Do you trust yourself?
This essay first appeared in my newsletter, The Weekly Pep Talk. If you’d like to subscribe for a big old dose of positivity in your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up here.
This week I had an interesting conversation with one of my coaching clients. We were talking about balance, and about how so often when we’re trying to achieve balance, we feel compelled to create new routines or processes for ourselves.
You know the type of routines I mean. The ones where you commit to going to the gym 3 times a week, preparing your lunch the night before, spending half an hour a day reading and meditating every morning. Maybe you design a new elaborate wardrobe system for yourself, or perhaps you decide to try some new diet or eating plan in your quest for balance.
We craft these routines perfectly, using every anecdote we’ve heard and every magazine article we’ve read in order to put them together. We feel convinced that *this* will be the routine that finally works for us, that this time we’ll achieve that elusive balance once and for all.
And we might stick to the routine perfectly for a week or so, maybe for a month if we’re really stubborn and determined. But then something happens that means we push the routine aside, and suddenly we’re back to square one again, except that now as well as feeling that lack of balance, we’re also carrying a load of shame and guilt on our shoulders because we couldn’t make the routine work.
We convince ourselves that we’re lazy or unmotivated, that there must be something fundamentally wrong with us because we’re unable to commit to these routines that we aspire to. But what if you’re not the problem here? What if those routines aren’t actually the route to balance? What if instead, the key to balance lies in learning to trust ourselves?
This is an idea I’ve been exploring for a little while now. We’ve been taught by society to drown out our intuition and inner voices. We’ve been taught that there’s a blueprint for success and balance. We’ve been made to believe that there’s a magic formula for happiness out there, and that we just need to find the right one for us.
But that just simply isn’t true. We aren’t robots or machines who can be processed or manipulated according to an algorithm. We are messy beautiful glorious vivid living breathing humans, and our needs and desires ebb and flow like a tide drawing in an out of a shore. What works for us one day might not work for us the next. What feels like the most important thing to us one week will be at the bottom of the priority list the next.
You know that. You know that on an intellectual level. You know that your mind and your body already know what they need deep down. But we’ve consumed so many external thoughts and opinions and beliefs that we’re filled with doubt whenever we need to make a decision. We don’t trust ourselves to do what is best for us, and so we remove the decision making out of the process, and create these strict routines instead. We choose to follow the advice of an expert or a journalist or an academic, instead of leaning in and listening to what we really need.
But do you know what? Nobody is as much of an expert on you as you are. Nobody knows what you want or need or desire at any given moment better than you. Nobody has more data or research or evidence about you as you do. You are always the person best equipped to make a decision about yourself, despite the reams of advice and theories that exist out there.
So, instead of trying to hold yourself to some strict routine or process in a quest for balance, why not try and listen to yourself instead? Get used to asking yourself the question “what do I really need right now?”. Learn to trust that your body and mind will give you the right answer, and that sometimes those answers may vary. Trust that deep down, you already know your own magical formula for happiness, and stop believing that somebody else will provide it for you.
You’re unique and lovely and totally one of a kind. Trust that you’re worthy of listening to your own intuition.