To the #Skinish Mom:
My son has eczema and it’s quite obvious on his neck and joints. I get unsolicited advice all the time – some of it are outright wrong, like to make sure I wash his skin thoroughly with soap! Soap! The one thing not to use on eczema skin! How should I respond – I so feel like telling them to f* off but I know it’s so wrong to do so.
I totally understand – the frustration (at getting tips all the time as if we are stupid and can’t read EczemaBlues for the right advice), the complete waste of time to pretend to listen to tips which we either already know or know it’s useless and the difficulty of how to get the person to stop giving advice without sounding offensive. Here are what I suggest, use at your own discretion:
1. Take Your Brain Elsewhere – We all know it’s hard to practice being present at every moment. Now is the chance to actively practice not being present.
Best part? Doing this will fend off dementia.
Harvard Health Letter’s executive editor Heidi Godman wrote an article in April 2014 “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills” and it gave me the idea – when you don’t want to listen to the person, but feel obligated to pretend to be, do (i) Memorize something (for me, I would run through bible verses) and (ii) Fidget like you need to pee. If you are munching dark chocolate at the same time, you are on your way to a healthy brain from diet, exercise and brain training. If the person stops and asks if you’re ok, say you need to pee and really got to go, ciao!
2. Stop the Talk before the Talker Gets Going – Take it from me – I give advice all the time and once I start, I can’t stop (evidently!). So, the trick is to stop the talk before it gathers the momentum that will snowball you.
Of course you ask, how do I do that? State as it is but trick the person’s brain – ‘Gosh, don’t get me started. There is so much to do for an eczema child which reminds me I got to find that hypoallergenic detergent. You don’t want to hear how difficult it can be, got to run!’ See, how diplomatic it is – the ‘me’ and ‘you’ reversed without hurting anyone’s feelings.
3. Reverse the Situation – Try this only if you have plenty of time. See (or think!) giving advice never work. You’d know since you are precisely trying not to listen to the advice without even hearing it. From Professor Thomas G. Plante on Psychology Today, he wrote “research using reactance theory informs us that whenever someone tells us what to do and how to do it, we respond with a defensive defiance because we want to maximize our personal freedom and decision making.” So, if you start giving advice and sharing your eczema skincare knowledge on sensitive skin products, staph bacteria and skin pH, you may be at the receiving end of an excuse to run off!
Wait, should I really listen? Yes, if that person is a dermatologist (not just any doc).
Why should I wreck my brains to find a way to excuse myself? That’s additional work for me that I don’t need!
Practically, it is better for you to use some brain cells and be diplomatic about not listening than outright blowing the person off. 1st, you use your brain. 2nd, you save the agony of worrying that you have been rude and 3rd, you come out feeling good about how cleverly you’ve handled the situation and celebrate it for at least a few hours after. Maybe even boast to your spouse. (But keep the boasting short, you want to impress not nag.)