I have a confession to make: I totally listen to other peoples’ conversations… on the subway, in a restaurant, on the street… you name it. I don’t do it intentionally. It just happens. I am interested in people, love interpreting body language, and yes, listen to what’s going on in their lives. Hence, my job as a coach.
A couple of days ago, I was on the subway and overheard two girls aged between 27-30 talking about how unhappy they were at their jobs. They talked about cattiness in their office and the fact that they feel totally under-appreciated. Then something interesting happened: They switched to talking about how they wished their lives were different: spend more time outside, make more money, not be stuck behind a computer all day long and so forth. Then they ended the conversation with “I just don’t know what to do.”
It took everything in me to not either slide my business card into their bags or jump in and say “I’m sorry, but I listened to your whole conversation and I just want you to know that you actually do know what to do… you just need a little bit of trust and support.”
The real problem so many of us are facing is that we don’t trust ourselves fully when it comes to making decisions. We repeatedly tell ourselves that “I just don’t know what to do”, “If only I knew what I wanted”, “I just don’t know how to move on from where I currently am.”
In reality, most of us do know what kind of life we want to live. We just don’t think that we can have what we want or that what we want is silly and unrealistic, so we pretend like it’s all just wishful thinking and we don’t actually know anything.
What happens when we don’t fully trust ourselves is that we unconsciously signal to ourselves that we are not reliable and that it is safer to follow someone else’s advice and opinion. We undermine ourselves and worse, we don’t realize that that person’s advice and opinion might be based on a totally different set of values and experiences. We also don’t realize that this person’s ideal future might look completely different from what we want for ourselves, so blindly following their guidance will actually take us further from living our most ideal lives.
As an example, some people need a high degree of structure, order, and daily routine to feel safe and happy in their lives, whereas another person might feel totally claustrophobic because they thrive off of having flexibility and spontaneity in their lives. Do you see what I mean?
The point is that you can only make the best decisions in your life if you trust yourself and if you don’t undermine your own desires. Listening to other people’s advice and opinions is ok, but you have to be the ultimate decision maker. You have to run it through your own set of values and your own desires for you future and your life. Honoring yourself in that way is the first step.
In the comments below, I would love to hear from you:
1) What do you want that you tell yourself you cannot have?
2) What do you need in your life to feel alive, free, and successful that you are not giving to yourself?