I Want To Pick Your Brain

wayback-elsaelsa-2006-crop“In fashionable society one never insists, but listens with complacency to every kind of nonsense. He is not there to teach or correct; not if he belong there, to learn, but to wear fine clothes and to eat and drink.”
– J.L. Spalding, 1901

I was six years old the first time someone told me, “I want to pick your brain”. I don’t think people use this phrase anymore, but I’ve been asked to share my ideas or offer my opinion on a vast array of topics, all my life.

Your see evidence of this on this blog all the time. If you’re new, you may not know it but my blog was called, “ElsaElsa – The Advice Blog” when it first launched. I started blogging in 2001…all because a group of people wanted to know what I thought.

I’m not sure what it is about me that makes people seek my view of something. My guess is that it’s a combination of things. Or maybe it’s because I’m unusual and the person is not getting what they need from the chorus.

I’ve been thinking about this because I’m still constantly asked for my views on things. This used to be a lot fun. These days it’s quite difficult. It’s dicey, because so many people get angry when your express a view contrary to their own.

I don’t belong in fashionable society. I’m not that hungry or thirsty and I hate to dress up.

I don’t know how to handle this, especially when “fashionable society” comes to me. I sure miss the truly curious. Their ranks are shrinking. It’s clear to me I need to adapt.

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I Want To Pick Your Brain — 44 Comments

  1. I have experienced this too recently when I have a differing opinion to someone whom has asked me what I think and when I offer solid debate contrary to their position they get angry but then worse to “win” the argument (that I erroneously mistook as an exchange of ideas) the other party makes it personal and either insinuates that I have personally insulted them or they personally insult me or both. It’s really weird when most often the subject of discussion is not a personal matter. But I really think it boils down to emotional maturity regardless of how intelligent someone is if they are not mature enough to handle it they will attack when they feel “threatened” and it is interesting to see how easily emotionally immature people can feel threatened when there is no threat. I have also come to realize that there are a lot of people whom use you to validate their position, in other words they are looking for support only and not really open to any opposition. They want to hear what you have to say as long as it corresponds with what they want to hear.

    • I wind up feeling repulsive. I hate that.

      I’m telling you, people used to really like hearing an outside opinion. They wanted to expand their bounds.

      But now, people just get irritable. And they’ll ask you things, over and over, until they hate your guts.

      I’m looking for a way to avoid this trap. I’m tired of being a sucker. It’s like some kind of bizarre sacrifice I make. It’s not really necessary I “share my truth”. I don’t feel that inside.

      I do feel my integrity and that’s what I want to retain. But this does not require me to play psychodrama games. Go maturbate, is what I say. What’s wrong with that?

    • Thank you; you have put my own conclusions on this phenomena very well. People seem to be so wedded to their viewpoints and beliefs that they will gladly commit violence on any and all those who do not agree with them. Sadly, it makes an exchange of ideas and honest intelligent arguments a thing of the past.

  2. Please don’t change Elsa! Your individuality and intelligence is what drew me to your site! You have a rare gift and insight into the human condition as well as your gift for astrology. You temper your blog often with humor and compassion and personal experience which is unbelievably rare. Those who are critical have a choice; don’t read and participate! It is my belief that you are a valuable person who contributes so very much to your readers. I have never seen a site such as yours anywhere. God Bless You, Elsa !

  3. You often remind us that you tended bar as a teen girl, and from that experience you learned from the best of ’em: the gal who took you under her wing, the old guys who were your regulars. By that time you’d already been mentored by The Henry Capricorn. I keep showing up at your ‘bar’ because I can’t drink anymore and yet I know the magic of a bartender with the gift. What I love about your place is the stream of stories you tell, and your talent for serving so many different customers. I’m an old gal who needs someone who can angle into my fixed astrology to feed me something different to consider. I don’t always agree with your opinions, but that’s good practice for me. Your bar is overflowing now with those who would pick your brain, I think it’s still going to necessary to know who anchors the ship, again and again. Sail on, Elsa.

  4. I like the truth because I like to work with solid information. It doesn’t have to come from me or agree with what I think already.

    People are so attached to their viewpoints it can be a waste of time to converse with them. I’m not on a frigging debate team where you can beat my argument and win to feel good about yourself.

    People rarely want the truth, they want to feel they are right. They cover their ears and say “la la la” then continue living in a bubble.

    Not worth my time.

  5. Sorry. It sounds like they are sapping your life force by asking, then arguing. When you have precious little life-source to throw around willy-nilly (not like the old days when we’re young and the sparring of opinions was a game that could be played), you start choosing your battles. Someone asks me my “opinion”, I look at them and mentally circle them like a dog sniffing another dog’s butt. Whatcha really after there, young’un? I feel guilty if I decide I don’t want to enter the arena… what if they are really sincere? But I’ve been burned a whole bunch of times. Now if my butt-sniffing tells me they are just spoiling for a fight, I just shrug and say “beats me…. your guess is as good as mine”. They may hate me for not engaging, but it’s better than being hated for my opinion. (And by the way, I think it’s the 8th house/Scorpio influence that makes people ask… they know Scorpionic types see below the surface). And lastly, Elsa, I believe there are a lot of people on your home-grown forum that value your hit-em-between-the-eyes, got-no-time-for-mincing-words opinions. So when you need to really tell it true, there’s always an audience who supports. Yay you………

  6. I for one hope you don’t change! I’ve been here so long it’s kinda embarrassing.

    I have had something similar happen. At my last job my opinion was sought and respected, they even wanted to have shirts made “What Would Tam Do”. At my current job the opposite, I’m an idiot. Good people, but not my people. I really fit in at my old job, I fit in at my current job but it’s different. It’s hard to explain.

  7. I sent this to, Ben, because he’s someone who’s asked to “pick my brain” over the years.

    He told me someone asked him to give a presentation around something he’s highly qualified in. He refused!

    He said he did not care to offer his “resented advice” to people with egos, blind to their own ignorance.

    He recommended the person choose someone else “from the clan”.

    The person was stymied.

    • Been there. What I do now:

      People ask me repeatedly for my opinion, advice at work (VPs) then get angry when I tell them in a sort of bland “I would recommend doing this, but you may have a better idea” and they get mad and argue with me anyway. Then they rush and do why I said, and get rewarded. Then they are even angrier at me. So now i say, “I know what I would do, but I think your position and experience means you’ll have an even better solution.” They walk away frustrated and angry in a different way. But try to suck up more later. I found out last week that my advice saved three people their jobs, so I am mum now.

      Personally — I stay away from all personal advice though for years people treated me like they treat you, like I am their British drama all-knowing governess. Now I say, “you are so smart, I know you know the answer or that it is within you.” Because otherwise today it’s like people are mad they had to ask for advice and mad you supplied it and mad it worked, like it is some sort of….like they are a stumbling super hero. Maybe… we are supported to be lithe sparkling all-knowing yoga-flexible latest-phone newest shoes flawless rich perfect gods, I guess, and so needing advice can mar that image? So….they ask you but need to eliminate you with anger or something? I have four close friends and we can advise each other safely , I’d say for 20 years now; but now that’s it. No one else invited. They’ve told me they feel the same…tired of being smacked after being pressured to give advice they didn’t even feel like giving.

      • And…this is recent, as recent as 5 months, I’d say.

        At work they kept pressuring us to supply thoughts on improving business. No one spoke up, aware of possible backlash. They increased the pressure, then more, then held a sort of balloons-and-food we need you ideas jamboree and MORE pressure! Be open! Share! Whatever you have to say, say it, openness, we are a family, we need every viewpoint!! If you care about the company, you will talk and help us!!!! Over and over. Big emails daily!

        Finally a couple of people very reluctantly (only because they felt they would be getting negative reviews for not supplying an idea) said, “Well things seem okay, but maybe if we tweaked this and this ,it could improve business?”

        They were instantly branded as negative, their valid simple ideas poo-poohed, and they have to attend sessions to work on their “negativity” — LOL. Sales continue to fall. Sadly, I heard about their ideas and they were simple and valid.

        But today…..people are jumpy, every mouth has two sides.

  8. Elsa, are you currently taking more “Ask Elsa’s opinion” questions? I, like the many who have said how much they – we – value your insights (“even when” we don’t think as you do – kinda the point, actually. Otherwise, why ask? Why read?).

    Often, when reading your advice to people who asked you, I’ve been struck, knocked breathless, at the sharpness of your insight.

    Thank you for keeping on, in this project of yours (*ours*, because, it’s so very 8th house). 🙂

  9. I think it’s the Capricorn in you that I love the most. Your Capricorn resonates with my Capricorn. We’ve both survived some serious shit. I adore your fighting spirit. I went toe to toe with a creative writing professor last summer. She confronted me for defending a peer’s story and for saying no trigger warning was necessary. I told her she was facilitating mindless mediocrity. I get pretty hot over anything that smacks of censorship. Brains are supposed to be picked. Well. Good brains are. I leave the other kind alone.

  10. Charlotte, thank you, so very much, for reminding us how gender does indeed factor in! 🙂 Plus you used the non-pc word “lady”! 🙂 🙂 How wonderful of you! 🙂

  11. Dear Elsa, I would my English was much better so that I would give you an answer so as I felt when I read this. PLEASE do not go with that, stay who you are because what you say is from such great value. I think you touch something in people with your blog that they know very wel but it is hidden because of the fast living, everything has to be huge and big. I don’t go there eather and I am gratefull for everything every day. I am so rich in my self and so are you!

  12. Sometimes the problem is not a difference of opinion, it’s that the person disagreeing does it with contempt and disrespect. Not the same thing as being upset just for a differing viewpoint in and of itself.

    • There are legions of people out there who perceive contempt and disrespect from others because they feel contempt and disrespect for themselves.

      • True, but sometimes contempt and disrespect really are coming from the other person too regardless of the asker’s self-perception. Depends on the situation.

  13. If I get that kind of response from any person if I ask for their take on something, that’s someone I know to never ask again. But someone seeing something differently than I do isn’t a problem at all.

  14. When I read all the comments I understand that you are a Capricorn Elsa: only that explains a lot in such a positive way. I am not that long whith you and your blog to know that. I will burn a little light for you to send some joy and some warm energy right away. That is what you gave me several times with your words. Have a good week-end Elsa!

  15. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been feeling like this and wondered if it’s just my own weirdness?! My response is withdrawal…. Which is interesting that your intended response would be to adapt, which my Leo riding and filled up 5th house would never allow.

    Now after you posted this, I’m wondering if it’s a bigger societal thing going on and what it would be, squashing individuality, promoting conformity, …?

    Anyway, and what I really wanted yo say: don’t change!

    • I am going to change! I do not like being left to feel repulsive.

      As I think about this and read the comments, one thing I could do is try to discern if a person really wants my view on things. If they hire me – obviously they do.

      Or recently someone invited me to their house to brainstorm. I knew this person was working on a project I feel is important too. So I went over there to try to help, by being a different mind; an influx of new energy.

      If people email me questions, I also think this is legitimate, or at least I am going to take it that way.

      But there are scenarios where people ask me things as some kind of litmus test or to prove something to themselves. And there are people who want you to join their side of something, or be on their side or whatever.

      I don’t know that these are authentic requests for information or another person’s point of view on something. If this is the case, there is no need, nor does it make sense for me to offer my own authenticity.

  16. I’m tired of the hive mind, to put it bluntly.

    I have Virgo Mercury in the 5th. I want lively, interesting, mentally stimulating discussions. No one seems to be interested in having one!

    Years ago, Big Cap and I got into a slight disagreement over me not wanting to talk to the women at some kind of family gathering. I told him, it’s because all they do is gossip and one up each other. I’m not interested in that garbage. I’d rather watch the football game with you. He never pushed me towards them again!

    I’ve lost touch with more than a few people simply because I told them what they didn’t want to hear. No loss. Blind support without solving the problem is not and never will be my thing,

  17. Thank you, all of you! This was so validating of my experiences with people who ask for my opinions and then prove over and over that they just can’t handle the truth. I’ve lost jobs and ‘friends’ over the years due to insisting on being honest. My Scorpio rising with Jupiter in first house leaves me no choice. Am now glad I did it my way. Pick your battles and discern who to give your energy[advice] to and stay in your own integrity. Elsa, you are a marvel, and so are many of your ‘regulars’. Your blog is a breath of fresh air.

  18. People still say that. Usually at work.

    The internet makes it easier to find your hive and never leave it. So does the Facebook news feed. Things are more tailored to your tastes and views. I think many women ask for their friends opinions like asking if they’re fat and just want reassurance.

    • I don’t know that you’re necessarily telling someone something they don’t want to hear. Speaking for myself, I see some things very clearly, or maybe I have been there and done that, so many times, I just know something to be deeply true. And whatever it is, upsets the person, maybe because they didn’t see it themselves.

      Have I sent the newsletter (or posted on the blog) about the lady who asked me to read the magazines and offer my opinion on them, yet? I know I wrote it.

      She was stunned when I told her what I read in them, because she did not read what I read!

      She was surprised to this extent – she was going to REread the magazines and see if she could perceive what I did.

      I was very clear in what I said (and read). I took notes on this, even.

      This isn’t the best example, outside of I felt repulsive after doing this. I like the woman; I respect her. She’s older than me. So I don’t know…

      My husband thought I should gloss over the situation. I told him, she asked me to do this, I said I would. I owe it to her to give my true opinion. But once I did…ugh.

      So this is what I’m talking about. Recently, I’ve had a slew of people want to, “pick my brain”. And it really has been treacherous, for me, personally, INSIDE.

      So right now, I just want to limit this if possible. I’m just not wanting to disturb people because I don’t like the repulsive feelings I am left with when this happens.

      • I come to your “bar” (to use Mokihana’s metaphor) because I am sick of the chorus, and trying to fight groupthink, while desperately trying not lose myself in a mindless shuffle towards shallow conformity. You have an integrity which shines.

        Hearing your truth, helps me find my own. Even when I disagree with you.

        I don’t know what’s happened with people. We used to be able to disagree without malice. My differing existence was no threat to your own. Now, if I do not think like you think, its war!

        I have my ideas. I’m still refining them. But I really believe that the demotion of Pluto reoriented the culture’s relationship to pain, death, and rebirth. IMO, I think we’ve lost faith in the process which brings forth the phoenix.

  19. I had predicted my friends sister would be married in 2 years. She was married. My friends Mom decided to invite me to the wedding, but out of sheer envy of my friend I was never invited for the wedding. There are people who have got an idea of the horoscopes of their relatives,friends etc. I have not expected anything in return. Astrology is a hobby in which I have a lead.

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