Are You Asking for Honesty or Affirmation?
I remember the first time I walked into my therapists office –I had just been caught in an affair and it seemed like almost everyone I knew was against me. So, when I walked into his office, I had an agenda. — I wanted that man to know how awful my marriage was in an attempt to somehow justify my affair.
Thankfully, he is a far better therapist than that so while he allowed me to say what I felt I needed to say, he took it for what it was and quickly started to focus on me and MY destructive behavior that led to the affair.
He knew that I was looking for affirmation, not honesty.
As we discussed HERE, God ultimately used Andy, as well as a handful of other therapists and organizations to save our marriage.
Since we started blogging over a year ago, we have had hundreds of conversations with couples and individuals about their marriages. And we frequently talk with people who are looking for affirmation and justification for their behavior instead of honest advice or direction.
As we have discussed in previous posts, some therapists will simply work on the symptoms of a problem vs. working on the cause of the problem as a measure of job security. That is, they can spend hours with you while you spends thousands of dollars on them while you simply vent about how awful your marriage is. They can smile and nod as they affirm your difficult situation and take your money.
But a good therapist will focus on you and your contribution to the mess in an attempt to actually fix your problem at the root. And thankfully, that is what our therapist did for us. But regardless of how good the advice you get from your therapist, friends, or mentors may be, it wont matter if you aren’t listening.
It’s great to have a circle of safe people in your life that you can go to for honest advice and perspective. But —
If you aren’t going to heed the advice you’ve been given then why ask for it at all?
There is a great Steve Martin movie from the 80’s called The Man With Two Brains. I won’t go into the details of the movie as to avoid what would surely be a spoiler of one of my favorite movies. But there is a funny scene in the movie where Martin’s character, Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (pronounced: Ha-furrr) is asking his deceased wife whether or not he should marry the new girl, played by Kathleen Turner.
Here is a clip:
Are you Asking for Honesty of Affirmation?
Have you ever asked questions like this? I mean, have you ever asked someone for direction and even though they provided you with a clear answer, you just ignored it because it wasn’t the answer you were looking for?
So many of the couples we know are surrounded by wise counsel and in some cases spend thousands of dollars to ultimately just ignore the advice of the they’re paying for.
If your mechanic told you that you need new brakes, would you ignore him? If so, it either means you don’t trust your mechanic or that you have a death wish.
So, if you are being told that your behavior or direction is harmful — Then you need to listen. Otherwise, (to continue the brakes analogy) you will lose control of your life and crash. The crash may or may not kill you but it may destroy your family and leave you wishing that you had died instead. (ask me how I know or just read THIS)
Is your pride worth that risk?
I get it. When we have our hearts or minds set on something, no matter how good or bad it may be, it can be hard to REALLY listen when someone tells you to go in a different direction or doesn’t give us the answer that we are looking for. Even though I wrote 5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Cheated, I’m not sure I would have listened to any of them.
The truth is, there was someone who asked me about my relationship with the other woman but I lied to him and ignored his advice.
So, you either heed the advice of the people around you or you can ignore them and keep doing what you want to do while you look for people to tell you what you want to hear. The choice really is yours and yours alone but choosing to ignore wise counsel will ultimately destroy your life and possibly countless lives around you.
The Bible talks about it this way —
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15
It’s hard because sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow! But this is what it looks like to die to yourself and yes, sometimes, it will feel like you are literally dying as you endure honest and healthy feedback or direction.
We often ask God and even our friends for direction and we should. In fact, we should do it more often.
But how often do you ask for honesty?
Sometimes we expect God to answer us by writing the answer in the sky or by setting a bush on fire and using it to communicate with us. He is capable of all of those things but in my experience, whether it’s a close friend, a therapist or even the author of a book I may be reading
God typically uses other people to give me honest direction and feedback.
And I suspect the same is true for you. But the question is, are you willing to listen and actually do what you’re being told to do?
If not, then stop wasting your time and money going to therapy. And stop wasting your friends time by trying to manipulate them into affirming your destructive behavior.
But if you are really looking for honest feedback and direction then be humble and open-minded because while the answer may come from a therapist, the Bible or even a sermon, it not come from such a likely place.
Just don’t ignore the spinning picture in your living room!