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Mental Health

The Reality of A Wise Hypocrite

I’m sure you all know someone who, when it comes to giving advice, believes themselves to be a bit of a sage, yet is completely incapable of taking their own advice. I know someone like that quite well, and that’s because she is me. I consider myself to be an extremely wise hypocrite. Now I’m sure the boasting from calling myself wise makes you doubt the quality of my advice, but I’m sure if you look at each of your friends and members of your family, you can dissect moments where they have given you pretty solid advice that they should have taken themselves.  

Why exactly is it then that we can’t seem to trust ourselves when it comes to taking such well dished out advice? As Melissa Dahl said in an article she wrote for the New York Magazine, “it’s simply a matter of perspective. It’s hard to be your own adviser because you’re too close to your own problems.” It’s almost impossible to remove any emotion from our own situations. But sometimes we really have to analyze our problems, as if we are other people. It’s much more difficult for individuals to listen to their own advice because we don’t have the same general and unbiased perspective that we do when listening to other people. We begin to worry about each individual nuance, basically creating a defense mechanism that keeps us from helping ourselves.

I’m certainly no expert – definitely not a psychologist, not even a psych major – however, I believe that part of the issue is that the result of being a hypocrite creates more self-harm. Now there are worse things to be hypocritical about, because at least in this situation the recipient of your hypocrisy is yourself, and not others. However, the neglect of ourselves can be harmful. It’s obviously great to be able to listen and give out genuine advice to others, but if you are unable to trust your own words, then why would you listen to anyone else’s? 

Hypocrisy becomes like a self-neglecting habit. You want to help others, you enjoy it, but then you’re constantly giving out what you refuse to take. It’s obviously impossible to just change all your habits and start doing all the great ideas you’ve been told, but you should – and I should start – by listening to ourselves, even if we won’t listen to others. It’s easy to point out character flaws in others in order to give advice on how to remedy it, but maybe our constant hypocrisy is due to a lack of introspection.  

The lack of self-care due to this hypocrisy can actually be a form of bad self-reflection because yes, there is an incorrect way to self-reflect. I believe it’s easy for most people, when they have a problem, to fall into a victim mentality. For example, it’s easier to look at other people’s flaws when they have a problem, but it’s easy to blame another entity for our own. When trying to self-identify a solution, it’s difficult to follow your own advice because you created that advice, under the pretense of someone else’s flaw, and to yourself, you have none. 

So, in order to evaluate oneself, as Tasha Eurich wrote in her article for TED, we should ask ourselves, ”what?”, not “why?” questions when we are emotional. “The simple act of translating our emotions into language — versus simply experiencing them — can stop our brains from activating our amygdala, the fight-or-flight command center. This, in turn, seems to help us stay in control.” In order to be introspective, and be able to take the same advice we’ve given out, we have to be able to name our emotions and deal with them directly, not nuances of each individual situation that may cause that emotion to arise. 

It certainly is a process to be able to trust one’s own advice with the same ease as dishing it out. However, hopefully, acknowledging the hypocrisy, is the first step to discovering how to look at the big picture of our own problems. 

Tania is a Fashion Business Management major at FIT and is currently a Sophomore. She loves art, reading and writing and honestly any excuse to talk about all three.
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