In this world, it’s hard to trust yourself.
Sometimes it feels like everyone else knows more about how to live a happy, meaningful life. There’s always a well-intended parent, teacher, spiritual guru, or expert nudging us to discover what they’ve discovered. They did/thought something and their lives turned out beautifully! We want to turn out beautifully, too, so we absorb their messages about how to go about this thing called life.
But I wonder how many of us ask ourselves…is that right for ME? Is it really and truly what I want to experience?
Once in a while, we all reach a decision that forces us to contemplate our own values and how they fit in with the values everyone else tells us we should have. Go to college or not? Take over the family business or not? Move far away or not? Get married, get divorced, have children, pose nude, live in a commune? These decisions force us to look inward and explore what a fulfilling life is for US. After years of implicitly thinking that the answers are outside of us, it can be absolutely terrifying to trust our own internal guidance about what we need and want.
We’ve all been there, crying out: Someone please tell me what to do!
I think it’s especially hard to trust ourselves because we inevitably run into a question we can’t answer. We hit a wall. We don’t know what to do or how to move forward. That’s scares us because OTHER people seem to know what to do. OTHER people seem to have it all together. Everyone else knows the answers! Given this line of reasoning, the only logical conclusion is that there must be something wrong with US. Our fear turns us against ourselves because if we were as capable as we thought, we’d know the answers too.
Spoiler alert…NO ONE HAS ALL THE ANSWERS.
Somehow we’ve bought into this fantasy of what life is supposed to be. We expect rainbows, but no rain. We want to be renegades, but without the risk. We want transformation and awakenings, but no messy meltdowns. We not only expect these things from ourselves, but we inadvertently demand them from everyone else. So we’re all running around frantically trying to look like we’ve figured out the secret to living a life without suffering, failure, loss, disappointment, insecurity, uncertainties, change, and heartbreak.
Inevitably, life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Some painful moment interrupts our fantasy, and we feel like we can’t handle it. We think we’ve failed, that we’re broken or less than because our life doesn’t look the way we think it should. Except we don’t want the OTHERS who have it all together to know that, so we act like everything is fine. We stuff our real selves into whatever package others have deemed most likely to succeed, afraid to trust ourselves.
Here’s the thing. Life is hard, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong. We don’t tell little kids to give up when they fall down while learning to ride a bike. We help them back up and encourage them to keep going. We trust that falling down is part of the process and that they can handle it. We know they have the power to push through.
Resilience is in our bones. We are made to adapt and change and grow. Whatever life throws at us, we can handle. It might not be pretty, but it can be done. I know because I’ve done it on numerous occasions. I believe we can overcome our life’s struggles and experience more joy and love as we move through our pain. But we have to trust that we are stronger than our fears and bigger than our lowest moments.
We have to take back our power.
I believe that our power lies in knowing ourselves. When we are brave enough to stand in our own truth and own our unique, complicated humanity, we become masters of our lives. When we are no longer searching for someone else’s version of perfect, we are free to fill ourselves up with what we truly desire. And we can take our place in the world knowing our inherent worth and contributing what only we can.
We are the only true experts of ourselves. We are the ones who know what makes us light up and what dampens our spirit. We are the ones who know what needs to be healed inside of us, and what special spark we have to share with the world. It may seem like others know what’s best, but if we don’t filter their advice through our own sense of self…it will never take us where WE need to go.
So let’s get to know ourselves – our real selves, not the ones we dress up and show off to others. Let’s embrace life without knowing all the answers, curious and excited to find them along the way. Instead of being afraid to make a mess or take a new direction, let’s reclaim our power and trust that we already have everything we need to live an amazing, fulfilling, and meaningful life.
Because we do.