Advice Overload: 3 Ways to Cope

Santa Rosa therapist Patty Bechtold shares 3 ways to cope with advice overload at wiselifetherapy.com

Advice Overload: 3 Ways to Cope. Updated 12/31/21

Hello and Happy New Year! I came back to work today and couldn’t help but notice that the advice machine is in full swing as it usually is in January.

Yes, advice overload has arrived, yet again.

You probably know how advice overload goes: a constant stream of advice aimed at women.

Basically, the advice is geared to telling you how you can do better at all sorts of things: communicating, being successful, getting organized, having your best year ever, getting in shape, eating well, making decisions and on it goes.

It’s a lot to take in and advice overload can absolutely take a toll. Think: overwhelm, anxiety, self-doubt, even depression. And while the advice is usually offered with the best of intentions, your experience of it may be negative.

In fact, words meant to help can actually harm.

Even well meaning advice can take a toll, when it produces what I think of as “gotcha” moments.

They tend to show up after taking in advice, either directly or indirectly. You may never have had a name for it, but you’re probably familiar with that sense of spiraling down, the knot in your stomach, that sinking sensation.

Suddenly you’ve discovered something about yourself or your life that you now perceive to be a problem. And without being aware of it, those experiences of and reaction to advice overload build up over time.

Over time, advice overload can begin to erode your quiet wisdom.

This is the wisdom that has always existed within you. Your trust in that wisdom starts to fade in the midst of a world that wants to advise you.

Like an eroding river bank, your contours begin to change, and it gets harder to connect with that quiet wisdom.

Whenever I think about this I vividly remember my first professor and my first class in grad school: Intro to Counseling. Dr. Porter gently taught us to pull back from advice giving, to understand how it often has an opposite effect of what we’re intending.

Rather than helping people move forward, too much advice often shuts them down, leaving self-doubt and distress in its wake.

Unfortunately, we’re just a click away from all manner of advice these days.

And you don’t even have to seek it out. Nowadays it shows up unsolicited and it’s hard not to look! I’m certainly not immune to it; I know how challenging it is to tune out the advice.

But that’s what I want for you, for all of us: to move beyond advice overload, climb to higher ground, and open up to the deeper voice within.

3 ways to cope with advice overload:

  1. Think about these five words: I don’t have to know. Repeat them often, and revisit the blog I wrote about this last summer. Carve out time for moments of blissful not knowing during your day.
  2. Similarly, remember that you are enough and you know enough. Repeat as often as needed. Put aside the urgency of a world that tells you to be or do or know more right now. Step into your innate enoughness and claim that you get to choose your own timeline.
  3. Consider the clean slate metaphor of a new year, that this is a feeling you might want to hang on to. Often, during the holidays, our lives and homes get filled to the brim. And as fun as that may be, most of us love the sense of spaciousness we experience when all the extra stuff gets cleared out. Imagine how wonderful it could be to simply be with that for awhile, internally and externally.

Remember: you already know so much about how to live your life.

So let’s all look away from the advice and listen deeply this year. Let’s remember to trust that wise and soulful voice within.

*****

Patty Bechtold

Patty Bechtold

Welcome. I'm a Santa Rosa therapist and life coach, and I help women who feel like something’s missing in their lives or themselves. I specialize in self-esteem, anxiety, depression, grief, life transition, and women's groups. On this blog I write about different approaches to help you find your way back to your deepest wisdom. Thank you for being here.