I am 57 years old. I wear that age as a badge of honor, for in those years I have overcome many adversities. Unfortunately, many of those problems were caused by my poor judgment, ignorance and ill-advised decisions. Regardless, what has helped me grow over the years is well-timed and sage advice.
Those who know me well are aware of how much I journal my daily reflections. I have to do this or I immediately forget the benefits of what people and God have said to me. Monthly and annually, I review my journals to glean the truths that have shaped my life.
Recently, I completed another journal and I took two days to go back through all of them to see if I could discern the best advice I have ever received. Though there were many, many good things, I actually had ten pieces of advice that stood out to me. As a friend said to me last night (after reading all ten of these on Facebook) he can see every one of them in my life.
That really encourages me to know that.
None of these piece of advice comes before I was 20. Why? Because for whatever reason, during those formative years I decided I knew what was best for my life. This was not good. We need the wisdom of others more than we know. If you’re listening, you can hear the truths of the Creator echoing off the brains of your loved ones and mentors.
Top Ten Advice I Ever Received
#10: (From Ed Smith, my mentor in TPM)
“If everyone over a certain period of time, seems to be treating you with the same negative reaction, remember that You are the common denominator. Healthy people will figure out what the connection is and make the necessary changes.”
#9: (From Bob Falconer, who showed me throughout life that growing up a child of an alcoholic doesn’t have to define who you are):
“No one chooses suffering. But we do choose misery. The person who learns this difference cannot and will not be defeated.”
#8: (from Dr. Bill Glasser, mentor, professor, genius and writer.)
“No matter what a person is saying to you, what emotion they are showing, what action they are taking, all it is really is, is INFORMATION. If you can discern what their words, actions and emotions are saying, you can detach from the defensiveness we enter from inferring more meaning than they are communicating.”
#7: (from Bob Willoughby, professor and one who gave me my first professional position working with him)
“You are allowed to be angry; as much as you like. You’re not allowed to hurt others with your anger. Be as angry as you want for as long as you like, but remember there is a shelf life to anger. As soon as it gets old, if you don’t deal with it properly, it can become rage, revenge or resentment. And if you won’t let yourself show anger or talk about it, anger always becomes depression. Depression is anger plus either fear, hopelessness or shame”
#6: (Also from Bill Glasser)
“Nothing anyone else does is your responsibility. Nothing you do is someone else’s responsibility. If you are taking responsibility for their actions or if you are blaming someone else for your actions, then you will never be completely healthy.”
#5: (Another gem from the incomparable Ed Smith):
“Every emotion you are feeling comes from something you believe. No one else forced that emotion upon you, no matter what they did. The most helpful action we can take on behalf of ourselves is to ask the question, “What does this emotion tell me about what I believe?”
#4: (The last of the Bill Glasser advice. To get the most out of Bill, read his classic “Choice Theory”. It will blow your mind and change your life).
“In every relationship, you have more choices than you are willing to admit. You can leave the relationship if you want to. You can stay in the relationship if you want to. It is not that we don’t have choices, but sometimes we don’t like the choices we have. No situation is ever hopeless…there is always a best choice we can make; even if we don’t like the best choice.”
#3: (Yep, Ed Smith again)
“Nothing anyone has ever done to you in the past is currently messing you up. It is what you believe about what they did to you that changes your life. If you can get rid of the idea that someone else is to blame for your problems, you will, at that moment stop being a victim. And when you can get rid of the false beliefs which began when they hurt you, that’s when you truly become free and mature.”
#2: (from the Sage John Bevere)
“As soon as you realize you are carrying resentment toward anyone, let it go. Resentment is an acid that eats away at the soul. Even if you are unwilling yet to forgive them, let go of the resentment and you will prevent a thousand other problems. And the earlier you let go of resentment, the easier it is.”
The final piece of advice is one I have lived by for many years. It was spoken by a woman who started two colleges in England, traveled the world as an itinerant preacher and teacher and accurately heard God’s voice. She epitomized grace and truth to me. That’s why I was so shocked when after we had lunch one day she answered a simple question I asked with this advice:
“God isn’t into rules like most people think God is. Just do the next thing the Spirit of God shows you and you’ll be fine.”
These are the best advice I have received so far in my life. I certainly hope there are more.