You are the expert of your own life. I’ve had thousands of conversations with people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic status’s, genders, etc. from all over the world and country, and I have never met anyone that did not have an “inner expert.” In all my work (with athletes too) it all comes down this one thing…learning to trust our inner expert.
What is our “inner expert”?
Our inner expert is the aspect of ourselves that is absolutely clear on what we feel, think, want, need, value and sense in each and every moment. It’s our personal truth in each moment. Our inner expert validates our current moment experience. The wisdom of our inner expert can be likened to our intuition or gut feeling.
Ancient wisdom and people throughout history have encouraged us to trust (and live from) our inner expert…
Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. -Wilma Rudolph
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. -Henry David Thoreau
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water. -Ray Charles
We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. -Galileo Galilei
POWERFUL STUFF! I know learning to trust our inner expert is not as easy as reading a quote. Trust me it’s taken me over 18 years (and I’m still doing the work) to keep my inner expert sharp.
So what does NOT trusting our inner expert look like? Let’s look at some key examples.
Allowing others to tell you, “You shouldn’t feel that way” which results in questioning your own feelings, thoughts, wants and needs. Often this leads to negative and critical self-talk such as “I’m too needy” “I’m too emotional” “I’m too ____” “Maybe I didn’t do enough” “I must be wrong if everyone else does not feel the same” and so on.
Taking responsibility for other people’s problems including how other people feel about us. Sometimes we comprise our boundaries to take care of other people’s feelings about us – only when they feel good about us, then we will feel good about ourselves.
Constantly questioning our inner experience “Should I feel this way? “Do I have a right to feel this way?”
Allow others to define our experience (beliefs, feelings, emotions), sense of identity, and self-worth. If those people (whom we gave our expert power to) leave then we struggle to know who we are and what we want.
Say “yes” when we really want to say “no” for fear of looking bad or selfish.
Defer wants or needs to others for the sake of people-pleasing or to avoid potential conflict. For example: When a friend asks where you want to eat and you reply “it does not matter, what do you want?” when you really want pizza, but don’t express it for fear that other person will not agree to that, you’ll look selfish and inconsiderate.
Compromise our values for the sake of keeping the peace or people pleasing.
On the flipside, let’s look at ways we can learn to trust our inner expert
Clearly, intentionally and purposefully identifying your key values (respect, compassion, healthy boundaries, community, kindness, education, family, etc.). Key values are the bedrock of all our decisions in life. Then give yourself permission to hold true to those values which are important to you. Our inner expert WILL definitely let us know when a situation or person is starting to impinge on our values. That is the moment to trust and dump (aka not take responsibility for) the person or situation – they or it are not worth compromising your values for. No one is!
Frequently (and kindly) ask yourself “What do I really want, feel and/or need in this moment?” “What is the right thing for me to do?” then give yourself permission to honor what comes up.
Honor your “yes.” Make your “yes’s” reflective of the things you whole-heartedly want to do. Treat your “yes’s” like gold because each one is permission and access to your time, emotions and energy.
Honor what you want from the small (and seemingly insignificant) decisions to the major decisions. This is not a control thing it’s an opportunity for you to practice honoring what you really want, by taking the time to stop and intentionally reflect and act on it.
Honor your personal boundaries. Remember, we teach the world how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. If we do not honor our “yes” or “no” then how can we expect others to do so? So say what you mean and mean what you say. Hold firm to your boundaries- you are worth it!
Here are few ways that can help cultivate awareness of our inner expert:
- Meditation (body scans, progressive muscle relaxation, metta)
- Daily affirmations of self-love, self-acceptance, guidance and self-trust
I could go on and on but I think you get the gist. I want to challenge you to replace “follow your passion” with “follow your inner expert” or better yet, “allow your inner expert to guide you.” If we stay true to our inner expert in each moment, I guarantee it will lead you toward your purpose or that next step in life. It will guide you to the people, places and situations that uniquely suit YOU to be of service or purpose.
My inner expert has guided me outside of my comfort zone for most of my early life. It has led me to move from Michigan to Washington D.C. to South Florida to Kansas to California. Mind you when I started my undergraduate education in 1998 in Michigan I had no idea where I would be in the next 18 years. If you gave me a crystal ball and showed me today, I would have told you – “You got the wrong girl! That’s not my life.” BUT, slowly and surely in the course of those 18 years have I learned to trust my inner expert. I learned to validate myself, trust myself and my strengths and capabilities. I learned to follow where my inner expert lead me one. step. at. a. time.
I’m going to be honest with you; it has been a long journey for me to learn to trust my inner expert. For many years I allowed others to be my expert. I allowed others to define me because I was scared I wouldn’t be accepted or that I would be rejected. I was scared that people would not accept my inner expert and therefore judge me. I was scared my inner expert would lead me wrong and therefore I didn’t trust myself. So, trust me people I’ve been there and done that. I have worked to the point in my life where I can finally embrace and accept that part of my journey. I’m glad it took all those experiences because if not for them then I wouldn’t know what trusting my inner expert should really feel like. That’s the beauty of our inner expert, it is the one true and constant thing that will always have your back and never lead you wrong. Our inner expert is connected to our souls calling…honor it and be open to the adventure that it is to come.
Keep shining amazing people!