We live in a world where we are bombarded by other people’s stories, paths, and opinions. Every other day, for example, we hear about another celebrity who comes out of the closet, leaves their long-term spouse, and finally feels free to live their best life. If you struggle with the gay spike and you don’t have full waters in your well of self-trust, you’ll likely jump on the train of thought that says, “What if this is my story? What if I discover that I’m gay and I have to leave everything?”
But if you can connect to your self-trust you’ll say, “Oh, that’s their story. I’m so glad they were able to honor their true nature. I’ve examined this enough and I know that I orient toward the opposite sex [or the same sex if you’re gay and struggle with sexuality anxiety]. I’ve never been in a relationship with a same sex partner and I’ve never wanted to. Sure, I can find the same sex attractive and can even be sexually aroused by the same sex, but that doesn’t mean I want to be in a same-sex relationship. I know who I am and I trust my choices.”
That’s it. It’s really quite simple.
But it hinges on self-trust.
Likewise, if you struggle with health anxiety and a new symptom pops up, you can either jump on the cancer/MS/tumor/covid train or you can respond from a measured and wise place inside of you that can ask one of the cut-through questions for health anxiety like, “What else could it be?” Accessing that crucial choice-point hinges on recognizing the space between the stimulus (trigger) and response and choosing to act from your inner parent instead of from your scared inner child. In order to do this, we must have full waters in the inner well, which is the definition of self-trust.
But when self-trust is lacking, it only takes one story or one symptom to tumble down the rabbit hole of anxiety, which can then lead to despair.
Because we have access to the stories of practically everyone on the planet as opposed to the finite number of people in the community where we live, accessing self-trust is more essential than ever if we’re going to navigate our increasingly loud, busy and fast lives with any measure of equanimity.
Let’s break this down:
Just because it was Elizabeth Gilbert’s path in Eat, Pray, Love doesn’t mean it’s your path. Just because it was Cheryl Strayed’s path in Wild doesn’t mean it’s your path. Just because it was Glennon Doyle’s path in Untamed doesn’t mean it’s your path. These are all very wise, very gifted women who have chosen to share their stories of leaving marriages and embarking on a path of self-discovery, and they’ve helped many people come closer to their authentic selves. But it’s essential to remember that there are many ways to live a fulfilling, authentic life. There are many ways to eat, pray, and love. There are many ways to be wild and untamed.
When you have enough self-trust you can read these books, or any of the thousands of similar stories that have since exploded into the mainstream, and say, “That’s their path but it doesn’t mean it’s my path.” You can also take what resonates with you from the books and leave the rest. Black-and-white thinking is a hallmark of the anxious mind, which means when you read a book or hear a story about someone who leaves a marriage or has cancer and if the anxious mind is in the driver’s seat, you’ll likely respond with some version of, “What if that’s me?”
Lack of self-trust leads to low waters in the inner well which leads to absorbing other people’s lives, losing touch with your inner direction, and caring too much about what others think. Strong self-trust, on the other hand, allows you to navigate your life and trust your own North star. Self-trust is, in fact, the North star by which you navigate the subtle cues of “yeses” and “nos” that the unconscious, through the vessel of the body, is always communicating to us.
There’s an element of self-trust that comes with age; the longer we live with ourselves the more we know ourselves, and self-knowledge is one of the variables in the self-trust equation. But we can also support the growth of self-trust my examining the various components that led to its erosion. For we are born with self-trust intact. We’re born naturally knowing what we need and trusting our preferences. This star of self-trust still shimmers inside of you, and in order to navigate life without falling into the pit of self-doubt daily you need to be able to access your self-trust easily and regularly.
Can you imagine what it would be like if, when it was time to make any decision from what to eat for dinner to whether to change jobs, you trusted that you would arrive at your own guidepost?
Can you imagine what it would be like not be buffeted by other people’s stories, opinions, and lives – to be able to read a book like Eat, Pray, Love or watch a romantic comedy and feel so solid in your choices that you could enjoy the entertainment without going down the rabbit hole of self-doubt?
Can you imagine if the waters in your inner well were so full that you could easily move past the obstacle of self-doubt that arises when you offer your gifts to the world?
This is what it is to reclaim your self-trust, and this is what I teach in Trust Yourself: A 30-Day Course to Help you Overcome Your Fear of Failure, Caring What Others Think, Perfectionism, Difficulty Making Decisions, and Self-Doubt.The 15th live round will start on Saturday, February 20th, 2021, and I look forward to meeting you there.