Beware of advice

Maybe I spend too much time on social media but it strikes me that there is no end of advice on what we should be doing right now; how to entertain children, what to watch on Netflix, how to make zoom meetings extra effective, what to wear when you go shopping, what exercises to take and what to cook with half an onion and a tub of margarine.

Then there's the articles about mental health. Many I've seen contain some great ideas and some I would recommend myself for sure, many I already follow myself. I do have concerns though, and it's overload.

Overload of opinions, instructions, advice and well-intentioned help. This is all too familiar to me as a counsellor, all too often a client will tell me about what they should be doing and what others tell them to do, again it's very well-intentioned advice most often from loved ones but it's all too often very hard to follow. There are so many seemingly obvious and instinctive ideas out there to aid your mental health and if you find one that works for you I am so incredibly happy for you but what if it doesn't help, what then? It's easy to become bogged down in the very methods which have been designed to do the exact opposite. So I only have one piece of advice; stop placing so much importance on the advice of others and listen to your own.

As a person-centred counsellor, time and again I've seen the benefits for those who can tune in to, and follow, their own intuition of - as I prefer to call it - your gut instinct. I don't believe that most of us need the advice of others right now; if you're reading this the likelihood is you've already read plenty about what you can be doing to make yourself feel better. Maybe now is the time to step away from the screen, make a drink and reflect on what you think is best for you; you're the one who will be able to answer that question the most effectively. 

The trouble is, the first set of answers may be unattainable right now - getting a hug from a loved one or having a drink with your best friend can't happen whilst you are socially distancing. Acknowledge how hard that is and ponder more on what else might help, within the realms of what is possible right now. I was about to list a few ideas then - this advice thing is hard to avoid!

If you're struggling to find your gut instinct or to know how to use it, maybe that's the time to chat with someone else, to explore your thoughts, ideas and feelings to get in touch with your gut. Again, you'll only know your best route by taking time to consider it. You've made all your best life decisions to this point, trust yourself to be able to continue making them now.

And if you do feel that what you need is to look up some advice - please be safe in which sources you rely on, be that people, TV or internet. And if it feels a bit off - well done, you've found your gut and it's telling you something.

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Written by Darren Sharpe


Darren is a humanistic counsellor working from the humanistic tradition. Darren works out of his counselling room in Ashford, Kent but at the moment is working exclusively with clients remotely over the phone or zoom. Further information can be found at

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