One of the reasons I started this blog was because I thought I might be able to offer positive help and advice for people in similar circumstances to me. Having a pre-verbal child with autism can be confusing and scary, and maybe I felt that I might be able to make it just a little bit less confusing and scary for other parents going through the same thing.
In other words, deciding to become a parent blogger means that I have decided to put myself in the business of offering advice.And that’s a problem.
I’m sure we’ve all felt undermined at some point in our lives, that feeling that our opinions and advice aren’t worth listening to.
But what happens when you’re the one contradicting your own advice, and not because you’ve come to the conclusion that you were mistaken, but simply because you’re petrified at the thought that someone might actually listen to you?
I have come to this conclusion lately, and it’s disconcerting to notice this pattern of behaviour in my head. I think I know why it happens: part of the way my brain works means that I think things through after the fact. Over and over again. It’s a form of rumination, common behaviour in people who suffer from depression and anxiety. In other words, I’m constantly looking for things that can go wrong, even when there’s no real reason why anything should go wrong.
It’s exhausting, and it gets worse. The Internet is a strange and welcoming place. Sometimes it can be terrifying, but it’s very facelessness and facade of anonymity means that anyone has a shot at being listened to.
To someone who isn’t used to it, this is unnerving. Which is why when someone comments to say they’ll be taking my advice, my first instinct is to scream, “Are you mad? Why are you listening to ME?” Or to immediately point out the reasons why my advice was wrong in the first place. Even if I don’t think it was wrong. Even if I think it’s good advice.
It might even be over something as trivial as a book that I’ve recommended, which is just ridiculous. How often do you see a positive review of a book that you’ve hated, or vice versa? People have different tastes and different reasons for reading. It happens. So why do I let it worry me so much?
Well, it’s the bastard anxiety again, combined with the need to avoid conflict and people-please inculcated in me from childhood. I fear that someone will take my advice, it will go wrong or not quite work for them, and they will blame me.
Yeah, well screw that. The world is full of bad advice. There are books packed full of the stuff. I offer advice based on my own experiences. Some of it may work for you and some of it won’t, and the exact same thing is true just about every piece of advice out there. Take what you can use and ignore the rest. Try different things. Find what works for you.
From now on, unless I realise that my advice was wrong, badly worded or misunderstood, no more undermining myself. No more second-guessing myself. No more correcting myself.
I get enough of that from other people, thanks.
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