‘Throw-away’ wisdom

I call it ‘throw-away wisdom,’ and it is dangerous.

You’ll recognise this kind of wisdom: “have more confidence,” “ love conquers all,” “shoot for the stars,” “believe in yourself.”

There is every chance that my public flagellation of these examples of monotonous maxims will highlight me as a curmudgeonly old git, but let me finish.

I’m not opposed to positivity; not all. I would argue that the foundations of my life are built more upon the ideas of a glass half full, than empty.  What I object to, and ask those dishing out throw-away wisdom to consider, are the potential pitfalls.

“How can positive messages be harmful?” I hear you scream at your screen as you ‘unlike’ anything you may have ‘liked’ on my FB feed in the past.

Consider this as one example:  When a bright-eyed fledgling student walks into a Martial arts school for the first time they are met with an uncomfortable dichotomy: they are both inspired by the black belt that their teacher is wearing, yet simultaneously unable to comprehend or relate to a goal yet still so far away. It is just too removed from their current frame of reference for them to connect. For many it is disheartening.

As another example, for someone with either depression or anger so rooted in their psyche that it refuses to relent, suggesting they “be positive” only compounds the problem.  Now they are angry, depressed and a failure for not being able to wander around with the sticky grin of a Pollyanna all day long.

So what to do? Replace positive messages with cynical realism or worse, apathy?

No. The answer, I believe is to titrate; that is, to offer small achievable pieces of advice or help that are relevant to the cause and that are measured against the desired outcome.

Let’s see how this might play out: someone within your sphere of influence is struggling. You have metaphorically walked a mile in this person’s shoes and would like to help. Life is going well for you and you think you could offer some advice.

Rather than offer them pointless maxims, show them how your journey and struggles have been similar. Show them that although you are living lives of very different perspectives NOW, it was not always the case. Then show them some actual truthful and straightforward actions that they can implement and succeed with instantly (within 24 hours).

Once they have achieved this minute milestone, help them recognise and enjoy it; then set another.

With this simple process, you will have started your friend on a journey of confidence development, one which they can take and run to whatever heights they choose.

Now isn’t this a little more practical than sending them a quote on Social Media?

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