What would you tell a friend to do?

by Rebecca Eliason, M.S.

It’s so easy to give advice to friends, family members, and people we don’t even know so well. Someone tells us a problem and within moments we have clear solutions to fix the problems of the world.

Labor Day weekend I went to the US Open which was one of the highlights of my end of summer. I found myself in the stands watching a player I kind of knew from my youth, and thinking to myself, “hit a forehand down the line! C’mon, you know this. Are you not watching?” Now, with all due respect, he is the professional tennis player and I am the one sitting in the stands. He knows this game better than I ever will but nonetheless, I was convinced I knew the right thing to do. If only he would have taken my “advice” maybe he would have won. The irony is, if you put me in the game, I’d have probably also hit the shot cross court too and not been able to realize that a down-the-line shot was what was needed to win the match.

Sometimes we need a different vantage point to see things more clearly. Perhaps, that’s one of the reasons it’s so much easier to give friends good advice than to know the right thing to do introspectively.

Have you ever gotten a frantic call from a friend who is really stressed/angry/sad that they are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and are going to be late for a job interview/child’s dance recital/1st date? What would you tell them? If it were me, I’d say, “I’m so sorry you’re late. Traffic is so annoying but you’ll just explain what happened when you get there and hopefully they’ll understand and if they don’t understand then there’s nothing you can do about it. Being stressed/angry/sad about it is just not going to help anything. Rather, focus on the road.” When I’m late, that is not my initial train of thought. I typically jump to all of the reasons why being 5 minutes late is going to be terrible. However, if I could give myself the advice I give to friends I’d probably be a lot better off.

I implore you take a different perspective when your unhealthy emotions (anger, anxiety, depression, guilt) start to get the best of you. Maybe today before your road rage kicks into high gear you can think about how you would tell a friend to handle tardiness and take that advice yourself.

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