Saturday 27 August 2016

Unhelpful Advice 3

Judge people – everybody else does.

Here’s some unhelpful advice that is very easily disproved by a little thought. It’s what used to be called “pi-jaw”, a pious lecture. When shown disconfirming evidence, purveyors of this gloop tend to say "It's a general principle", like that Flaubert character who was always saying "Yes, but my point holds!".

Do people say all these things, not because they believe they’re true, but just to encourage us to do something? Or to make us shut up and go away? Or to neutralize us, stop us rocking the boat? Or do they have to mouth the platitude before qualifying it until it means whatever they want it to mean? And they catastrophise (Looks don’t matter!) just to get through to us. They hope we’ll accept the dictum about 5%. Looks really, really matter, but remember to consider someone’s character as well?

They dish these platitudes out to children of 14-15, when the kids are just about to escape from their control, discover other points of view and start thinking for themselves. This is their last chance to bombard the young people with propaganda – all this drivel is from age to youth. Adults are terrified of young people, and are convinced they will become “feral” at the drop of a hat. This may explain a lot.

Look around you – do you see a lot of people following this advice? Is it a successful strategy? Why do they tell us to turn the other cheek, that a soft answer turneth away wrath, when all around us we can see bossy, domineering, loud, frightening, shouty people getting what they want and pushing others around? Truly, the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but it's the way to bet.

Everything contains its opposite – they are telling us what people actually do. If they tell us not to do something, that means some are doing it. So why is it just me who has to live in the moment, not compare myself to anyone, never think about what others are thinking about me?

They never tell us to climb a hierarchy and gain power, they just tell us to be nice, and not to complain. And laugh at ourselves. You have to ask yourself why. (“Being nice will get you everything you want!”) Meanwhile the queen bitch has a much better time.

“The only way you can accept new joy and happiness into your life is to make space for it... Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to let it go.” Plus: “Make space in your life and someone will come along to fill it.” Oh, I see, they don’t mean “clear a space in your wardrobe”, they mean “throw out your old clothes”. Not so much “let it go” as step away from toxic relationships, move to another job, another city... You can’t turn the bad things into good things, or stick around hoping it will get better. And they don’t mean “accept” they mean “acquire”.

Appearance doesn’t matter: this means “YOU mustn’t judge people by appearance because it is WRONG, but YOU must dress smartly because EVERYBODY ELSE will judge you by appearance.” Furthermore, pretty people get the jobs, the boyfriends and the presenting slots on TV. And probably higher salaries.

When Jesus said “Judge not, lest you yourself be judged”, he meant: “If you judge others, they must be judging you. But if you all as individuals think 'Ooops, then I’d better stop judging people', then you’ll all stop doing it. Or that’s the idea.” Or is he saying “Go on, judge people – everybody does it”?

Live in the moment! If we all did that, there would be no historians, newspapers, news channels, employment agencies, dating sites. Driving and tennis would be impossible, because you need to predict where the oncoming car/ball will be in a few seconds. You couldn’t even think, talk or go shopping. It must mean: “Plan for the future, but enjoy the present occasionally.”

“You don't need to be a married homeowner with a 10-year career plan by the time you're 30. Be patient and stay focused on the present... avoid driving yourself crazy with five-year plans and focus on immediate goals.” ( Translation: You sure as hell better be a married home-owner by the time you’re 30.

Or does it mean “forget the recent past, rewrite your history”? Last year’s flaps, fads and fashions are quickly forgotten, and every innovation is greeted with shock and surprise.

Confidence comes from within: Perhaps this means “Don’t let others destroy your confidence, because they will try”. Or maybe: “Don’t blame others, because then we’d have to do something about them. And they’re probably scary.” Or even “Don’t expect others to give you confidence because then we'd have to be nice to you and it would be a bore.”

So remember:
Say you want to be different, while being exactly like everyone else.
Looks don’t matter, but there’s a beauty industry.
Don’t think about what other people are thinking about you, but first impressions count.
Live the dream, but manage your expectations.
Don’t compare yourself to others, but try and be top of the class.
Be extraordinary, while conforming.
Appearance doesn’t matter, but wear a suit to the interview.Live in the moment, but charge your mobile.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.  (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
Hate never wins. (See the history of the 20th century.)

You can only succeed by failing a lot. (People usually succeed by improving.)

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. (But you may never live it down.)

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. (Buddha) Right, I won’t bother calling Mountain Rescue when lost in a blizzard on Ben Nevis.

You are responsible for everything that happens in your life. (Why do the police pursue thieves, rapists, attackers, and not their victims, if the attack was the victims’ entire responsibility?)

There’s no such word as can’t. (Let me give you a lift! You’ll soon find out what “can’t” means!)

Every great story on the planet happened when someone decided not to give up, but kept going no matter what. (Spryte Loriano See those people who mortgaged their house to put on a self-penned musical in the West End.)

Live the dream! (A lot of little girls dream of becoming ballerinas.)

Wounds, scars, and past indiscretions do not define who you are now. (But you may have to move towns.)

My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me. (Steve Maraboli This is whistling in the dark – what if you can't live it down?)

There’s no point emigrating – you’ll take your problems with you. (If your problem is other people, you can leave them far, far behind. And they probably don’t like that.)

Be original. (Everything you did or said would have to be something nobody had ever done or said before.)

Violence never solved anything. (On BBC News, a former young offender says that in prison you have to immediately show you’re tough, “with extreme violence”, or you’ll be terrorised.)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Be a tall poppy. (You try it.)

If people make fun of you it means they like you! (It quite clearly means you are low down in the pecking order and they DISlike you. Even more clearly, everybody knows this.)

Always be strong enough to let go, and be smart enough to wait for what you deserve. (Like waiting for a 73 bus in the old days.)

If you can’t change something, you can always change your attitude. (This means “Shut up, forget it, and do stop droning on about it.”)

You don’t always get what you want, but you may get what you need. (Popular in the 70s before the Human Rights Act and the consumer movement.)

Don’t think about what others are thinking about you. (Translation: In an ideal world it would be nice if people thought about public opinion a little bit less. )

Love comes to those who still hope after disappointment, who still believe after betrayal, and who still love after they’ve been hurt. (Is this evidence-based?)

Believe you can and you’re halfway there. (Theodore Roosevelt)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle. Allegedly.)

It's not the load that breaks you, it's the way you carry it. (Lena Horne. 16 tons?)

Goodness is better than beauty. (But if you want a footballer husband and a mansion in Cheshire, better go for beauty.)

Looking happy makes you beautiful. (It doesn’t, but it might help.)

Decide where you want to be, and work backwards from there. (A great “how not to do it” from the 80s.)

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. (Martin Luther King, Jr. At least it’s better advice than – and completely contradicts – the previous adage.)

If you sit all day at the Café Rotonde, sooner or later everybody you know will pass by. (But it’s quicker to use email or Facebook to stay in touch.)

Revenge only hurts the avenger, and if you sit long enough by a river you’ll see the body of your enemy float by. (So who pushed him in? Somebody who decided not to wait?)

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth. (Marcus Aurelius – perhaps.)

Looks don’t matter, but:  restaurants seat attractive people at the front, where they can be seen from the street. Unattractive people are seated at the back behind pillars. And night-clubs have always ensured a supply of pretty, willing girls. Nightclub promoters lure women in with free drinks, allot them to tables of men according to looks, charge them (or not) to get in according to appearance. In the olden days the nightclubs employed the girls who encouraged men to drink and buy them expensive presents, or else men paid them for a dance, or to sit with them. And the promoters and Mama-Sans always say “Whether the girl goes home with the man is entirely up to her, whether she asks for money is entirely up to her.” In the old days, women asked for cab fare and powder room tips – they just happened to be long, expensive cab rides.

X is tired of being stereotyped by her height and weight. (BBC Breakfast)

Just Be Yourself: Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person than you are. (Mandy Hale)

It means don't put up a front or try to be someone you aren't – People will like you for YOU. (@NataliePalombi She adds that it means “Don’t be a sheep”, and if people don’t like you for yourself, get new friends!)

Mystery writer Ngaio Marsh talks about young people having “group mannerisms”, and perhaps this is what they’re warning us against. (But it may be how you get accepted into the group.)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been,” said George Eliot (I bet she didn’t.)

Nobody’s life can be ruined except by themselves.  (Agatha Christie character Parker Pyne)

Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner. (Let’s see how understanding the police are.)

More here.

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