Do you have friends who don't listen to your good advice? Here' how to deal with your frustration!
Do you have a friend or relative who doesn't listen to your good relationship advice? Every week I speak with at least one person like you.
Perhaps you are in despair because of the way your spouse procrastinates about bill paying or know without a doubt that your brother shouldn't sell his house or that your best friend would look much prettier if she cut her hair.
Do you pride yourself on your taste, your smarts and your experience? Often the advice you want to give the unfortunate person is quite sound. You have confidence in your wisdom so why don't they? It is extremely frustrating!
Many years ago as I was starting out as a psychotherapist, I read a wonderful autobiography written by a well-known and respected psychologist. He recounted that when he first opened his practice people would come for a few sessions and never come back.
He couldn't figure out why that was happening since he was well trained and felt confident about his abilities. He went to his mentor, another therapist who had many years of experience, and asked for help.
After he described what was happening, his wise advisor told him that he was indeed a good psychotherapist. The trouble was that he was "picking green fruit."
The older counselor explained that although many people are troubled and suffering from problems such as depression, anxiety, trauma, or addiction, they simply were not ready to do anything about it.
People like your friends or relatives are not stupid. They just aren't ready to heal or change. I remember a time when I was "green fruit." After a very unhappy marriage I got a divorce thanks to the help of psychotherapy plus group support.
I told myself that I deserved a better relationship with a more stable man. Soon after I began to date again I started a long-term relationship with someone I thought was great. I was in love!
Then each of my friends called me to ask what in the world I was doing! Couldn't I see that this new man was just like my ex? No, I couldn't see what I was doing, and I didn't know that I couldn't see it.
I remember that I even made a list comparing the traits of both men to prove to my friends that they were wrong. The relationship lasted two years during which time I became more and more disheartened.
It took that long for me to come to my senses. I finally woke up when I found out that he was coming on to other women at work.
The pain of his betrayal drove me back into therapy where I resolved the remaining issues that stood in my way and found my perfect partner. Since that time I have become a psychotherapist and observe that occasionally I also attempt to pick "green fruit."
That was my experience with one of the first people who came for help after I had begun using EFT tapping, an amazing acupressure approach that heals trauma in record time. A woman I will call Valerie was in a state of extreme post-traumatic distress after being mugged at gunpoint. I was able to help her calm down significantly during our first session.
However, she called to cancel her next session explaining that she had seen a segment on the Oprah TV Show that dealt with Post Traumatic Syndrome in which the expert explained that getting over PTSD takes a very long time!
Somehow that made sense to her, so she decided that although EFT tapping worked rapidly she needed to suffer more, as the doctor on TV indicated.
No amount of explaining or offering scientific proof convinced Valerie to return. People like her resist healing because a hidden part of them is afraid that getting over their problem will change their identity in some way.
Perhaps they tell themselves that they don't deserve to get over their problem or be happier. Whatever the rationalization, nothing will convince them. They are going to hang on to their distress with all their might.
Can you remember a time in your life when people tried to give you advice and you turned it away? When? What was it about? Did you eventually find out that they were right? Were you as blind as I was?
Perhaps the person you are so angry with for not listening to your helpful observation or recommendation is in the same unready state of mind. The only way to deal with your frustration is by acknowledging that the person you care about is "green fruit" that may or may not ripen.
What do you need to do to stop giving unwanted advice and feel upset when it is not well received? When you feel infuriated or rejected by others who seem hell-bent on doing the wrong thing that might ruin their lives, take a deep breath and say this out loud:
Even though __________ (name of person) keeps doing the same thing over and over again that is causing him/her misery and won't follow my good advice, it's not my problem. As of this moment I have decided that I will never again give in to the temptation to "pick green fruit"!