For a long time, I gave advice for a living.
It was a total accident. An established writer asked me to co-write a story with her for Playboy, that story ended up becoming a big-ish deal and suddenly I was on TV telling people how to handle their sex, dating, work and relationship lives.
[AN IMPORTANT ASIDE: I ABSOLUTELY HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE SAY THINGS LIKE, “AND THEN THIS JUST HAPPENED” WHEN IT’S SOMETHING THEY CLEARLY WORKED SO HARD FOR. I’M TELLING THE TRUTH THAT THIS TV THING JUST HAPPENED. AND I AM ALSO TELLING THE TRUTH THAT I HAVE TRIED AND TRIED AND TRIED FOR MANY THINGS THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. ANYWAY, MOVING ON…]
I think I gave pretty good advice. After a good decade of living in the body of an adult but behaving like an adolescent, I had just gotten into recovery and so I told people everything I was learning—about how fear is the biggest issue we all have and how it doesn’t usually look like fear but like anxiety, depression, avoidance, even nausea, about how we’re all so scared of our feelings that we make up stories that only make us feel worse in order to avoid them, about all sorts of things. But still, I would think, I have a literary writing degree and I only have that because it sounded like the easiest major I could think of! What business did I have giving advice professionally?
I know more now. I’m sober over a decade-and-a-half. I’m a certified coach. I help people with their lives. I still don’t know a lot. But I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve learned since I first started giving advice on TV. I didn’t come up with the ideas behind all of this on my own; most of this I heard someone much wiser than me say and then experienced it firsthand so I realized it was true. A lot of it I haven’t followed. But anyway here it is:
If you say you don’t like his shoes, her laugh, the fact that he texts emoticons or her friends, you just don’t like him or her and are trying to come up with a justification because there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why you don’t. But you don’t need a reason. Move on!
If you keep dating the same person with a different face, your subconscious is trying to teach you a lesson which you are still struggling to learn.
Using past experiences to try to predict future events is as illogical as asking a bunch of sugar packets who killed JFK.
If you’re not hearing from the person you’re dating and are wondering if life is worth living, what you’re experiencing has nothing to do with the person you’re dating. When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.
The universe is almost always on a different time table than we’d like it to be. Try your best to enjoy where you are and not attempt to force the universe to put you on a different one.
When you’re pointing a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you. In other words, there’s a decent chance that you also do whatever drives you the most crazy about other people.
Your feelings will change. Don’t act on them, one day at a time, and see how you feel tomorrow.
Most of us are re-creating our family of origin relationships and trying to do them right. A lot of us are failing. If your relationship sucks, you can get out—no matter how impossible it seems.
If you’re constantly feeling like you don’t measure up and are always worried your partner is going to change their mind about you, your relationship may suck.
Love feels amazing but it’s not the other person who makes us feel a certain way. The other person just gives us permission and we’re giving them all the credit. These feelings were always within us.
Oxytocin can be dangerous.
When someone you work for asks you to do something you think may not be possible, say, “Absolutely” and figure out how later.
Lose every fight you can.
Don’t explain to your boss why you screwed up. Just say you get it and learn from whatever happened.
No one has to earn your respect. Respect everyone and it’s so much easier.
If you’re in a creative field where you are reviewed by strangers, ignore the trolls—unless your work is ongoing (say, a podcast as opposed to, say, a book). Then consider the fact that their feedback might be helpful and if it makes sense, apply it.
All friendships are successful. Some are just shorter than others.