The Worst Advice
Sometimes it is only recognized in hindsight, but I believe we can all recall the worst advice we were ever given.
Often it is offered when we are not even seeking it. Perhaps you have heard the same awful lecture repeatedly- some sort of distorted limiting belief that has been passed on through generations of cultural conditioning.
I can recall about a year ago, the moment that I heard the worst advice, not for the first time, but it was in that specific moment, I heard for the first time the absurdity of the statement. I had been in a toxic environment for a very long time. It never ceases to amaze me how we as humans adapt- for better or for worse. In my case I became desensitized from certain levels of toxicity, including behaviors, practices, and conduct. In my mind, I was coping well, maintaining my integrity and protecting myself from the vile, yet common daily occurrences.
I believe it is important to note that just because something is common, does not indicate that it is normal- or acceptable- or should be tolerated. It is also important to note that when we are chronically stressed, we are in fact, not coping well at all, despite what we think. Both are very important and personal life lessons of mine.
Things had progressed so badly that I could no longer silence my inner alarm. I could not ignore that my moral compass was critically misaligned with my surroundings, and as a result of constant exposure to an increasingly unhealthy environment, my own health was failing. Then came the tipping point. On an incomprehensible bad day, I was having a conversation with a 'friend'. I believed this person was grounded, and sometimes we served as each other’s sounding board in effort to maintain our sanity. To this day, I can clearly remember those words, and the nausea I felt wash over me immediately after they were uttered. "Sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do."
I was in a scene of The Walking Dead. You know, where you are always trying to keep yourself alive, and you finally think you have found a safe space, and you lock yourself in with your ally so you can catch your breath. But then they turn around and you realize they are a zombie too, and they don't even know it. There was only one thing I could do. Slowly back out, take a different direction- alone- and never look back.
Took me long enough.
But that is how life works, right? The lesson repeats itself until you learn, and it gets worse each time it comes around. I know with certainty, that I needed the situation to get as bad as it did for me to finally take action, which was for my greatest good. This was the catalyst for change- from surviving to thriving. I am grateful for my ability to stand in my power, and I am thankful for being given the worst advice ever- to simply affirm I was making the right choice. Finally.
I sat quietly afterwards to really dissect those words. I recognized I had heard them far too often when I was young- mostly from adults. Perhaps that was why I was so emotionally charged when they resurfaced again, from a peer. But honestly, is this the advice we should be giving young people? It is the exact statement that instills the belief "I do not matter". It is a great way to teach children to give into peer pressure and abandon their personal values. As a parent, would you accept "Sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do" as an explanation for why your child got into a car with someone who had been drinking, or tried drugs, or whatever- even though they did not want to? Of course not. It is disempowering and nonsensical. And sadly, it is far too commonly said.
But remember, just because something is common...
What's the worst advice you've been given?