Unsolicited advice: Giving advice or making suggestions when you haven’t been asked to.
The vast majority of unsolicited advice I receive comes from within the chronic illness community. I’ve set page boundaries on my social media accounts yet still the messages come. “Anna I think you’d benefit from…”
For me, an after effect of well-meaning unsolicited advice is that it can make me feel really low about what I can’t do, or what I can’t afford (financially or otherwise) or what hasn’t worked out for me.
A kindhearted suggestion from others with the same diagnosis as me, about how to make a task more accessible to me, merely points out how even that way of doing the task is out of my reach.
It then becomes harder not to compare my restrictions with theirs.
Receiving unsolicited advice always leaves me feeling conflicted. I believe the majority of people who send tips or “have you tried…” or “in case it helps” messages have the very best intentions. And because they mean well, it makes me feel like a dreadful person for how the unwelcome advice is.
I’ve been told that asking people NOT to send such comments or messages, is not fair and not how someone with a public social media presence should go about. I’m told I’m overreacting when a seemingly innocent message derails my day.
Spoiler alert: nobody but me gets to decide what is or isn’t a big deal for me.
I am learning that actually an online presence doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing thing. I am allowed to mould my online experience to suit me best. In the gentlest way, I’m not sorry if that doesn’t work for you. You’re welcome to go and curate your own space in your own corner of the internet instead.
To have strangers on the internet make suggestions about ways to make something more accessible to me might seem like a great community spirited thing. But in truth it often leaves me feeling sad about how I STILL can’t carry out the task you’re trying to make easier for me.
Even something as innocent as advising me to get a stool for the kitchen can be problematic. There are reasons why I don’t have one. Blood pooling. Dizziness. Orthostatic intolerance. Expensive. Space. Lots of things. And it makes me feel like everything I share needs to come with a disclaimer or an explanation.
And unfortunately, whatever the intentions, the outcome is much the same.
The thing is friends and followers, these messages make me feel quite low. Sometimes for an extended period of time.
The energy and cognitive function is takes to open a message, begin reading, and then realise that it’s a “Have you tried…” message. Pals, yes I probably have tried it. And if I haven’t, there’ll likely be a reason for it. It is frustrating, as someone who has lived this way for an entire decade, to receive these messages.
I know you’re only trying to make life a little better or easier for me. But I don’t need you to. Really I don’t. If I need a solution for a particular thing, I assure you that I will seek it out.
If I ask for input, if I ask a specific question, then your suggestions are so welcome and gratefully received. But on the whole, I’m not here for feedback or recommendations about what you think will help or benefit me.
I think it’s clear to most people that I’m just here sharing my ramblings and hoping you’ll come to a tea party. I’m not looking for suggestions on advice. That might be quite different from what you’re looking for in your own corner of the internet. But I’d ask again, if I haven’t specifically asked for it, please save your energy and don’t send me unsolicited advice, however good your intentions may be.