Advice Always Comes With A Giant Asterisk

July 19, 2017


I don’t know if this post applies to anybody else, or if it’s really just me…

But sometimes I feel like I hear great advice from people kind of about how to live, or how to be a “better person,” or live a better life, or things like that…

And sometimes it’s really helpful. I totally think it’s inspiring and great when Cory Booker says, “Be kind to unkind people, ’cause they’re the ones who really need it.”

I think it’s beautiful when people respond to trolls with nice loving kindness, instead of getting in the mud. (@ChelseaClinton is one of many great examples of people who expertly do this.)

But I think there’s a difference between showing unending “kindness” and “love” and allowing people to walk all over you.

If you respond kindly to a troll being a jerk to you, you can mute them and never talk to them again after that. (It also might be better advice, to some extent, at least sometimes, to not engage trolls at all.)

Anyway, the point is, even if it’s great to be loving and kind, it’s not necessarily great to be so unendingly loving that you get into abusive situations.

As sexual assault guy got progressively worse toward me, one of the things I kept saying to myself was, “be kind to unkind people, they’re the ones who need it,” “be kind to unkind people, “be kind to unkind people.” In many ways, it became my mantra.

But the advice isn’t “be kind to people abusing you,” or “be kind to your own detriment.”

You have to remember to be kind to yourself!

Also, you could argue that part of the dictionary definition of kindness is helping others… And that if you’re letting people be abusive, you’re just enabling them… Is that really “helping” them?

I also think of a Drew Carey I adore. When someone asked him the secret to being happy all the time, he said, “My goal is constant love and forgiveness. For me and everybody I meet.”

But again, I believe, i think, that you can forgive someone without necessarily being willing to immediately go back to whatever relationship you had. And I think a lot of the stuff I said about kindness (above), can be applied to love as well.

I think it is wonderful to live in a world where you try not to hold grudges, and you try to see the best in people, and have a large well of love and kindness and forgiveness. I think that can be the way to go 99% of the time. But I think you also must remember that your first duty is to you. That might feel crummy and selfish and icky and not fun. And it’s so great to put others first – but not to the detriment of your own safety.

And maybe the rest of you understood this, but I definitely did not fully grasp how important the asterisk at the end of all advice is.

Speaking of advice, one piece of advice that I’ve come across and liked is, “Do no harm, but take no s#*t. (I mean, I think I want something a little more forward-ly nice than “do no harm,” but if we’re looking for pieces of advice, I kinda feel like that’s a good one.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?