Advice and Boundaries

Linears and  Holographics
Different strokes for different folks

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post to introduce an upcoming Boundary Series

WHY won’t everybody LISTEN?

We humans are funny critters. We want everybody to do everything OUR way.

Secretly, we sincerely believe that whatever we have figured out effectively for our own lives would transfer to anyone else’s — if they’d only DO IT RIGHT, gol-nabbit!

The same advice is meted out to tortoises and hares, linear and holographic thinkers alike, depending on who seems to be currently doing better in the races we like to time.

THEIR problems would magically disappear with OUR solution,
IF ONLY they’d:

  • try hard enough
  • give it enough time to become habitual
  • “want to” badly enough
  • stop resisting
  • or procrastinating

 — or really wanted a solution and not simply a chance to complain!

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Except for ME, of course

As a Coach, I have worked very hard to jettison that kind of thinking. For the most part, I have.  But, in the first posting of parts of this article, five years ago now, I disclosed another of the more than a few times I’ve been knocked off my lofty perch.

I described the circumstances around a conversation with good friend and colleague, the late Kate Kelly, who was in the hospital at the time.

We were going ’round and ’round, each trying to get the other to understand our own point of view, absolutely certain that as soon as the other understood what we were saying, we’d immediately AGREE.

Nope.  We didn’t and we wouldn’t.

In exasperation, Kate finally said, “THIS is why nobody can give advice to anybody else!”

With all due respect to my dear friend, I completely disagree with her statement. We  most certainly CAN  “advise.”

HOWEVER, we must be willing to leave respectful space for the other to totally ignore our advice whenever it is not a good fit for their world-view, their values, their way of approaching things, or even their current level of willingness to leave the familiar behind.

  • We have to keep a close eye on our underlying thoughts, to make SURE we are not subconsciously “should“-ing all over them in our hearts!
  • And we must also remember that it’s usually a lousy idea to attempt to, in the words of Jungian analyst Robert Johnson, “teach an old man’s lesson to young men.”

It would probably ALSO be a good idea to get permission before jumping in with our brilliant thoughts and opinions on the subject!  Sometimes people just want to vent.

Live and Let Learn

Regardless of our private beliefs, most of us grudgingly permit others to run their own lives their own way with a minimum of grousing or but-inski — UNTIL  there is some kind of diagnosis in place. Then things get really dicey.

We like to believe that anything we say is “for their own good,” don’t we?
And while that’s not completely false, it’s not exactly true either.

We don’t want to worry about them.

Worried!We want them to take CARE of themselves — so we don’t have to worry about the impact of their diagnosis on our lives.

We want them to learn HOW to take care of themselves so we don’t have to worry about taking care of their lives for the remainder of ours.

And Stand Back Jack if we can pull RANK!

If we’ve ever been PROFESSIONAL caretakers or advice givers, we’re not used to having our pearls of wisdom scattered around the pigpen: teachers, doctors, lawyers, therapists – and coaches!  We can be some of the worst “just do it MY way” folk anybody knows.

What about PARENTS?  Aren’t we supposed to take their advice to heart?  Not really.

Even if that doesn’t mean, “Do what I say, not what I do,” God didn’t hand-inscribe a set of universally relevant tablets for parents to deliver to the masses. But, especially when a loved one has a diagnosis, we tend to forget that little detail.

  • And there is no rank higher than the one who got there first:  those “I’ve been through this myself and let me tell you that . . .”  folks.  
    (gulp – guilty as charged on occasion!)
  • Unless, of course it’s the really, really old dudes and dudesses looking back on their lives. Depending on the age of the advice-ee, “really, really old” could be as young as thirty!

If they’d ONLY . . .

Most of ALL, it seems, we don’t want to have to take precious minutes from our lives to finish what they start — if they even get that far!

Fair request, but where is it written we must?

We have to remember that just because WE need work honoring our own boundaries, it does not mean that the fall-back is permission to tell our Beloveds HOW to finish what they start – or expect them to do almost anything that would work better for us.

Unless we are twins separated at birth, most of us probably don’t have a clue about their best way to do much of anything.

Nor does it mean they MUST finish what they start, and so on, even if we live with them and can barely walk through the house without tripping over unfinished project detritus.

BOUNDARIES, boys and girls, THAT’s the segue here: setting them, expressing them, honoring them, restating them, bribing others to honor them . . . all beginning with the next article.  Stay tuned.

But, but, BUT . . . as you read the posts to come, try to remember to take what works and leave the rest behind – for a while or forever – AFTER you’ve given things a fair consideration with an open mind.

Meanwhile, if you’ll ring in down there in the comments with some examples of where your diagnosed Beloved is making your life crazy (or where the unasked for advice of what you need to do to manage your own life makes you want to scream, diagnosed or NOT), I’ll try to work some possible solutions into the upcoming Boundary posts. (No “advice” here, just a few little concepts and techniques that have been known to work for a great many others.)

Remember, if you want some personalized help with accountability and developing those boundaries, that is one of the many things I DO. And I’d love to do it with you. Get in touch if you want to talk about it.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

77 Responses to Advice and Boundaries

  1. Pingback: D.G. Kaye on growing self-esteem | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: Back to Boundaries | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. K E Garland says:

    Madelyn. This is spot-on, my dear! It’s so odd that I wrote the Law of Allowing a week later, but this is EXACTLY what I was getting at! Who are any of us to advise someone like sages on stages, and then get indignant when the advisee doesn’t want to listen lol Thanks again for the pingback and I’m so glad this fits with your message (and yes it leads right into boundaries).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christy B says:

    Oh Madelyn yes! There’s advice that’s uncalled for and not even accurate or helpful that comes our way. This post actually ties in with my birthing article published earlier today in terms of getting told how to have your baby (same wavelength we’re on, woohoo!). I’m so glad you’re here to help us steer the complex world that surrounds us, starting with our intricate minds!! Happy weekend xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Madelyn, I was watching one of my many favorite movies today (“Rear Window”), and thought of you when I saw the apartments (they reminded me of the apartments on “Friends”–especially the ones with the huge awesome windows…and that made me think of our conversation when you told me how expensive NY apartments are. So, I came looking for you…and, lo and behold, I see this incredible, practical, charming, candid, compassionate post about boundaries…thank you, Lord! I love it, Madelyn…I can’t ever hear these things enough. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so very true Madelyn . Live and Let Live, but not before at least trying to illuminate the living.. 🙂
    Sending Huge Hugs your way..
    At the end of the day, no matter how much we try to inspire and help bring change to the way of the world and our ways within it..
    We can only change ourselves..
    As my Dad would often say, We may lead a Horse to water, but we can not make him drink.
    Love and Blessings in all you do
    Sue ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny, Sue, my father used to say the same thing — as have I, from time to time, since becoming an adult.

      My mother’s was a bit more grounded in the pragmatics of caring for 5 children. “She’ll eat when she gets hungry enough” (not that we had fussy eaters in my family, thanks to my father’s 3-bite rule – lol).

      I’m not sure why some of us are called to attempt to illuminate the lives of others, but I’m sure you share my feelings that it is so joy-filled to be able to help, even a little bit, when someone is worried or challenged with something – or stuck.

      It also guarantees that we stay open and keep learning ourselves. (If we do it “right” that is – lol). 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sue. Huge hugs back your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Christy B says:

    You make a great point Madelyn that just because someone is complaining does NOT mean that they’re looking for a solution. They might just want to air their dirty laundry and you’re the clothesline at the moment 😉 Hey I just made up that metaphor but it works, right?! I’ve also had it where I state my opinion and think I’m quite accurate and then a friend does the same, with a difference of opinion, and I suddenly see another side to the issue that I hadn’t considered. Oh the meeting of the minds! As you can tell this post has me thinking and I love that about my visits here! xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • GREAT metaphor! As I grow older I have increasingly less space for airing the dirty laundry – but TONS of lines seem to have been strung for laundry that’s been washed. 🙂 I love to help with that “laundry” chore too!
      Like you, I have changed my opinion on a dime in response to the thinking of a friend or new information from a colleague, etc.

      Thank you for such kind words, Christy and for taking time to add to the content of this post. Yours also inspire me to think – and I adore your positive frame of mind. We seem to think alike in many ways, so rather than challenging me to change my thinking, they’re more affirming and likely to lead me to expanding my own frame. Thank you for that as well.


  8. dgkaye says:

    Great subject matter M. Boundaries – good lessons for many to pay attention to. Looking forward to this my friend. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your recent article is linked to the next one, Deb – LOVED these “tag team” posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Yes! And looking forward. I know how busy you must be too, not to mention the length of time that goes into each post you meticulously write, but if you’d ever want to write one for my blog, I’d be honored! In fact, I have about 3 reblogs of yours waiting in draft. I like to bring them out and give them new life, long after they’ve been posted and shared around and around, for fresh eyes. Plus, I don’t like to overwhelm my readers with many posts weekly, so they’re spaced out. Because I’m self hosted readers can’t just ‘follow’ my blog directly through WP, they have to sign up for my posts which are sent out once a week, so I wouldn’t want them to open an email with 30 blogs in it, lol. Luckily, many don’t wait for the weekly post and hop over on their own (like you) once or twice a week. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • LOL – anything to avoid digging through all the e-glut (not *your* emails, btw – I signed up for those, but locating them among the ones I did *not* ask for can be challenging).

          I’m with you on the desire NOT to overwhelm my readers with tons of posts – and I’m psyched to know that I can look forward to reblogs in the future. You are a doll.

          I’d be honored to draft something for your blog – as long as there is a bit of ease in the timing. Any preferences on topic?

          Liked by 1 person

          • dgkaye says:

            OH, awesome!!!! No worries, absolutely NO time restrictions! Whenever you get the impulse I’ll fit it in that week. I worked like a maniac getting my blogs set up til the end of next week I’m done, lol. I needed to clear space to work on my book. So psyched by the weekend I’ll be done first draft! I’m easy (well, no cinch, lol) when I invite guest posts, I usually invite people whose work resonates with what I advocate and leave it up to the writer with free reign. Anything to do with what you write about – mental health (wide open topic) or relationship related would be perfect! When you have the time! You need to be writing a book my learned friend. 🙂 ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Establishing boundaries is extremely important, and I am looking forward to your series on this theme.

    As an example: an ASD child would wiggle himself between me and his mother as we were talking because he was fascinated by bluetooth blinking on my chest (I wear it on a chain, like a pendant). The problem was, of course, that he would do the same to some students who had different issues and could not abide violation of personal space. Obviously, it would result in a “Wham!” Teaching this child boundaries protected him for life.

    This is an extreme example of physical lack of boundaries that is visible. Social boundaries are just as vital to a person’s survival, albeit not visible.
    Thank you for addressing the issue!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spent most of yesterday away from the computer, “resting” my back, so I’m only now getting back to approving comments (with a great deal more comfort). Sorry this wonderful comment has been languishing.

      You make SUCH a great point about how important “boundary lessons” are to the young – especially when they are neurodiverse. It not only helps them make friends as children, when they grow much bigger and taller, respecting boundaries becomes an essential life skill.

      I did theatre games for a bit with a woman who worked with children with downs syndrome and autism. I vividly recall how hard she worked to teach those adorable downs syndrome littles to shake hands to show affection, knowing that those impulsive hugs wouldn’t be welcomed in a just a few more years.

      As you so wisely say, “social boundaries are just as vital to a person’s survival, albeit not visible.”


  10. Adele Marie says:

    I have been on the receiving end of “you should” all my life and what I did was just to nod and then do totally the opposite which always hurt me and not the other people, they just go to say “told you so”. Now I hope I’m at a point in my life where I can see through the “nope going to do it my way”, teenage strop and the love that sometimes was put into the “you should”. xxx


  11. This is going to be a great series. Boundaries are so important and so often breached knowingly and unknowingly. We hope your back is okay? Did the watermelon fall to the floor. Back pain can be a real bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope -the watermelon survived the trip unscathed – I was simply in an awkward position putting something that heavy on the bottom shelf, the only one where there was enough height.

      I’ve often wondered if the men who design refrigerators today (and I’m sure they ARE men – lol) would know it only makes sense to put the part you are into and out of several times a day up top if they were first required to do the shopping, put-away, retrieving ALL items for cooking etc. for even a month. After their backs healed, of course. 🙂 I often wonder if anyone on the design team ever ONCE had to stock a ‘fridge (or clean one!) I seriously doubt it!

      Most fridge/freezers are still designed as they were in their early days – when the condenser was on the top and the freezer needed to be closest to the coils. The freezer on the bottom using roll-out drawers or shelves makes the only ergonomic sense with today’s technology. Duh!

      I’ll be back in shape shortly – maybe even tomorrow. I heal quickly and am being very careful not to further tire or strain my back by prolonged sitting. Thanks – both for the encouragement for the Series *and* the concern for my back (and the watermelon!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • LOL. We agree hands down about designs for appliances. Designers need to bring in people that use the products and then listen to their comments. But then again its like everything else they often believe they know best, lol. Glad you are on the mend and will be back on the football field ready to run.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s that “listen to” part where they really fall short – I think companies already bring in people for something they call focus groups – AFTER the fact, usually. (huh?)

          My fantasy is to be a “trainer” of the product designers (think lion tamer, whip and all – lol) – making SURE they understand all hassles of current product design from all points of view (*besides* “big strong man who only has to handle the product a few times in his life”).

          I’d bring in a bunch of Mom’s of young kids and people over 60 for *my* focus group!

          Get ready for Watermelon Day, designers – lol – btw, nobody gets to call in sick tomorrow! Life goes on for your customers and you don’t want to miss the value of *that* part of the lesson, do you?

          🙂 fun fantasy! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • LOL, we can see you now with that whip and chair helping those lions understand there are other view points aside from their opinions. After that group can we take on the packaging designers. The other day we had to open a Kraft salad dressing bottle. Well, let us tell you it took 5 minutes using a knife and fingernails to break through the first seal of tape around the cap only to discover the inner seal. I couldn’t help but remember my senior parents and how hard it was for them to get into containers including their own pill bottles. Can’t wait for the up coming post on watermelon designers hosted by Madelyn, tom, Audrey and host of other frustrated consumers, lol.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh yeah – the broken fingernails on packaging! OUCH. Once, nose dripping like a faucet, I ended up using a hacksaw to cut a container of otherwise pretty decent OTC allergy pills in half. I simply couldn’t get the darned top off no matter what I pushed, pulled, squeezed or twisted! They lost a potentially life-long repeat customer, needless to say. (At least the pills in those wretched blister packs can be accessed with scissors.)

              While we’re at it, can our consortium take on labels and instructions that nobody over 40 can read without a magnifying glass – EVEN if they can find their reading glasses? Seriously – especially for tub and shower products.

              I defaced a once-lovely (pricey) bottle of conditioner and it’s look-alike shampoo bottle with a Magic Marker™ after washing my hair in the wrong one every day for a week, wondering why it wasn’t staying clean! Unless I wore my reading glasses into the shower (come on – who DOES that?), they looked practically identical, the words on the bottles were so tiny. Went back to the drug store brand.

              On second thought – lets start a brand new consulting biz/production company. I already have the perfect name in mind: You Can READ The Label!™ — and have mentally story-boarded our first commercials (Audrey can tweak as she shoots them). You guys can beta test as you travel the country – lol.


            • LOL, we can visualize you standing there sawing away. We know what you mean though. Even the “blister” packs are hard when we don’t have our glasses on. Trying to find that little flap can be so frustrating. And yes they want you to read the label but we can’t see it without our magnifying glass and not many of us have those handy in our back pocket. We are laughing hysterically right now because we also use a laundry marker to label our shampoo and conditioners. Worst experience was when I brushed my teeth with prep H because the tube looked like the toothpaste one. I know… to much personal info but it’s the truth. Just glad it wasn’t the other way around. I think you have an idea for a great business venture “You Can READ The Label! I bet there are a host of other readers on the sites we follow that would agree with everything we are noting!!!!!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Many thousands in our target market, no doubt – but I’ll bet you’re the only one with the prep H story. Only funny long afterwards! Yiiiiikes!!!

              Liked by 1 person

  12. -Eugenia says:

    Excellent post, Madelyn, and thank you for linking in my post along with the other posts relevant to this topic. I feel privileged to be included and found some great new bloggers to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie gifts us today with an article that stopped me in my tracks. The topic is about giving Advice and it boils down to… “BOUNDARIES, boys and girls, THAT’s the segue here: setting them, expressing them, honoring them, restating them, bribing others to honor them…” Please, read on…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, John. Up for a moment to go to the bathroom and saw this. Wanted to say thanks right away, before I went back to bed after some naproxin and an ice pack. 🙂

      After a huge grocery shop last night I pulled my lower back – putting a watermelon on the bottom shelf of my fridge, of all things! I’m sleeping off the glitch (minor, but a bit annoying when sitting at my computer desk).

      I guess I’m supposed to take it easy online today, huh? Anyway, thank you VERY much for reblogging.
      xx, mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • John Fioravanti says:

        You’re welcome, Madelyn – I’m so sorry to hear about your back mishap. I’ve suffered from those lower back misalignments for over 40 years, so I know your pain! You take care of you today! Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Don’t you mean Gad Nabbit?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Advice okay if the person asks. But I’ve gotten in more fights and had broken friendships over unwanted advice. Being an extremely outspoken person I let people know don’t give me advice or suggestions that I did not ask for. One former friend I told her to MYOB. After all I am an adult and it’s an insult to my intelligence for others to speak on my situation when they don’t even know the whole story. They don’t know the other factors. They are assuming I’m incompetent or stupid. However I learned my lesson and I don’t share too much anymore. If people ask me how I am I’ll say Good and keep on stepping. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the people who give you unsolicited advice have lives more screwed up than your own.

    Also nobody changes unless they really want to or are forced to change.


    • ABSOLUTELY – about all of it! Great comment (particularly the last line!).

      It is especially annoying when people jump in before they know the details, isn’t it? If it were as easy as others sometime seem to think, we’ve probably already tried whatever they suggest anyway.

      People usually hope to be helpful – yet sometimes simply listening is the most helpful thing we can do.

      It gets tricky when they’ve hired you to help, but still true at times that people sometimes want a time to vent for a minute. I try to walk the line.


  16. Lucy Brazier says:

    I would like to send this article to an ex of mine, he always thought that his way was the only way and he ALWAYS knew better than everyone else, regardless of the subject matter or experience of the other person! Even those best placed to give advice have to accept that it might not be welcome on occasion. My grandfather always taught me to listen to everything anyone tells me – 99% of it might be complete rubbish and you can ignore it, but there might be 1% that is useful, so always listen. He is a wise old dude!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. that’s true!!! will remember what works and I will fuget the rest… think that’s the best (and it rhymes)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks for the awesome share, Madelyn and yes such inspiring points that needs to be understood and taken care of in our day to day lives. Great post as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You are right, Madelyn. Advice must be no strings attached. I like reading articles about this kind of thing and also about other people’s experiences with depression, OCD and PTSD. It helps me understand my son and sister better as it is hard from someone, who doesn’t experience these disorders, to understand their anxieties and issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent use of those articles, Robbie – understanding – and best place from which to write them. Everyone will choose what to DO based on their particular lives and experiences – and we must be willing to see that as the right thing for them (especially when we don’t agree – lol!) 🙂


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