You have the right – even the responsibility – to respectfully disregard bad advice, even if the person dishing it out has the best of intentions, like most do. After all, the road to heaven is paved with good intentions am I right? Look, I love good advice, don’t get me wrong, I really do, but some advice is best meant to be ignored. Here’s an example of some light hearted personal favorites gathered from my very own experiences:
- I was about 8 and I sat on a bee that was buzzing around on the lawn, so my mom told me to put bacon on my ass to pull out the stinger – it didn’t work but all the dogs in town were loving me.
- I used to sit by my grandpa when going for a drive and he told me that when it was my turn to start driving not to use my blinkers because it is nobody’s business where I’m going. I knew it wasn’t good advice even then because my grandma slapped him on the arm and “John, don’t be filling her head with such nonsense, your going to get her killed when she learns to drive”.
- My friend’s dad told her if she does something she will regret in the morning, try sleeping until noon. Noon is when everything gets better.
- My mom told me if I tried on her panty hose for a minute and no longer, my legs would be tanned when I took them off.
- Many times I was told – If you fall off that horse and break your legs, don’t come running to me. No shit Sherlock
- I was told that if you cook something in the oven and leave the light on, it would cook faster.
- My husband’s grandma said we should use WD-40 on your knees, it would loosen them up
- While in the middle of a hot flash, don’t fall for it if someone says feel my back
- When someone asks you to smell the milk, don’t
- Someone told my mom that soaking my brothers feet in bleach would stop them from smelling so badly from hours and hours of cowboy boot wearing – it did not, but it burned the &%$# out of his feet
- When I was little, my mom told me not to swallow watermelon seeds because I would grow one and everyone would think I was having a baby
- My dad told me that if it doesn’t have meat, it’s a snack – this is advice I can get onboard with, but its probably not the best for my waistline.
Now, there is also advice that isn’t so fun loving but comes from well-meaning people (sometimes even strangers) that have absolutely no clue about your life, what you are going through or your circumstances. This advice is laced with clichés that promise a sunnier tomorrow, all given in your “best interest” but as a person with a disability and chronic illness, sometimes this unsolicited advice from strangers rubs me the wrong way. Have you tried X, Y, Z? My best friends’ sister’s cousin has MS and she goes to yoga with elephants and it has helped her immensely. Strangers always know someone who has healed themselves from your disease by going vegan, by skydiving, by reading such and such article, taking this specialty supplement, etc. Why is it that strangers ignore the idea that they shouldn’t interfere with the very personal choices of others regarding their specific health needs? Sometimes this type of advice (especially when you are working hard to manage your chronic illness) is exhausting and takes an emotional toll. Wouldn’t it be nice instead for these people to ask what can they do to help you or support you?
I can’t speak for all chronic illnesses, but Multiple Sclerosis is a highly individualized disease hence the nickname, The “Snowflake Disease”. You could have 200 people in a room and each one of us would have different symptoms, different disabilities and different triggers. It affects everyone differently and there isn’t a one size fits all health care strategy. In my research and after living with the disease for 15 + years, I have begun to recognize the toll stress, physical activity and nutrition plays on my symptoms so those are areas that I have control over and am working on. The problem as I see it is that these people giving advice aren’t necessarily imparting great wisdom, what they are doing is telling me how to live my life – to what THEY think MY life should look like. It’s uncomfortable and its frustrating. I need to also say that there are times I may be looking for advice or suggestions, but usually I will ask and its likely that I’m not going to ask a stranger or someone I don’t know well. I need to clarify that I do welcome advice from my close friends and family though, so please know that I’m not talking about you all! I am talking about strangers or acquaintances who know nothing of my life or my challenges.
You are probably thinking that yes, it sounds annoying, but they are just trying to help what’s the big deal? I get that they are trying to help and most of the time, I can take it for what it is and let it in one ear and out the other but how I sometimes receive it is that I’m not trying hard enough, that I am giving up, that I am lazy and that they are judging me. Whether or not that is how it is intended, that’s how I hear it. That’s on me, not the other person, but I just want to scream that I am doing my best. Don’t you know if I could wish this away, I would? I’m trying and I am certainly not taking the easy way out or being lazy. That’s the end of my rant for today.
Here are a few other words of wisdom that I question at times because I feel like they ignore this thing called real life.
Just think positive – While this sounds good and I consider myself a positive thinker, this advice implies that my illness is a mindset that I can think my way out of. Yes, your thoughts define your reality and yes, how I think has a huge impact on my perception (which is also my reality). I know that feeling sorry for myself and complaining doesn’t help but being positive doesn’t change the fact that I have MS and it isn’t going anywhere. At times I struggle, that’s life and I can’t be up and positive all the time – it’s life and I’m human. So, I allow myself the space to be down for a bit, but then I know that I need to turn it around and change my attitude because I am keenly aware that my thoughts become my reality.
Never give up – Sometimes giving up is the right thing to do. If I change my mind and realize something isn’t working for me, I get off it, give it up and move onto something else that suits my life better. I don’t look at it as giving up, I look at it as moving forward.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all – This might have worked for Thumper but it’s a toughie for me at times. Sometimes we need to say things that aren’t very nice and sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for someone. We can be thoughtful with our words but be willing to have the hard conversation when it’s necessary, that’s how we grow. I think it’s perfectly fine and something we should be teaching our kids too.
It’s the thought that counts – Our thoughts don’t make us who we are, our actions do. In many situations in life, it’s not the thought that counts, it’s the action. Thinking about or meaning to do something isn’t the same—and doesn’t count for nearly as much—as actually doing it. My intentions, thoughts, and good wishes count for something, but my choices are what makes me who I am.
Failure is not an option – that’s ridiculous, of course it is! Failure’s always an option and it’s good to know that if you fail, you’ll be fine. The sun will still rise tomorrow. Learning from my failures is growth to me so I’m ok with failing. In fact, I do it a lot!
And the last piece of advice that makes me a bit crazy…..
Just get over it – If it were as simple as just getting over it, wouldn’t we all have done that by now? No one likes feeling depressed, ill or pissed off about something. For some people, it becomes a familiar place to be, and that’s when it can become a problem, but that too is part of the journey. Getting over it requires a lot more work than just waking up and saying today I’m over it. Saying this minimizes people, especially when they are dealing with forces beyond their control or their personal awareness.
So, remember, you don’t have to listen to every tip or piece of advice someone gives you, no matter their expertise, age or status. What advice have you received that you decided to ignore?
I can’t leave you without a yummy recipe. I want to preface the recipe with the fact that I don’t usually use canned soup for anything (remember my husband and I are following the 80/20 rule meaning 80% of the time we eat clean, low carb and extremely healthy, but 20% of the time, we can eat without worrying about anything, this was part of the 20%). Desperate times call for desperate measures. I was exhausted and wanted to whip something up quick and this recipe fit the bill not to mention it was super satisfying! I also used my Instant Pot to cook the chicken for shredding, which worked out perfectly. Thanks to Taste of Home for all their amazing recipes! https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken-tortilla-bake/
Chicken Tortilla Bake
An easy casserole for busy work nights, plus it warms up well for lunch tomorrow
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chiles
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 small onion, finely chopped
12 corn tortillas, warmed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream and green onions, optional)
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, chiles, broth, soups and onion; set aside. Layer half of the tortillas in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish, cutting to fit pan if desired. Top with half of the chicken mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat layers.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through. Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked casserole. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°. If desired, serve with sour cream and green onions.