When You Can't Take Your Own Advice

I am often asked for advice by loved ones; whether it’s concerning bickering besties, boy drama, or some minor incident. In most cases I am well-equipped with a quick response or a listening ear. That’s just my personality; I love to help. I suppose that’s why I’m depriving myself of sleep in graduate school to become a counselor.

Though it can be effortless at times to speak hope into the lives of others, I find that it can be difficult to do the same for myself. No self-pep talk will help. No “Happy” song will do. Encouraging yourself proves not to be an easy task.

So what happens when you can’t take the same advice that you give? Is it all hoopla? Some may argue that it’s not practicing what you preach, but I have a different perspective.

One word pops into my head: community. We were never created to go through life alone. We just can’t do it. Great music throughout the ages extol the virtues of two, as well as remind us that “one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

My sister Jessie said it best:

“No matter how introverted and independent we are, God made us long for meaningful relationships with each other. That’s why we can’t do everything on our own. We need help from time to time. We’re freakin’ human.”

Even the strongest of people need someone to confide in. For years I have prided myself in being the one people turn to when in need of a good venting session or piece of advice. I would often pour out so much of myself to those who are distraught and emotionally drained that I neglected to in turn ask someone to pour into me.

In this season of my life, I’m learning about vulnerability. I no longer see it as a sign of weakness and what I thought was always the inevitable: pain. Instead it is taking a brave leap of faith in revealing your all to someone – the good, the bad, the ugly – and believing that they will still love you in spite of the unkept parts, as my dad would call them.

I once heard a pastor explain that being vulnerable is saying, “This is me,” and “This is me for you.” And though it may leave you open to emotional harm, the beauty of the human spirit can learn to trust again.

So to all of my fellow strong towers out there, be sure to open yourselves up to the ones brave enough to show their all to you (and of course make sure they’re worthy of your secrets). You have to.You need to.

Our magic wands may wave away our best friend’s problems, but the immunity toward your own advice is a sign of something deeper. Just as Jessie said, it’s a longing for deep meaningful relationship. We may put up seemingly strong fronts; but every now and then, we need someone to tell us that things are going to be okay.

Be brave and be open. Even heroes need saving.

—Tara Pook