Can we be honest? Some people give terrible advice! Unfortunately, all of us are guilty of passing along some terrible advice in the form of cliches.
Several months back, I wrote an article called, Three TERRIBLE Pieces of Advice People Keep Sharing! …and better advice you should actually listen to. When I started writing that post, I actually had five different pieces of bad advice; the post simply became too long.
So think of this post as an extension of that post. Here was the introduction to that post:
Most cliche advice falls into one of three categories:
- It’s a cliche because it’s true! (i.e. “Always consider the source!”)
- It’s a cliche because it tells us what we want to hear! (i.e. “Follow your dreams!”)
- It’s a cliche because it’s catchy! (i.e. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”)
The problem is that far too few people stop and consider the advice they’re offering or receiving. One of the reasons we offer bad cliche advice is that we know how we’ve applied certain advice, and things worked out well for us. However, what we don’t know is how other people are going to personalize or apply that same advice. While certain words may have encouraged wise action on your part, it may lead others to utter foolishness.”
Here are two more cliches which are TERRIBLE advice to give someone:
TWO PIECES OF TERRIBLE ADVICE
#1 | Don’t Worry About What Other People Think About You
We live in an unbelievably judgmental society. We’re entertained by talent shows where people from England berate people over their lack of singing, dancing, or other strange skills. We watch beauty competitions where people walk over to other people with a sharpie and circle their imperfections. A simple trip to any grocery store and you’ll see a series of tabloid headlines such as, “Best and Worst Celebrity Beach Bods!” or “You’ll Never Guess Which Celeb Let Themselves Go.”
It’s no surprise we look at each other with a critical eye.
About ten years ago, I recorded a goofy song for my own amusement and posted it on a message board I was a part of for some friends. They thought it was pretty funny. A day or two later, I got an email from a complete stranger that read something like this:
My name is ________. We don’t know each other, but I heard the song you posted the other day. I’ve been watching a lot of American Idol recently, and I’ve been really inspired by Simon Cowell. With that in mind I just wanted to tell you that you can’t sing. Maybe you could do like a coffee shop, but that’s about it.
I hope this was helpful!
I’m not joking. A complete stranger sent me an email criticizing my singing on a OBVIOUSLY goofy song, and he said he did so because of Simon Cowell.
All of us are bombarded by so much criticism that we have to come up with some sort of defense mechanism, which is to try not to care. Unfortunately, that is TERRIBLE advice.
Don’t worry about what other people think about you.
This one is actually pretty close to good advice. The problem isn’t so much the phrase itself as it is what people mean when they say it. If people actually meant, “Don’t WORRY about what other people think about you,” that’s probably a good message. But that has nothing to do with other people’s opinions, and it has everything to do with what Jesus taught about worry.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
If someone is making a statement about worry when they repeat this cliche, I can agree with you. However, I believe most people repeat this cliche and they mean something totally different.
Don’t CARE what other people think about you or your actions.
Once again, this is also close to being good advice but, as stated, this is very BAD advice.
Here’s the problem: every single one of us needs people who can speak truth into our lives. We need people with an open invitation to point out our blind spots. I suspect some of the least pleasant and most dysfunctional people you know are also some of the most defensive. They don’t care what anyone thinks, and they don’t want your opinions or advice. However, they may want you to bail them out of trouble.
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
On the flip side, you can’t internalize the criticisms of everyone, or your worth would fluctuate based on everyone’s opinions. If you need evidence that caring about EVERYONE’S opinion is blatantly foolish, visit any internet comment section. There are enormous numbers of people who are unbelievably critical and mean spirited in how they talk to or about other human beings. Honestly, you can pretty easily write off some of this behavior as that of either a JERK or someone with an utter LACK OF SOCIAL SKILLS.
I’m fairly confident the guy who criticized my singing online simply lacked social skills; it didn’t really occur to him that he was being rude.
Don’t concern yourself with the opinions of people who don’t love you.
Do strongly consider the opinions of wise people who love you.
All of us need wise people speaking truth into our lives. All of us need people who love us pointing out our blindspots and faults. Find a handful of people in your life that you trust to whom you give permission to speak truth into your life…and TRUST their praise and criticisms.
Don’t trust the PRAISE or CRITICISM of EVERYONE!
Do trust the PRAISE & CRITICISM of YOUR FEW!
#2 | What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Every single one of us have faced extremely painful things in our lives.
Certainly some lives have been harder than others. Some lives are more privileged than others. But when you live in a world cursed by sin, you have experienced the pain of this world. You can’t ignore it.
So, people have tried to come up with filters by which to interpret the pain of their life. One of those mechanisms is this cliche:
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Of all of the cliches I’ve written about, I feel like this is the most obviously dubious. There might be some hardened people that actually live like this, but most people I know have countless things in their lives which made them much weaker.
Let’s take inventory…
Growing up, we all learned a very simple rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me.
If you’re reading this, you’re old enough to know that that is one of the stupidest things children are ever taught. Broken bones heal, but hurtful words hurt our souls.
We all know that words DO hurt us. In fact, you can almost certainly remember several things which people said to you that created an insecurity in your life. A bully, a friend, a parent…someone said something to you that hurt you in your core. Sometimes those hurtful words damage you on the inside for decades. They may define your identity in the worst way possible.
- Waste of time
I could keep going and going, but you know the words someone said to you. Those words didn’t make you stronger, they created insecurities.
Normally, when someone uses this cliche they’re talking about negative things making us stronger, but if the statement is true, then it applies to theoretical positives.
By definition, if a kid has been spoiled, they have not been made stronger. They have been spoiled. Through the parents attempts to buy love, or inability to say “No,” or enabling bad behavior, their child has become spoiled. This is not a positive. It did not make their kids stronger. A character flaw was created which they now need to overcome.
As a child of divorce, I would never claim that divorce generically made me stronger. Going through my parents divorce BROKE me. It confused me. It left me with incredible deficiencies in my life which have consequences to this day.
I could go on and on and on. And you could tell your own story of either words or experiences which shaped who you are in a negative way.
Most things CAN make us weaker.
- Strength doesn’t come from the CIRCUMSTANCE.
- Strength comes from our RESPONSE TO THE CIRCUMSTANCE!
The painful experiences in your life don’t make you stronger by default, but they can be incredible stories of redemption.
Don’t be a victim of your circumstances!
Whatever doesn’t kill you CAN make you STRONGER or WEAKER, depending on how you respond. If you face something traumatic, you may go through wild swings between weakness and strength.
We can’t control all of the circumstances we face in life, but we can control how we respond!