great read: “I Don’t Know What’s Best for You”

These are not my feet. I am not on vacation.
These are not my feet. I am not on vacation.

Courtney Carver of the minimalist blog Be More With Less recently had a lovely post titled “I Don’t Know What’s Best for You.” It really struck a chord.

I (like a lot of people, I’m guessing) was not taught to trust my own judgment or intuition as a child. Growing up in a hyper-conservative Christian environment, my gut instincts were “bad” and “sinful” and could not be trusted. Thankfully, there were plenty of straight white dudes I was taught to trust instead: my pastor, the principal at my evangelical Christian school, my dad, etc.

This mindset of “other people know what’s best for you” followed me well into adulthood. To some extent, that’s necessary–I wouldn’t presume to know more about my car than an actual mechanic, or try to DIY a colonoscopy. But I shouldn’t be afraid to question the experts, especially if my gut says they’re wrong.

Relying on authority figures to tell me how to live my life–from therapists to the woman who cuts my hair–just isn’t so helpful anymore. It’s a crutch. It became a habit born out of the discomfort of indecision and ambiguity. It’s really hard not to know the answer, not to know what to do next, to feel out of control and lost and alone. Solution? Find someone to tell me how to live my life! (No wonder cults are so appealing.)

That’s why Courtney Carver’s post was so freaking refreshing. SO RARELY do people actually say “I don’t know what you should do. Trust your gut. What do YOU think you should do?” I’m totally guilty of this–I’ve been more than happy to dish out unsolicited advice about just about anything. (Working on it.)

Instead of rushing to find someone to tell me what to do, hopefully I can do things like take time for meditation/mindfulness, or journal, or just give myself permission not to make a decision yet. It’s OK to not know the answer or next step. Hopefully, in time, it will come. ❤

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4 thoughts on “great read: “I Don’t Know What’s Best for You”

  1. Véronique

    I was brought up with very similar ideas, except in a Catholic context. It took me a long time and reading a book called Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio before I realized that the best decisions I had made in life were from my heart, and that thus far I had made many poor decisions. Head is always there to keep heart from being rash, but I never stayed with a decision what was made more from my head than my heart. At the time I had a difficult decision to make. I knew what I had to do not only because the idea of doing it brought me joy but also because the idea of *not* doing it filled me with dread. Not all decisions are that clear-cut, but that’s what works—for me. 🙂 Gut check. What feels good? What hurts? What feels meh?

    (Shared that blog post on Twitter.)

    1. Holly Richmond

      Ugh yes! Me too–most of my youthful “head” decisions weren’t very good. (In college, for instance, I majored in psychology instead of English because it seemed more practical. Sigh!) Love this: “I knew what I had to do not only because the idea of doing it brought me joy but also because the idea of *not* doing it filled me with dread.” Exactly!!! I’m gonna check out that book from the library 🙂

      1. V-diz

        Dunno if Damasio will do it for you, but you can check it out. As a writer, he’s a good psychologist, but it was the ideas the intrigued me.

  2. Lanette Smith

    This is such an awesome truth and epiphany when we integrate external authority with internal authority!!! Learning to trust our own intuition can be scary, but I think what’s scarier is never trying…hooray from the inside-out for this journey in all of us, wherever we find ourselves…

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