When Someone Is Wrong To Bother You

When someone tries to tell you what to do. They may take advantage of your confusion or they may have a sincere concern to help you and not the opposite.

A large number of studies (though not all, see #15) show that people are less likely to take action if someone tells them how they should feel and/or behave. In one study, for example, participants were asked to write about a time when they were upset, anxious, angry or bored with activities (e.g., going to work, seeing a movie) and were then randomly assigned to either write about how someone interfered in their lives or write about the same topics, but about someone else trying to help them.

In contrast, when they wrote about someone interfering in their lives, it improved their mood and energy level (more so when they wrote about a close friend), but the participants had more feelings of entitlement (i.e., a desire to intervene directly in one’s affairs), greater feeling of control-over, less concern for, and greater self-doubt, and more feelings of anxiety.

Also, when people felt more entitled or self-righteous, they found it easier to intervene in others (see #2).

In another large study, participants were asked to write about the time when something occurred in their lives that they were unhappy, frustrated, anxious, or angry. Afterward, they were asked what people should do/not do if they were in the same situation. They were less likely to recommend they let someone else help; less likely to recommend they stop what they were doing; more likely to recommend going with the flow; less likely to recommend they try a new thing; more likely to recommend they wait it out; and were more likely to suggest they talk it out.

Some have claimed that, as people move further and further from childhood, they learn how to adapt to their environment, and that they no longer need someone else helping them when they’re distressed. However, when studies show that they actually continue asking others to help when they’re distressed (for example, those studying to be doctors or the elderly in the study above), the study participants don’t show the same levels of entitlement that they did before being told how to react.

Another type of intervention is called “counterfactual reasoning,” the process of judging your current circumstances (like your current stress level) relative to what they could or should be. This may not necessarily make you feel better, but it can have a powerful effect on the way you’re thinking. When you have a goal like, “If only I were in a better situation, then all of this would be okay,” you can train yourself to focus on the most positive outcome that could possibly happen. In the meantime, you’ll feel more able to cope with whatever is going on in your life.

Some people like to think of themselves as “open-minded” or “intuitive,” the terms used by psychologists to describe the way you learn about the world and make decisions. But many people also use “counterfactual reasoning” as a strategy to avoid confronting stressful thoughts or feelings. These people don’t know how to approach difficult issues on their own or to rely on their intuition, because they don’t have a good idea about how to respond and think about them.

But you can learn by trial and error how to think about things and how to respond in different situations.

To sum up, counterfactual reasoning might work at times, but it’s usually going to make you feel worse if you use it too much or overdevelop it.

#17  Self-Help Books

“The New Adult is a very different kind of person than the young adult of yesteryear. It is not the world is ending and we must now live up to our values.