Originally Posted June 12 2016
Absolute Most Cringeworthy Worst Advice You Hear All the Time and How to Fix It
1. “You’re still young!”
Reason for Cringe: Being young does not excuse the fact that it is still hard in the moment. Realize the person you are talking to is currently the oldest they have ever been in their life and that feels like a really really long time! Also realize that the gap between your ages will never shrink. No matter how young they seem now, they will still seem young when they are the age you feel now.
A Better Option: “Things will look up, and there are still things you can do right now that matter and have a huge impact!”
Accept that this is hard on them. Don’t belittle someone’s feelings if they have the courage to confess them to you. Also remind them though that even if life is not where they want to be right now, that they still matter, and that there are still things in life they can do. They are not waiting for the bus of life to show up, just walking currently down a different path.
2. “You know, you would be better if you _____”
Reason for Cringe: okay… I know your intentions are well meant… I know your heart is in the right place… But realize you do not need to point out that people have short comings. People are good enough at seeing those themselves. I don’t think I have ever met someone who wasn’t at least a little nervous about how they were viewed. Don’t make it harder on them.
A better option: You know, you have a lot of talent/potential in ________! Have you ever thought of ______?”
Funny thing you may notice. It is the exact same thing…. But it is not…. People are imperfect people, and we should always strive to improve. But it helps to point this out in a positive light not a negative light. If you want to reprimand someone, sure, be negative, point out why what they are doing is wrong. But to encourage? You want to motivate, not scare and discourage.
3. “Maybe you were just meant to be single.”
Reason for Cringe: Okay…. There are people in this world who are honestly happier being single and chasing their dreams than being in a relationship… But there is a thing you may notice about these people…. They are HAPPY being single and chasing their dreams. Sure they may think time to time it would be nice to settle down, but they are usually discouraged by the fact that doing so would stand in the way of what they want to accomplish. Chances are very high that if you feel like you need to comfort someone in this area, that they are not the kind of person this advice applies to!
A Better Option: “It is hard being single, but at the same time, don’t let yourself think that this means you have no value or purpose. You are a beautiful and wonderful person who will make whoever you end up with incredibly blessed! You have been and still can accomplish so much in this time that will make your time together in the future even better! Hang in there! Things do look up!”
Don’t destroy what few shreds of broken heart strings the person has left! There is still a chance no matter how long time goes on! But at the same time, encourage them. Remind them that their value is so much more than the people who rejected them. That they can and are accomplishing great good in this world and should not hold back on living until life moves on! That they should grow, and continue to grow, because they are important, and valuable, and worth a whole lot!
4. “You just need to take life seriously!”
Reason for Cringe: There is a very shocking revelation that people have trouble realizing… Everyone… No matter how many bad choices they make in life… Is trying their best to live… Just because you can see obvious faults that you would not fall for in someone else’s life, doesn’t mean they are easy or even visible for the other person. We are not made of putty that can be moulded into whatever shape we wish for no matter what society says. But that is good because those people whose lives you see so many faults in can often do the same with you!
A Better Option: “Life is tough, but you can do this! God does not give us more than we can handle. The very fact that you are dealing with this means that the God who created you knows you can handle this! I am here for you to work through what we can. It is hard work, but it will mean we come out stronger in the end!”
Never dismiss someone’s struggles as frivolous. Accept that there are things hard for one person that are not hard for you. Be there to support them and help them struggle through. Don’t knock them back and take the wheel. Pray for them, help the,, walk with them, don’t drag them.
5. “There are people who deal with far worse!”
Reason for the Cringe: The struggles someone goes through is hard for them. Opening up for someone is also hard for them. The fact that someone else deals with a pain you find harder to imagine dealing with does not invalidate someone else for struggling. Life is a struggle, it is how we grow, but it is also hard to do.
A Better Option: “What you’re going through sounds hard. I know it is hitting you very deeply. But at the same time I believe you can do this! God has your back through this and He will make you stronger in the end. I’m here for you for whatever I can do through it.”
Let someone know it is okay to feel pain. That they are not less of a person for feeling this way. Let them know that you believe they can take it, that God is with them through it all. Then let them know they are not handling it alone, that you are there for them.
Ultimately in the end, that is what we all want to know when we suffer. We want to know that we are not some weak and worthless person for struggling… That we are not going to be overwhelmed by the trial before us… And that we are not alone in dealing with what lies ahead.
Realize that this is advice for how to encourage. And sometimes, Encouragement is not the answer. There are those who get hooked on comfort and lose the desire to grow who honestly need a kick in the pants to keep moving… This is not my skill set so you will have to ask someone else for advice on tough love. But I hope this explains why some encouragement is helpful and some is not. The truth is that encouragement is more than just finding the answer to the problem, it is healing a hurting and broken heart