Jun 26- Preparing for 36

Meditation: Calm, Relationship with Self Series: Self-Trust
Length: 10 minutes
Where: Bedroom, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Validating
Who Joined Me: Tigre

Sometimes, things line up perfectly in life.

I was searching for a new meditation series last night, and thought the “Relationship with Self” series looked interesting. I’m coming up on my birthday, and I tend to get very introspective during this time. What have I learned? What wisdom have I gained? What have I accomplished? What am I most proud of? Where could I do better? What do I want the next year to bring?

That kind of stuff.

So, this series caught my eye. The titles are things like “Failure,” “Risk,” “Worthiness,” “Perfectionism,” etc. Big topics! Perfect for a woman in her mid-30s taking stock of life so far and getting clear on what’s next. Right?

Here’s the meant-to-be part: I counted out the sessions and realized that as long as I don’t skip any days, this series will lead me right up to my birthday! I’ll finish the last one the day before, then on my actual birthday I’ll leave for Vegas and leave the heavy mental lifting behind for a few days! Just let it integrate, you know? Closing out my 35th year strong.

One thing I haven’t been doing this year is journaling, which I should probably try to do at least a little more. Writing daily in this blog has taken my journal’s place, to be honest. I write out what’s happening, what I’m feeling quite often, things I’m going through. It’s pretty helpful! I always knew this blog would be less of a thrilling read and more of a place to catalog my meditations and muse about life a bit. I’m not necessarily dropping anything huge and wise, generally, but it’s helping me stay on track and keep in touch with how I’m feeling and doing, which is such a gift.

Yesterday’s meditation was called “Self-trust.” I either did this session or one like it at some point along the way, because I remember feeling as I do now: grateful that I’ve always been able to trust myself. Perhaps a better, or at least more accurate, way of saying it would be to say I’ve just had to learn to trust myself. I’ve had to figure out a lot of the world on my own, and I haven’t had a lot of people I can rely on steadily for good advice, so I’ve learned to make the best choices I can each step of the way. I don’t always make the right one, and I don’t always figure things out fully or in time, but I’ve always done my best. Considering how much I was left to my own mind, I’m incredibly proud of how I’ve done in life. I’ve followed my gut, my heart, and my logic to the best of my abilities (not always in that order), and so far it’s delivered more than I’ve ever dreamed.

Okay, not more, because I dream big, but let’s just say I’m living a life I’m unbelievably grateful for every single day.

My meditation partner last night- so much purring!

Growing up, a lot of my identity was being a big sister, which often put me into more of a parenting role. When you’re in that position with people relying on you, you have a choice. Figure out a lot of stuff as you go so you can help guide those coming behind you, or give up and let them flail about like you’ve had to. The second option didn’t work for me. I was determined to understand the world, daily life, people, healing, why things happen the way they do, what was possible- whatever I could, so I could pass it on to my siblings and make their paths a little easier.

This was like boot camp for self-trust. No one else you can fully rely on? You’d better be able to answer yourself and feel good about what that answer is. I had a lot of negative space to fill in. Looking at my parents and a lot of the “role models” around me, I knew what I didn’t want life to look or feel like. I saw a few things I loved and knew I would hold on to, but, mostly, I knew the directions I should not go. I didn’t necessarily know the steps to take to do that, or how to fill in the rest…. but I figured it out.

I’m still figuring it out. Always.

But, the fact is, I do trust myself. I love that I have a support system now and so many people I can trust to ask for input, but at the end of the day, I know the answer. I trust myself to take the next step. I can collect information and opinions, and know what to do with them. I have a sharp eye for what makes sense and what might be fear-based advice, or biased opinions. I’m pretty good, in short, at sorting out the BS and getting down to the facts of a thing.

I don’t wish a hard life on anyone, but if you have challenges and you’re paying attention, you do cultivate skills that you wouldn’t have had the chance to learn if you weren’t being sharpened by adversity. Every hard thing I’ve ever gone through has given me another round of helpful life tools. It’s a huge gift, when you look at it that way.

I question myself, of course. All the time. That’s the only way to make decisions that are strong enough to give you confidence in your future decisions. I just question myself before I decide, and not really after. I take a moment. I collect evidence, facts, opinions. I reflect on all of it. Then I make a choice, and I make it with my whole heart and mind. I know that there isn’t a “right” choice in life, usually, but there is almost always a “best” choice. Best for you, best for everyone involved, or sometimes just best for the long run. I trust the choices I make, and because I’ve been thoughtful and learned to listen to my inner voice, they tend to work out.

I think the only way to learn to trust yourself is to just start doing it, honestly. I had to start super young, so it’s second nature by now. If you struggle with this, I encourage you to get still and quiet and listen to your gut, your heart. Ask yourself how you really feel, and don’t complicate the answer with a bunch of “supposed to”s and “what will people think”s. Try to find people who know you well and love you and ask their opinions if you like, but if you don’t have that right now, don’t worry. The more you get in touch with your true self, the more of those people you will naturally find.

Believe that you know what you need better than anyone else does. How could another person know your heart, mind, soul, dreams, desires, or gut better than you? Find the voices in your head that make you question yourself and investigate each one. Whose voice is that? Is it a group of voices? Is it a parent, or a partner, or society? Are you feeling doubt because you’re insecure and don’t want to fail, or because you’re noticing a red flag? What do you really need? What do you really want?

The fact is, too many of us put our happiness aside for too long (or for our whole lives) because we are convinced we should. We don’t take risks, fearing failure. We don’t do the things our soul longs to do, fearing we may seem selfish. We don’t make a decision at all sometimes, fearing shame if it’s the wrong one, preventing us from moving forward in life.

Practice, practice, practice. Pick a small thing. Practice scanning yourself and really listening to the response. Slow down. Try to be mindful of small decisions and notice that you are capable of making them, then make bigger ones. Take “safe” risks until you can take the ones you really want to take. Visualize yourself really, really happy, and imagine what that life looks like, then take one small step closer to that image.

This is something I believe in so much, especially for women. We are often taught to doubt ourselves and our own minds. While men can feel that way, too, generally they are encouraged to swing big, to prioritize their goals, to go for the promotion or the raise or whatever will make them feel good. Women are taught more often to prioritize others, to care for the people around us first and put ourselves last, to question ourselves and be more cautious. We are often made to feel “dumb” by men who speak down to us or who don’t take our opinions or ideas seriously.

We need and deserve to learn to trust ourselves more.

As the saying goes, “Lord, give me the confidence of a mediocre White man.”

Of course, people of all kinds struggle with this, and blind swinging isn’t always self-trust; it can also be bad decision making. We are all served by listening to ourselves more, taking more quiet space, getting more mindful about why we do what we do. The people around us benefit, too, and we can even help them on their own self-trust journeys, which is a huge motivation for me.

Ok, this was long. I told you… I get really introspective around my birthday! You were warned!