Wednesday 2 April 2014

Unhelpful Advice 2

Just add sugar

“Be spontaneous, live in the moment, be yourself, be positive and confident.” It assumes a world where there are no life-changing events, no influential people, no social hierarchies, no social institutions, no politics, no wars, no recessions, not even rich and poor.

When life sends lemons, make lemonade!
(Unless life also sends you sugar and water, your lemonade is gonna suck.)
Stop validating yourself according to other’s reactions to you. (Experiments show that people judge us according to other’s reactions.)

Know this and be okay with it: Not everyone is going to like you.

No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt But if they’ve told everybody else that you’re inferior you'd better move to a town where nobody knows you.)

Dream big and you’ll get to the Olympics. (BBC Breakfast You probably have to run fast as well.)
Lower your sights. (But you told me to dream big!)

Make doing the right thing a habit and it won't be difficult. (As pundits have been saying since 500BC with patchy results.)
Character is simply habit long continued. (Plutarch)

My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
(Louis Pasteur He had a few science degrees as well.)

Don't Compare! You'll Never be Happy with Your Life.
( How do you know they're doing better than me? And why don't you want me to know?)

Happiness comes from knowing we are The One. We are the Big Love of our Lives.

All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. (Dame Julian of Norwich)

All of us are the wretched puppets of our unconscious selves. (Emil Coué)

If you don’t think about it, it will go away. (Applied to any problem in the 50s. Probably means "Don't expect anybody to help you.")

If you really love someone you’ll let them go. (Somehow this lets them off the hook. They aren't abandoning you, you are "letting them go".)

I am responsible for everything that happens to me.
(Including all the bad things that really are somebody else's fault. But perhaps it just means: "I’m not as powerless as I think I am.")

A teacher told us not to have romantic fantasies because no human being could ever live up to them and we’d only be disappointed. (But maybe she meant “don’t live entirely in a fantasy world”.)

It’s the things you don’t do that you regret! (Shouldn't you regret being an alcoholic, a bully or a thief? And can't you think of some undone deeds you are sooooo glad you never did?)

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate. (George Burns)

Don’t feed the troll. (It’s just the old “ignore bullies”. And responding, naming and shaming seems to be working much better.)

Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinion about events. (Epictetus, and Pollyanna)
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. (What if you’re caught up in a war or a famine, get radiation poisoning, are trafficked for prostitution or beaten by your husband, get laid off in a recession, or experience racial abuse?)

Stop chasing happiness. Where you are right now is precisely what is right for your life.
Happiness comes only to those who don't actively chase it.
( Am I being inactive enough?)
You’ll meet someone when you aren't looking. (So my strategy for looking for someone is to not look for them? But that would mean I was looking for them.)
Go out and enjoy life, have fun. Love will come when you're ready, not because you “need” someone. Stop thinking about it! (@emmaziff How long should I wait, Emma?)
Happiness isn't something you experience, it's something you remember. (Oscar Levant)
You date to get to know yourself. (But I didn't want self-knowledge.)

Unhappy people get to enjoy being lonely and unhappy – they’re lonely and unhappy because they can’t let go of it. (The 2013 version of “you’re in a rut of self-pity”, as agony aunts used to say.)

You’ll be much stronger on your own. (But you’ll be lonely, because all your friends will pair off. And nobody ever said that to Orpheus, or Romeo, or…)

Practice makes perfect. (But only if you have the talent – or some instructions to follow.)

Somewhere between science and superstition lies the truth. (This is logical fallacy No. 94.)

Take a different route to work.
(There’s an app for it now! Called something like getmelost.)

Start a conversation with “I’m thinking of buying a radio.” (Dorothy Parker made fun of this one. It's still doing the rounds.)

You shouldn’t expect anybody else to “complete you”. You should take responsibility for your own happiness. (Popular in the 80s – though people paired off just the same. )

Violence never solved anything. If you want to take revenge, first dig two graves. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Don’t take revenge – you’ll only hurt yourself. (Why are you telling me all this, "Old Arabic proverb"?)

You learn from your mistakes! (What if you circulate a private email at work and get the sack? You learn not to do that, but now you’re unemployed. What if you spend the rest of your life as a shelf-filler?)

They say the worst isn't so bad when it finally happens. (They say. It may be worse.)

Never turn down something through fear – fear is only ever in the mind. (Terence Stamp Many performers have taken on a role they’re unsuited for, and bombed.)

They only tease you because they like you! They’re laughing with you!
(See An Intergroup Investigation of Disparaging Humor, Jessica R. Abrams

Personality is more important than looks. (Many psychological studies have shows that attractive people are rated as kinder and cleverer. And they get better jobs.)

The proposition that good-looking people benefit socially from their physical attractiveness has been investigated for some 20 years, beginning with the classic article by Dion, Berscheid, and Walster (1972). Aronson (1972) elucidated what has come to be known as the physical attractiveness stereotype: "We like beautiful and handsome people better than homely people, and we attribute all kinds of good characteristics to them". In the years since, there have been numerous studies that one way or another test this what-is-beautiful-is-good phenomenon. Cash (1981), for example, lists about 500 articles in a bibliography – and the vast majority of them have supported its [conclusions]. (

Set yourself life-goals. (It's our old friend “take up a hobby”.)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
(But that presumes you’ll get to your destination eventually. What if your journey leads nowhere? What if you’re walking in the wrong direction? What if the journey will take too long?)

The journey not the arrival matters. If you got what you wanted, you’d only want something else. You may not get what you want, but you’ll get what you need.
(All popular in the 70s/80s where there were no solutions to most problems and the 50s "like it or lump it" approach was only just beginning to be eroded slightly.)

If you had a partner you’d only have other problems. If you can’t get what you want, change your want.
(Perhaps that's why they're called "agony" aunts.)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, so many of them! 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' Well not necessarily, maybe it was just something really horrible, like a flesh-devouring disease, and it has made you weaker. I also hate the smug 'both sides are criticizing us so we must be doing something right' - great favourite at the BBC, but a complete logical fallacy. Maybe you are just SO totally wrong that everyone else knows it.