Why is that we humans love to give advice even when we nothing about what we are giving the advice about? Why is that hatting it being done to ourselves, we feel so confident to push our opinions on others? Without being asked, without knowing half the facts, we will decide that we know better than any of the parties involved, and make it our life mission to tell them why we know how to run their lives better than they do.
I was reminded of this sad fact by a very dear relative, who I know means well, deciding that it was her duty to point out to my Mother that she was gaining too much weight and that if she did not do something about it she would look like the daughter of a woman who had to have the door to the refrigerator locked to keep her from eating. Now those of us who suffer from weight issues of any type know how uncomfortable it is to forever have well meaning people point out what you are already painful aware of. But in my book the injury was made far worse when this dear, well meaning relative, said that if she did not hurry up and do something she would look like the woman who had to have her refrigerator padlocked.
For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have weight issues, it might be hard for you to understand why I found this comparison particularly hurtful. But imagine if someone you loved took one look at you and said that if you did not comb your hair differently and change you coat you would look like just like that serial killer that they saw on TV last night. While it is not quite the same thing, you can understand how suddenly awkward and uncomfortable that love one would make you feel as you began to wonder who else saw that program and thought that you were the serial killer on the show.
While I know that this loved one meant well and was speaking out of concern that something must be done before my Mother gains too much weight, it does not take into account the cause of her weight gain. This loving relatively simply assumed that my Mother had no clue how much weight she had gained and only lacked the motivation to put down the fork and exercise.
Meanwhile our household is dealing with a limited budget that makes it hard to buy all the fruits and vegetables that we would like or need. Like it or not fruit and vegetables are not cheap. For four people it would cost four dollars on sale, to each have one mango. A three pound bag of oranges that would only last for two days would cost five. But for six dollars you can get a box of pasta from a place like Sams that would feed a family of four for several days.
But even though our budget is tight we could have afforded to buy more fruits and vegetables if it were not for the fact that we are dealing with multiple opposing allergies. One member thrives on being gluten free and falls apart when they have anything with gluten. Anyone who has had to buy or taken a good look at gluten free knows that having to eat gluten free is a financial drain. A cheap loaf of bread at Costco will cost 7.5o. That same loaf in another store will cost nearly 10 dollars or more. The cost of eating gluten free could be offset if everyone could eat it, but what helps one threatens to kill another. So two types of bread must be made, two meals must be cooked, and a limited budget must be divided between two opposing set of allergies.
But my well meaning relative did not take this into account when, following human instinct, she offered her two cents of well meaning advice. Without considering or examining all of the facts she assumed that all my Mother needed to do was put down her fork a few bites earlier and all would be well as the unwanted pounds flew off.
As the first wave of hurt calmed down I began to wonder how many times I fell into this trap. Looking at a situation from a third party perspective it was so easy to assume that my head was clearer, less emotionally involved, and could thereby analyze the facts better than the involved parties whose views were slanted by their emotional involvement. I began to wonder how without thinking or meaning to do wrong, how many people I might have hurt.
It made me realize that next time, before I offered my spectacular life changing advice, I should take a moment to make sure I knew enough about the situation to offer my lifesaving opinion. And if I found that the answer was no, then I need to learn that sometimes loving someone means saying nothing at all.