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Column

Considering advice, both hurtful and helpful

Hello, friends. Staying cool and drinking water, I hope. We hear that a lot, right? They are right, of course, which leads me to my topic this month.

I’m having a series of minor eye surgeries, so I’ve been a little backed up. It is nice to be half way. That is minor to seeing a new great-great-grandson son, sitting in the shade, reading, sitting in the shade, reading. …

Why is it so important to get others to do something we want them to do? It is the “should” sentence.

You’ve heard it, and you have shelled it out to your kids as they were growing and maybe now, after they have grown.

Of course, we care about our friends and family, and we want the very best for them. But there is a fine line where caring and pushing almost become the same. Even “You should love yourself more” can sound shaming.

“You should wear that more often” can seem to say “Sometimes you don’t look so attractive” for some who are not feeling so confident.

As we age, we get the feeling of entitlement that allows us to use “should” when we see things not going the way we think they might. Some folks feel fragile sometimes, and when we use words like should, it becomes hurtful, and then they rightfully feel a need to defend themselves. This leads to more hurt feelings.

These phrases remind us of childhood scoldings. This phrase says we are not doing what we really should be doing, or we are less of a person in doing what we are.

On the other hand, I think if we do hear a “should,” it is smart to hear them out. We can assess whether this is good advice or not. We can be polite and say a gracious thank you and change the subject. Hopefully they will get the hint.

If you see someone you love harming themselves, come up with an alternative plan with kindness and refer them to a person who is a specialist they can ask for help.

Shaming just makes it worse, and resistance sets in. Make “I” statements, such as, “It scares me when I see you doing that.”

This leads to kind of an aside about another subject. We can sometimes encounter people who are really hurtful, and approach each subject that makes them think it requires them to have an opinion, and sometimes a mean opinion about you or others. What do we do when we see them approach?

Here are some tips. Speak politely and move right on or hide behind a bush, start talking to a perfect stranger, run to your car and speed away, act as if you have just been called on your cell phone, or if you get trapped, pull out every “should” you ever heard of and have at it.

(The heat just caught me off guard.)

Isn’t life fun most of the time?

Be kind as I know you are, and more later when inspiration arrives.

Note to readers: Nedda Simon of rural Princeton can be reached at neddasimon@ymail.com.

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