How’s your garden lookin’ today?
Photo: Parkseed, public domain.

“The fool who gives advice about someone else’s garden is not tending to his own plants.” -Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light: A Manual

As a writer and a communicative woman, I know that it’s often easier to talk than it is to listen. Lately, I’ve been really involved in keeping things in my own life running smoothly, and I think it shows in various aspects of my life, including my work.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been giving better advice to others. Maybe this is because I’m seeing to my own problems first–and I wasn’t doing that before. I think it’s also because I try to wait until someone asks for advice before giving it. Otherwise, are they really ready?

This is particularly relevant among female friendships. Going back to the Coelho quote, I’m glad I learned to usually tend to my own plants before criticizing someone else’s garden.

It’s still a work in progress for me, but having taken a step back, I notice how frequently this happens in friendships between women. I think it’s one thing to have an opinion; another to over-advise.

When I get offended at the unsolicited advice of another, further contemplation usually reveals that her own criticism is due to her poor handling of a similar situation. In the age of social media, all of this has become painfully obvious, and has given me yet another reason to check myself when I want to respond to passive aggressive comments in an aggressive manner.

While I won’t let someone trash talk me on my wall or on a group, there’s something to be said for handling such comments with dignity. I have no problem just explaining my process, desires, and experiences in my own ‘garden’ or life–and feel like that kind of honesty is usually the best response to others–especially when it involves saving personal or professional face in front of others in a social setting.

Do you think women have more of a problem than men when it comes to the ‘gardening’ issue?

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