Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Olivia Pope's Scandal and Taking Your Own Advice

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One program Myne and I enjoy watching is ABC's Scandal. Kerry Washington is Olivia Pope, the owner of a crisis management firm which is regularly called in by the high and mighty to help diffuse the eponymous scandals which would otherwise blow up in their faces.

A recurring theme in the series is Olivia Pope' love affair with the President of the USA. And before you start wondering, no, she is not the First Lady - and yes, there IS a First Lady. Not surprisingly, not being able to have the man she loves makes for a very miserable Ms. Pope.

In some recent episodes, Ms. Pope has taken to dishing out advice to some of her scandal-plagued clients. Nothing surprising about that, you might say - except that in some cases, the advice centres on the dangers of making wrong decisions or getting entangled with someone who is already taken. In other words, it is exactly the kind of advice that she needs to take herself.

Now before you start thinking "hypocrisy in a black dress", I should point out that Olivia Pope is very well aware of the fact that the advice she's giving could benefit her. In fact, she goes to such great lengths to spell it out to her clients that it's possible they know she's speaking from personal experience.

But is this kind of behaviour exceptional? By no means. Many, many people thrive in giving advice where they themselves could benefit from standing in front of an reflecting material while dispensing such advice.

Of these people, there are those who, like Ms. Pope, are aware that they need to take their own advice. They may point to themselves and their miserable wreck of a life as an example of what could happen if the person they are advising continues down the road to perdition.

However, in realizing this, they know that the question in the mind of everyone will always be - "if your advice is so wonderful, why aren't you taking it yourself?" - and that this will always affect the credibility of their advice. So sometime, they refrain from giving such advice, definitely not when unsolicited, and even when asked. But at least they are honest about their need for their own advice.

Unfortunately, the more common kind of person-who-needs-their-own-advice are those who are supremely unaware that they should be taking the advice that they are giving to others. I say “unfortunately”, because this lack of awareness makes them pontificate with a distasteful amount of self-righteousness. Even if someone was to point their hypocrisy out to them, they would probably respond with disbelief and even anger, because this challenges their feeling of being ‘better’ than the person they’re advising.

Note that I’m not saying that the advice that either of the people above give is bad. In fact, the fact that they are somewhat emotionally removed from the situation that they are giving advice on means that their advice could actually be more clear-headed. And that’s the reason it’s a good idea to ask someone else for advice when you’re confused, because that person might be able to look at the issue more objectively than you.

Still, what if, when needing advice on a problem, we could pretend that we were advising someone else, but they had the same temperament, same experiences and same problem as us? We could then bring to our advice the same empathy and the same insight that we would want others to bring to the advice they give us. If only we could do this without being caught up in the emotional turmoil surrounding such a problem, we would be able to advise ourselves.

Who has suggestions to make it easier to take our own advice when necessary? Or is it impossible to achieve that distance to enable us recognize when the advice we're giving out could be relevant to us too?


  1. i love scandal. there is just dis chemistry btw Fitz and Olivia but they both know it is a forbidden fruit. dis last episode wt r in d hospital and him walking in was so emotional

  2. This post is so well written, and it anaswered quite a number of questions I have had burning in my head! 'Why do people dish out advice that is so obvious they themeselves need?? Eh?! It is so bad that I have now stopped listening to, reading, or taking people who do that, serious.
    I watch Scandal too, and marvel at how Olivia dishes out, with great intensity, advice that she so obviously need to take herself.
    But that is the reality of life; we give out, and expect it to be accepted, things that we cannot consider for our own selves. #Scandalous!! :-)

    1. Hi Zouzou,

      Glad you liked the article.

      I wouldn't stop listening to advice - like I said, even those who should be taking advice still give good advice. You just have to decide whether the advice works for you.

  3. I wish i can leave person of interest which air the same time on CBS.i have heard so much about abc scandal.

    1. Where I stay, PoI (a good show, I agree) is on at a different time from Scandal, so there shouldn't be a conflict. But if that doesn't work for you, you can always watch it online at ABC's site.

  4. This is one of the hardest things to do, advising ourselves. But I'll try to take your suggestions.

  5. Like having an affair with ur married ex...U know its bad and karma is a bitch but U can't stop urself. Yet U advice other pple in same scenario.

    Things we do behind closed door, God is watching us.

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