Do you seek out help with your life’s challenges? Perhaps you seek out career or business mentors? Or devour personal development tools to help you navigate your work and/or life problems – the latest self-help books, podcasts, classes, courses etc.?
If so, that’s fantastic. Taking in advice, teachings, and guidance from others can help us learn, and reach our personal and professional goals. But, as I have experienced myself and seen in others, we can take things too far. We can begin to subtly abdicate our own authority over our life, career and business decisions to these external influences.
When you do this, you set yourself up to feel as though you need the input of others to be able to navigate your decisions, you can find yourself exhausted constantly searching for answers outside of yourself, and you run the risk of not making the best decisions for you. In listening so closely to others you can subjugate your intuition and inner knowing and make decisions that you wouldn’t otherwise and don’t serve you.
What we’re doing in looking for help is looking for guidance on the right path to take, but there is really no “right” path other than the right path for you. And only you have access to what that is for you. You are the ultimate authority – on your life, on your career, or on your business.
The guidance of others can be extremely valuable, but amongst the sea of input, your own voice, your viewpoint, how you think and feel is going to be the best resource in arriving at decisions and/or finding the path that is right for you. Perhaps one of the most important skills in life is to learn to sift through all external instruction, deeply listen to you and arrive at your own conclusions.
To begin to honor yourself as the ultimate authority, you will need to do begin to shift the way you move through the world. Here are some pointers on how to take back your power.
Develop deep trust in your own ability to make decisions. Trust your own wisdom.
We are habitually oriented around what others imply or instruct us to do. Many of us, for much our lives, have followed a lot of external instruction – often a lot of “shoulds” – to get us where we are now. So it’s become second nature to be more externally than internally referenced and look to others to help us find our way.
So, part of this is habit. But, we also tend to feel safer when we are following directions. We often don’t trust our own judgments and it feels safer to follow something outside of us. We can find ourselves mentally referencing the directives of those we have made into an authority to help us navigate our decisions and we feel safer when we follow their instructions.
To not have an external authority give us direction can feel scary and disorienting. And we can have the fear accompanied realization that we are alone in our decision making. However, there are two things to keep in mind:
First, see how listening to external instruction and ignoring our your inner voice, has often resulted in things not working out the way you had hoped.
Have you ever taken advice from someone, be it a mentor, business consultant or maybe even a personal development figure you follow, that didn’t really seem right to you at the time, but you figured they knew best? Only to later have things not work out the way you had hoped and find your inner voice was right all along?
I’m sure you can think of many times you took the direction of others – perhaps listened to societal “shoulds” or followed what others were telling you was the “right” thing – when at the same time you had a questioning inner voice. And perhaps you found yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in.
What we think is the “safe” and “right” path, if we’re not deeply listening to ourselves and valuing our own judgment, can take us astray. And these instances are strong evidence that you do know what to do, you actually have a lot of inner wisdom about what’s right for you. You just need to listen to and trust it more.
Second, see how it’s really been you navigating your life all along.
Not having another voice to instruct you can make you feel alone. But in reality, see how you were always standing on your own in your life anyway. The others that you have been looking to for guidance are not in and living your life. They’ve given you some pointers, but ultimately it’s always only been you in the nitty-gritty navigating your way. You really do have all you need inside of you. And arguably, when you really own this and value your own judgment more, making better decisions for you, you’ll thrive. The shift to make is really one if perception; that you need the external guidance. You really don’t. Step into your power.
Get over the imposter syndrome of being in charge of our own life (!)
In the absence of external instruction, we can feel some form of imposter syndrome over being in charge of our own life (!) . We might think to ourselves, “Who am I to make these decisions? I don’t know what I’m doing.”
But the real question to ask is, “Who is someone else to make these decisions for me?” How is it possible they have more access to the decision/path that is right for me?”
Those you are looking to guide you might have a bit more experience than you in navigating the steps you also want to take, but their way is just one of many, so their advice is really just a data point, a suggestion for you to take in. And it’s my experience that the more you look behind the curtain of those you are making into an authority figure you’ll see that everyone is just human with imperfect information and we’re all trying our best to make sense of the world and navigate our way through life. You really are an equal with just as valuable insights as those you are looking to for help.
No one has THE answer. No one can say their way is the only way or the way that will result in what you want with any certainty. There are so many potentials, so many possible paths to the outcome you want. And the truth is that your best chance at getting it is likely listening to you.
Additional reminders to help you step into your own authority:
Get clarity on your fears – What’s the worst thing that can happen by listening to yourself? See how it may be unlikely to happen and if it did you would be able to handle it.
Practice working with the information you have and stop the analysis paralysis – The only thing you can do is moment-to-moment listen to what you want to do given the set of information available to you right now. You don’t need to constantly chase down more information and engage in overanalysis. Practice trusting your judgments and trust that whatever results from your decision you will also be able to navigate calmly in the same way.
If you do seek help, find those who will help you find your own answers– Be wary of those who wish to prescribe with self-righteousness or conviction. Seek out those who will help you sort through the external inputs and find your truth. Personally, as a career coach, this is how I see my role.
Keep the external voices in their place – Watch your mind and become more conscious of when you are referencing the input of another to help you make decisions. It’s fine to take that input in, but focus on what feels right to you. At the very least, hold your own voice an equal amongst the others.
See how exciting it can be to listen to you – While I get that it’s can be scary to just listen to you, it can also be extremely exhilarating. Pause for a minute and feel into just how nice it would be to not have to constantly scan your mind for external directives of what to do, how to think and how to solve your problems. True freedom.