Learning Not To Trust Myself
Surely this can’t be the start of an inspirational post that will leave us feeling safe and happy in our knowledge that deep down we know the right path. So many self-help gurus talk about the need to believe in ourselves and trust our gut intuition. I’ve heard from somatic healers, vibrational energy teachers, trauma specialists, and even your vanilla leadership coaches, who have all told me that my body, my heart, and the universe itself is trying to provide me with the answers to the most difficult questions I face. Well, I have been listening and I don’t hear shit…. No, surely this can’t be a feel-good post.
All this listening however has led me to a great sense of contentment. I’ve slowly, over a period of 25 years, learned how I need to make difficult decisions, which almost always end up being the correct call for my life. I stress here that my particular methodology works for me. Like one of those stuntman warnings where kids are reminded not to try this at home, I am not advocating that this is right for you or anyone else.
I start by taking a very left-brain approach to things. After all, this is my (and most likely your) formal training. I list out the pros and cons in a very rational, almost nerd-like way. Then, I add in the emotional side of things. I try to tap into my feelings and that soft gooey centre that inevitably rules my life despite the façade of analytical logic. I combine left and right brain, make an informed and considered decision, and then deliberately do the exact opposite. My family laughs at this point. I do the opposite of what every ounce of my heart, mind, intellect, instinct, gut, big toe and sweat orifices tell me to do. In my case, they are all liars. I love them all intimately but with love comes knowledge and acceptance. Every part of me lies to myself. Just can’t be helped.
To be a bit more accurate, they are not actually lying. But, neither are they answering the question I think I am posing. My instincts tend to try to avoid pain. Inevitably, I manage to convince myself of a particular path because it will most likely be easier. I don’t articulate that as a reason of course. The pros and cons, my gut and those invisible midi-chlorians all provide really good reasoning to turn left. Left makes sense from every angle. So I turn right.
My best analogy for what is really going on here comes from the strength training I do 4 times a week (yes, my muscles are strong underneath their comfy exterior padding). I never had good exercise technique as I would unconsciously squirm and reposition myself so that the muscle I was trying to work was relieved of the stress and tension that would make it stronger. I have now managed to find a gym where the precision equipment locks me into place so that I can’t inadvertently make things easier for myself.
My contrarian decision heuristic has served me well in both business and my personal life. From a commercial perspective, I convinced myself that the time was not right to expand. So we expanded. I once convinced myself that an entrepreneurial idea had real legs and was destined for unicorn glory… so I binned it. At a family level, I convinced myself that my child should finish his engineering degree given he was doing well academically, and it was only a matter of a few years. So, I encouraged him to drop out and chase a dream of being a musician.
I find that my clients often convince themselves of all sorts of things, just as I do. Rarely is it the right call.
I have learned to not trust myself. The more convinced I become, the more I distrust… the more I question what is really at play and what subliminal motives are manipulating me. And then I make a better decision.