This morning while I was sipping coffee and trying not to think too hard about those 400 meter sprints that were upcoming on the treadmill, I scrolled through my Twitter feed. There, from my friend Ryan was the following tweet:
Holy shit, if I look for approval or advice on one more decision I want to make in my life, I’m going to kick my own ass!
I have no idea what specifically is going on in Ryan’s life to prompt such a tweet but let me just say sometimes wisdom can, indeed, come in 140 characters or less. (After all, the Dalai Lama is on Twitter. Today he reminds us that “Compassion is a true source of happiness.”) I love talking with my friends and asking their input and advice. It’s often how we work in a society where we are not all in solitary confinement. I value what those in my inner circle have to say. Often I go out seeking their advice and, sometimes less overtly, their approval.
While it’s valuable to listen to other people’s opinions, at the end of the day my decisions are my own. I have to trust and value and have confidence in myself and understand that really there is no right or wrong answer. There are only options and the opportunity to choose, again and again. I believe this with my whole heart. And yet the practice of it is more difficult than those 12 400-meter repeats on the treadmill.
How many times do I call, email or text a friend to “vent” but really, if I’m honest, am looking for validation of my feelings, actions, being? How many times do I ask for advice because I want other people’s approval of my actions? Outside validation and and advice isn’t wrong or bad or to be avoided at all costs. It helps to have a friend next to you on the treadmill to affirm, “These are hard today, right?” or a buddy to offer some bit of Dalai Lama wisdom as tears roll down your face during those moments of sadness and confusion. But I know that I can depend on others for approval and advice far too often. The danger of doing that is losing the ability to trust my own gut, which has never steered me wrong (with the possible exception of my nutrition plan for my first marathon). Much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who always had the power to go home (those ruby slippers), I have all I need to make the best decisions for me. Sometimes it’s a bit murky and takes a while before I can clearly see it, but the answer is always there.
How do I get back to trusting myself and avoid the need for approval and advice? This meditation challenge has been helpful along with my newfound yoga practice. Taking time to slow down and avoid multi-tasking has been a bonus, too. Heck, even those 400-meter sprints on the treadmill forced me to focus on what I was doing in the moment and gave me evidence of my own strength and determination along with burning off a bit of emotion that otherwise would prove useless energy. Above all, patience with myself, allowing my thoughts to always come back to my core belief: That I’m good enough as I am and can make some amazing kick-ass decisions all on my own.