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How Loving Advice Turns Into a Weapon That Kills Relationships

How Loving Advice Turns Into a Weapon That Kills Relationships

“Don’t be upset.” “You shouldn’t worry so much.”

All of these statements are seemingly harmless and are meant to be helpful. But unfortunately, they are not either of those things. In fact, these statements could be construed as dismissive or insensitive. When your partner is already experiencing a period of doubt, the lack of support from you could lead them to even question your feelings for them.

Sharing a problem is sharing a piece of mind

When a person gets more intimate with someone, they are more willing to share their inner thoughts with them. They won’t just share how they feel with anyone because it’s only this “someone” that they can trust.

So when your partner is sharing their issues with you, they are making themselves vulnerable. When they share things like “I’ve had a tough day at work, my boss kept assigning me tasks even though I already had a lot on my plate,” or “I tried to help our neighbor out for her housework because she’s sick, and now I’m just exhausted,”  they’re not looking for a solution. They just want to vent to someone who will listen and try to understand.

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    Wanting to fix a problem is natural

    Instinctively, when someone shares with you about their bad day, it’s human nature to want to help out, especially someone that you hold near and dear. By offering help and support, you are by no means intending to be offensive.

    You may say things like “you shouldn’t worry so much,” or “from now on I will handle it,” or “but you shouldn’t feel that way, you should just…”

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      But sadness doesn’t need to be fixed

      This sort of problem does not require a solution on your part. They’re not asking you for one. And saying things like, “don’t worry about it,” is rude and dismissive. This is offering unsolicited advice when your opinion was never asked for to begin with.

      Your well intended advice could make them feel belittled, which will make them feel even worse because they are not receiving the support they need. This misleads them to think that you don’t care about their feelings, and you don’t try to understand them.

      Think about your partners issues like metaphorical houseplant. Plants need to be watered. But they don’t need water all of the time. Trying to be helpful because you think you know what it needs, you over-water the plant. You think you’re doing a good thing, but the plant doesn’t actually need more water.

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        The disclosure of their problem was not an invitation for you to try to solve them. It needs to be expressed and processed.

        Sometimes plants need water, but at other times they just need some sun. Sometimes people need advice, but at other times all that they really need is for you to listen and show that you are trying to understand. So instead of “over-watering your plant”, place it under the sun to give it the nourishment it needs.

          Purge the urge, be the rock

          When you are someone’s rock, you offer support simply just by being there. The rock doesn’t offer advice. The rock offers a place to rest until they are strong enough to continue on.

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          If there is no invitation to give advice, don’t. Chances are your partner doesn’t actually want it. If they did, they would have asked for it. Especially if your “helpful” advice entails what they should or shouldn’t do, how they should or shouldn’t feel.

          Sometimes things that you say with good intentions can be received negatively, ultimately making things worse. There are a few things that you can do to demonstrate active listening and to just simply be there for your partner.

          • Give reassurance through body language. Just listen. Keep eye contact and nod reassuringly as they are stating their points. This shows that you are intently listening, which is all that they really want.
          • Validate their feelings. Instead of saying, “I know exactly how you feel, it’s hard.” Say, “I can never understand how you feel, but I can see that it’s very hard for you.” This way you are validating their feelings without being belittling or condescending.
          • Show your consideration. Process everything that they have said to you and reiterate it in a way that shows understanding. Instead of saying, “you are under a lot of stress,” say,” you have a lot on your plate. The last thing you need it even more. I can see how this is very stressful for you.”

          Lend an ear. Listen. Let them process through their issues by talking through it. Just simply letting it out might make them feel better.

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          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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          Last Updated on September 17, 2019

          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

          Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

          But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

          Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

          1. Spend Time with Positive People

          If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

          Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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          2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

          When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

          Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

          3. Contribute to the Community

          One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

          Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

          4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

          Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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          Some recommendations for you:

          5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

          You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

          If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

          There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

          6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

          It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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          Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

          7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

          Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

          Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

          8. Offer Compliments to Others

          Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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          9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

          If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

          Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

          10. Practice Self-Care

          Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

          Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

          Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

          More About Staying Positive

          Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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