When our friends turn to us in a time of trouble, we can often see their problems and situation so clearly. Looking from the outside, we can see what the problem is and the way to fix it, and as a result, give the perfect advice. However, when these things happen to us, we cannot seem to give ourselves the same great advice, or let alone, follow it. Why is it that we can’t help ourselves the way that we do others? How is it that we see it so clearly when it happens to others, but when it happens to us, the problem becomes impossible to solve? Why can’t we follow the advice we give so easily to others?
I have found this to be the case in my personal life. I believe that I have a fair knowledge of the right things to do in certain situations, either because I have had prior experience, or because I have given advice to a friend in a similar situation. But, somehow, when it happens to me, I can’t do it. Years ago, for example, one of my closest friends was in a toxic, one-sided relationship, in which she was putting in all the work. Back then, I gave her what I believe to be fairly good advice. But, years later, when I found myself in a similar situation, I didn’t seem to realize it. How could it be that I haven’t seen the signs? After all, haven’t I given the same advice to friends in similar situations?
I think what it all comes down to are self-criticism and ego. When someone approaches us for advice, we get an ego boost, feeling recognized, and essential. But, when it comes to ourselves, we tend to believe that our issues do not require immediate resolution. In a typical situation where a person comes to us for advice, we usually are not directly involved in the events at play. I was able to see my friend’s problems and offer sound advice because of my third-person point-of-view. A certain degree of objective introspection is required to be able to take one’s own advice, and most of us lack the ability to do that. This could be because we can detach ourselves from the emotional response to situations when it concerns others. Whereas, when it comes to our own problems, we are so engrossed subjectively into it that the emotional blanket of attachment doesn’t allow us a clear view. Our egos and feelings are in the way, and if we do not make the deliberate and albeit difficult effort, our side of the story is the only thing we’d see.