Top Five Tuesday — Top Five “Advice Cliches” That Really Aren’t Very Helpful

Many times, WITH THE BEST OF INTENTIONS, we offer advice that is actually counter-productive.  We lean on tried and true cliches to encourage people facing life’s dilemmas, and if they follow OUR ADVICE / THE WORLD’S CLICHES disaster is likely to be the result.

Here are five to eliminate from your vocabulary … whether you’re in the helping profession or simply providing a shoulder for a friend to lean on:

One.  “Follow your heart.”  This one is so prevalent that even Tom Petty wrote about it:  “She’s gonna listen to her heart; it’s gonna tell her what to do; she may need a lot of loving but she don’t need you.”  Well, as much as I love Tom, I trust Jeremiah more:

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

When you “follow your heart,” you’re likely to believe the lies it tells you, lies designed to make you feel good about bad decisions.

Two.  “Trust your gut.”  This is like unto the first (#1, above), though with a greater emphasis on “instincts” that on “desire.”  I much prefer to trust a collection of wise people around me to give balance and insight to “my gut.”

Three.  “Be true to yourself.” If you are god, this is a fine one.  But you’re not.  He is.  Being true to ourselves leads to narcissism; becoming true to him leads to liberation.  It’s why we often say at Good Shepherd that the most important thing that ever happened in your life didn’t happen in your life — it happened in Jesus’!

Four.  “Think outside the box.”  Wait, what’s wrong with this one?  I’d rather assemble a really good box and dive into it repeatedly for both wisdom and creativity.  Ridding myself of this cliche has been important for my own growth as a leader — it keeps from being scattered by keeping me centered.

Five.  “Time Heals All Wounds.”  Time helps.  It doesn’t heal. Sometime s when we say this to hurting people, it’s so WE WILL feel better around.  We try to speed their pain instead of sitting with it.  God’s timing in bringing his healing is according to his timetable, not ours.