"The worst vice is advice."
Everybody has an opinion. And before recovery, I would readily give you mine. It didn’t matter if you asked for it or not; it didn’t matter whether I had ever taken the advice myself to see if it worked; and it didn’t matter if it made you feel better or worse – I was addicted to giving advice, and if you were nearby, you’d get it. As you can imagine, I was pretty obnoxious to be around, and all my advice didn’t seem to help anybody. In fact most people grew to resent me, and as fewer people called my circle of friends grew smaller and smaller.
When I entered the program, I still had a lot of advice to give, but my sponsor suggested I listen to what others had to say for a while. When I kept trying to tell him my good ideas, he pointed out that my best thinking got me a seat in a recovery meeting. When I persisted and tried to tell him about relationships, and career choices, and investing, he told me people might not be interested given that I was single, unemployed and broke. That kind of put me in my place…
What I learned by listening to others share is that they didn’t have advice. Instead, they offered their experience, strength and hope. If someone didn’t have direct experience to share, then they would encourage me to find someone who did. Over time I learned that advice is worthless without compassion, understanding and experience that comes from a shared point of view.
Today I don’t offer advice on things I don’t have experience with, and I don’t give it unless I’m asked for it.