos

The thing is, very often you cannot be certain -no matter how much time you spend thinking and talking about it- what new possibilities will present themselves later, about what might change in the future, or where you will end up if you act. But you can honestly answer the following 2 questions about circumstances as they are right now:

1. Is it working? 2. Am I happy?

According to Chris Guillebeau, popular author and world-traveller, answering no to these two questions means it's time to act differently.  And, I agree! 

Secondly, trust yourself. Seeking advice when you already know the solution is sometimes a reflection of your self-doubt.  Trust your own instincts, your own mind, and your own perceptions. You are wiser than you give yourself credit for.  

Finally, trust life. If, despite continuous effort and adjustment on your part, something is still just not working and you are still not happy, trust that life will open new doors that lead to opportunities much more suitable for you. Change is hard. Change takes courage. Be brave. Don't settle, and you'll see that life has a way of rewarding you for willingness to live your best life no matter what.

Thanks for reading.