“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A knotted stomach. A racing pulse. A situation that isn’t entirely in your control.
Whether stepping into your potential future boss’ door to be interviewed, pitching your idea to a crowd of onlookers or gazing into your future trying to predict which way to go, any similar scenario can understandably provoke even the most confident of us to internally shake just a bit. But what makes the difference between knocking it out of the park and simply getting through any of these scenarios is trusting that we have at that moment everything we need. Whether we possess the ability, the brains, the creativity, the gumption or tenacity to swing big, resides in trusting ourselves.
To merely exist is to waste the opportunity to truly live. We can timidly get by, tip toeing ensuring we avoid make glaring mistakes, but wouldn’t that be the most significant mistake of all?
There will continually be moments of uncertainty. For if we are continuing to grow, evolve, learn and discover, we are experiencing new sites, new venues, new people, and new experiences which expectedly bring unknowns.
The only way to navigate is to trust ourselves. Trust what you know about the person who is on the journey (that would be you!) and then you will know how to proceed.
So how does one do it? How do any of us become better in sync with our inner compass?
1. Get to Know Yourself
While getting to know yourself is a never ending process, it must commence with the conscious decision to pay attention to the knowledge being presented each and every time we feel something, gravitate toward something or become cautious or uncomfortable with something. If we don’t heed or investigate these inclinations, we are denying ourselves an opportunity to live more fully and contentedly. Similar to sitting in class, but daydreaming during the entire lecture, we may be present, but we are not involved and taking advantage of what we can learn.
2. Look for Consistencies
Along the path of getting to know yourself, take time to notice in what situations you are most at ease. In what situations are you most inspired? At first comparison you may not see similarities, but look again and ask yourself what specifically made you feel anxious/inspired/curious/calm? Was it a certain time of day, certain people, lack of or proper amount of respect, particular architecture, motivating, draining, inviting, exclusive, etc. Keep track of your observations, as they are a map helping to direct you down the right path.
3. Ask Why?
Upon discovering the consistencies (the positive and the negative), do a bit of analysis and ask the question “why?”. Why did you feel secure even if others did not? Did it have to do with your knowledge or experience? Why did you feel intimidated? Why did you feel a sense of tranquility?
Discovering the answers to these questions will help you get to know yourself which leads to trusting yourself when it comes to making decisions even when the future you are walking toward is uncertain.
If you can trust that you can handle or feel comfortable in certain situations or visa versa, wouldn’t feel comfortable or be your best self in certain situations, then you are in tune with your inner compass.
4. Reflect on Successes
If even after asking “why?”, you may still have uncertainties. If so, reflect upon previous successes. When was the last time you exceeded what you though you were initially capable of? When was last time you took a risk against others’ caution and demonstrated the risk was worth it? Reflect on such moments to build your confidence and serve as a reminder that you indeed already do have an inner compass that is speaking to you, if only you would listen to it.
5. Assess Mistakes
Now, not everything you reflect on is going to be a roaring success. Mistakes happen. But when they do, the key is to take the time to assess why it didn’t work and move forward with the knowledge.
6. Take a Time Out
In order to become in tune with your inner compass, you must become still every once and awhile. You must quiet yourself, converse with yourself and give yourself time to work through #2-5. If you keep moving blindly from one mistake to the next, you aren’t taking advantage of the knowledge that is available to be absorbed and almost guaranteeing that you will make similar mistakes again.
7. Never Stop Learning
The best and most assured way to gain more self-confidence and bolster your inner compass is to continually become better acquainted with the world we all live in. When you come to understand how the world functions, how it functioned in the past and how people have previously lived, currently live and potentially can live, you put the odds in your favor that the decisions and direction you take are based on knowledge, not simply belief. And that is the difference between standing on quicksand and cement.
8. Find Your Faith
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
But even with all of the knowledge you can gather, there will still be unknowns. After all, each of us is a unique individual with unique circumstances involved with others in the same construct, so in order to move forward, trusting your inner compass, you must fill the unknowns (the gaps, as I like to call them) with your faith. I’m not necessarily talking about religious faith (although it might be for some), but a universal faith that requires you to stride forward with confidence.
9. Take Action
Lastly, with as much knowledge and insights as you can possess at that given moment, strike out in such a fashion that is not timid, but rather assured that you are endeavoring in the direction that is best for you. You have done your homework, you have listened to your previous experiences, you have absorbed all that they have to teach you and you know what life you want to live. Now go forward with a resolute determination that while others may not understand, the most important ingredient is that you do.
”Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”
So long as you stride forward, you can only fall forward. It is when you are timid and leaning back with uncertainty that the winds can easily push you back. So trust yourself, because even if you do trip, the experience you gain will be invaluable and you will have still gained ground despite the awkward misstep.
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