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Your Own Advice Is the Hardest Pill to Swallow

Giving advice is pretty easy: Anyone can give advice. Anyone can make recommendations. Anyone can tell you what to do. Just because someone spouts their opinion, though, doesn’t mean it’s the correct advice for you.

It’s often easy to take advice from other people when they are dishing it out. Having relationship trouble? We typically ask a friend for advice. Having a conflict with a co-worker? We ask another co-worker for advice. Having money problems? You get the idea.

Sometimes, all we have to do is look in the mirror and ask ourselves for advice. Who knows you better than you? Nobody is more aware of your situation. Nobody is more familiar with every scenario and potential outcome.

So why do we turn to others so often? Because it’s easy. If someone tells us what to do, we don’t have to think. Coincidentally (or not-so-coincidentally), this is also how fascism works: someone else makes the decisions for you.

Or sometimes we ask other people for advice to reaffirm our own—but other people rarely have the same stake in the outcome, which makes their opinion less valid than our own.

It’s okay to ask others for advice—sometimes it’s great to have a fresh pair of eyes—but remember: it is you who must live with your decisions.

Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.