Here’s a look at something we’re told not to do all the time that, if you go just a little deeper, may help you understand more about the world – and be more uniquely yourself in the process!
Listen to bad advice (but you don’t have to take it!)
Here’s a little nugget of wisdom I remembered from Anthropology 101: Everything has a purpose.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good purpose, or a purpose that’s going to help everyone. A lot of the time, what helps one group take power leaves another group oppressed and left in the dust. Get-rich-quick schemes leave you with a burst financial bubble, and corrupt politicians break their promises and betray the people who put them in power.
But here’s the thing: you know that phrase “follow the money”? Even if there’s no money to follow, follow the “why”. Someone is benefitting from all this, whether it’s for quick money, more followers, or even just to feel good about themselves. And the people who take the bad advice? What are they getting? A sense of security? An outlet for their anger?
Sometimes there’s an even bigger picture: what’s happening in the lives of these people, the schemers and bullies of the world, that keeps them from stepping up and just putting good ideas in those places? Were they the victims of bad systems once before? Are there bad ideas in place that are keeping them mean or deceitful, because they think that’s what the world has to really be like – instead of stepping up and changing their own behavior to something that works?
In the Tarot, the Devil card isn’t actually about any real figure. You can believe in the Devil, or you can think he’s a mythical figure, but the Devil card is about the things that bind us – often by our own choice. He’s the addiction, the defeating self-talk, the bad habits, the mental chains we wear. He’s what happens when we start listening to bad advice, instead of listening to our higher selves.
The Devil from the Ceremonial Magick Tarot, by Lon Duquette, is a great illustration of this. Even if you don’t know much about ceremonial magick (and I’m still learning myself!), take look at the crows on either side of his face. They remind me a lot of double talk, and negative self-talk, and all the chatter in our lives from all angles. We may be smart enough to discount it, but we don’t really think about what to do instead.
So use this exercise for yourself. You know the things you tell yourself late at night? The stuff that the musical ‘title of show’ so brilliantly calls the “vampires”, the soul-sucking fear you’re not good or creative or brave enough? Don’t take that advice, but look at it for a second.
Where is it coming from? If you follow it, what will it help? Will it make you feel safer? More comfortable? Once you find out why you’re telling yourself to just quit and go home, you can burst through the block with the good advice – the source of truth.
Don’t take the bad advice. Don’t even take it to heart. But if you look at all the bad advice out there, you’ll get a lot closer to the good advice that will serve you well. Deep down, you know the difference.