Growing up, I’d often ask my mom for advice on various topics such as friendships, or how to handle certain dilemmas I encountered. Depending on the situation, she would share her sage motherly wisdom. And other times she would listen carefully and respond, “You already have the answer.”
To my dismay, this would be her advice…despite the fact that I poured my heart out to her. A little dramatic, I know, but I digress. Yes, she heard me and I am confident that she felt my pain every time. In some instances, I’m certain that she would have gladly transferred my pain onto herself. However, I didn’t understand why she wasn’t helping me, which was frustrating. I remember wanting to say to my mom, “If I had the answers, I wouldn’t need advice!” Sounds pretty logical, right?
What I know now that I didn’t know then is that my mom was preparing me for life.
Recently, I have spoken to two separate “experts” about a current situation that I’m managing. As I spoke to each of them, I quickly realized that I was the expert because the matter at hand concerns me. Not to discredit them, but I am most familiar with the so-called issue. I have all of the facts preceding this moment; I know what I have tried, and am willing to try to resolve the matter. At the end of the day, it will be my action(s) or inaction that will ultimately move the ball down the field.
Often times when we’re seeking advice, we really want to be affirmed. Sometimes we just want to vent and rant. We want to feel righteous and justified in the presence of another. We want someone to witness our pain or suffering and agree with us. Or console us. In reality, we know that the other person is powerless.
Besides offering a few well-meaning platitudes, there is nothing that the other person can “do.” Rather, another person can “be” a sounding board, a resource, or a confidant. But what more can another person literally do to affect meaningful change in another persons life?
Sadly, very little.
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t seek advice from family and friends. Or, seek the assistance from qualified experts as needed. I think it’s healthy to gain a different perspective. However, new ideas, or outlooks are only as effective as the other persons willingness or ability to implement them. Sometimes we have to be willing to change, versus expecting other people, or circumstances to change because we think that they should.
Which brings me back to my mom’s life lesson of “you already have the answers.” My mom was empowering me to be an independent thinker. To know that she is there for me, but not to rely on her, (or anyone else), to tell me what to do-when I already know or have an idea about what needs to be done. To learn how to become still and become clear about the entire issue. And most of all, my mom taught me how to trust myself. Many times we reach out to experts because we are second guessing ourselves. Sometimes a secondary, or tertiary view point is necessary, and sometimes it isn’t.
There will be times that you need to know that while you may not be an expert on some things, you are the expert as it relates to you and what you need. No one has this thing called life fully figured out. Everyone has an area of their life that needs work. So know that you’re in good company.
Learn to trust yourself as much as you are inclined to trust the opinions, perspectives, and even qualifications of others.