Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ tells the story of a rich ruler who commissioned a new suit of clothes from a pair of swindling tailors who sold him garments they claimed would appear invisible to those who were ‘unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent’.
When the clothes were ‘delivered’, everyone from the Emperor down sycophantically pretended they could see them, for fear of being labelled unfit, stupid or incompetent, leading to the rich man parading around town without a stitch on.
Only one citizen, a young boy, was sufficiently brave to point out what everyone else thought, but was too frightened to say.
In the words of Danny Kaye’s re-telling of the story in a song written by Frank Loesser, he exclaimed, ‘Look at the King, Look at the King!…
The King is in the altogether…’
Most of us aren’t surrounded by people frightened to have views of their own, of course, and they’re generally only too happy to express them.
They may even have opinions about your own particular circumstances.
And those circumstances could from time-to-time include you feeling down in the dumps.
This is when you’re likely to hear the old phrase ‘if I was you’ from them.
There’s a tendency to dismiss this kind of ‘help’, because the person issuing it is of course not you.
How can they know how you feel?
What gives them the right to issue advice?
To a certain extent, you’d be right to think this: but only to a certain extent, because now and then outsiders can help you gain a useful new perspective on your own situation.
So talk to people with different views.
You don’t need to accept everything they say, but doesn’t it make sense to listen at least, just as the Emperor eventually did?
Sometimes hearing the naked truth can be good for you.