Do you take your own advice? Some of us have nearly perfected how to give good advice to others. Some of us, by vocation, are in positions where our opinions and counsel is sought out. observation, practice, and circumstances have developed an ability to help people see their problems and solutions more clearly. Now the next question? Are you good at taking your own advice? In other words, do you follow your own personal recommendations? Allow me to develop a couple of scenarios:

  1. One can advise people on how to draw closer to God. yet Am I fostering the same spiritual habits and disciplines in my life? 

 2. One’s ability to develop plans for others to become debt-free, and yet they remain in debt. Why?

 3. How to lose weight and get healthy? Through research, one has developed a program for accomplishing this perennial New Years’ resolution and yet never follow their own plan. Why?

The listing of areas where were we give expert advice to others and never follow it ourselves could be endless. Why?

Could distance be part of the answer? It is much easier to help others with their family, financial, fitness, and vocational problems. A reason could be that because we are removed from the problem emotionally and have space to think without certain biases and fear, we can rationally come up with a plan. This seems to make sense. Since I am not discussing my problems, it is easier for me to cut through the fog of emotion and layout a reasonable and actionable plan for others.

When it comes to diagnosing my own situation that is another matter entirely. You do not have distance from your own difficulties. Many if not most of the things that need working on in my life carry with them strong emotions. You can know that you are in debt and should not put that expense on a credit card, you have told others not to do so, but, you really want/need this item. You know that even a little exercise pays enormous dividends, but you tried it and did not keep it going, so you believe you will never change. You know you should save for retirement, but you have so many bills. The excuses go on and on.

In the field of psychology, this problem is called “Solomon’s Paradox.” Aptly named for King Solomon. Solomon, who was King David’s son, and was the wisest monarch of all time. People traveled from all over the world, to have Solomon listen to their problems and offer solutions. His brilliance and wisdom were legendary. Yet King Solomon’s personal life was a mess. He had 100’s of wives and made many poor decisions. Why? Could it be as simple as because he was so close to the issues of his life that he could not deal without bias and emotion? We all have lived with issues for so long that we have become paralyzed by fear and all of the emotional baggage surrounding the situation. 

You are able to give good advice to others because you are removed from their situation. Distance provides clarity. How do we help ourselves if we to suffer from the Solomon paradox? 

 Allow me to offer a couple of suggestions:

1 If you were advising someone facing the same problem you are facing, what would you say?

2 Remove yourself from the emotion and past experiences and view your situation from a distance.

Often times if we are too close to a person, situation, or problem, we really can not see how much our past experiences and emotion come into play. Another way to look at it may be to consider yourself your coach. If you were an outside consultant, what would you say to you regarding the issue?

This is one reason why it is good to have friends, mentors, coaches who can give us an outside perspective. This is not always possible, and at the end of the day, I must take responsibility for myself and my choices and my need to improve.

This is something I am thinking about today. Why not decide to work on something in your life and give yourself some grace and space.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle quote printed on grunge vintage cardboard

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