Wacky advice

Recco, Giuseppe - Still-life with the Five Sen...
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What’s the wackiest advice you’ve ever received?

This question has caused me to think long and hard today.

I think “wacky” just means something that, initially, you’d dismiss because it seems “off the wall” to you.  This, of course, is not because of the advice itself, it’s because of you.  You think it’s off the wall because you have no frame of reference within which to interpret the point of view.    The advice is not within your habitual way of thinking — your paradigm — and so you don’t know what to do with it.  You label it, “Wacky.”

But sometimes, counter-intuitive advice is the most valuable — it’s EXACTLY what you should do.  If everything you know how to do has been ineffective in the situation, then you need to do what you wouldn’t ordinarily do.  The solution is going to be something that you don’t know.  And yet, we’re unwilling to let go of our favorite ideas and solutions.  Perhaps it’s because these ideas come from authoritative sources — parents, role models, history, culture.

I give wacky advice all the time — that is, my message often flies in the face of conventional and cultural “wisdom.”  In the Feldenkrais Method, we say wacky stuff all the time — stuff like, “Less is more.  Do less, feel more.  Find your comfort zone.  Hurting you doesn’t help you.  Make your “stronger” side match the side you perceive as “weaker.”  Rest before you feel exhausted.  Resist the urge to push through the obstacle.”  Stuff like that.  And yet — in the right time and place, it’s exactly the right course of action.  Free of ambition and striving, just for a few moments,  you can figure a lot out for yourself.

When I was training to be a teacher of this Method, I was hearing this wacky advice all the time — and I took it to heart.  Best thing I’ve ever done.  In contrast, I think of very sensible advice received from people who had my best interests at heart.  “Get your teaching certificate.  You’ll always have it to fall back on.”  “If you’re not giving 100% in your relationships, you are not committed.”  “You should get on the tenure track.  It’s the only way to have a future.”  I followed all of that advice, and it worked, to an extent, for awhile. And then, my profound unhappiness was the indicator that soon there would be hell to pay.  Like any normal person, I ignored these emotional and physical cues.

When I “came to my senses,” I started listening to my own intuition, and I started listening to a lot more wacky advice.  A big part of my work is to teach people to become self-referenced, and to trust their own internal sense of authority.  Without your own sense to ground you, the advice of others is worthless.

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