Do YOU trust in YOU? – Richard Brodie

Emerson once wrote about people’s fear of trusting themselves. He saw that so much failure and misery in the world was a result of people failing to trust their own judgment. Yet the ironic thing is:

We are always making our own decisions.

Either that or we make our own indecisions, which often lead to worse consequences than active decisions. In a way, not making a decision is a decision, too.

If we let others decide for us—then we’ve decided to let others decide for us, and that’s also our own decision. And while it’s fine to delegate decisions to others when they have more information or experience than we do, often we simply do it out of habit or out of fear that our own decision wouldn’t be good enough.

Have you ever had a thought or idea but kept it to yourself or not acted on it because you didn’t trust its worthiness? Have you ever then heard the same idea come out of someone else’s mouth and suddenly felt a wave of emotion—justification, gratification, or even humiliation or resentment because you knew it was your idea first? Your ideas are just as good as anyone’s! I’ve heard it said that everybody has at least two million-dollar ideas in a lifetime.

What do you think separates the people who make the million dollars from the rest of us? Action! Those people rely on themselves, trust themselves, and act! The rest of us have plenty of excuses, reasons why we don’t trust ourselves, justifications for not acting—but in the end, we don’t even get the chance to turn those great ideas into reality.

Self-reliance means trusting ourselves to know what’s important, casting aside excuses, and going for it!

Self-reliance does not, of course, mean you have to sit in a room by yourself and never listen to anyone else’s opinion. Although I consider myself self-reliant, much of my success comes from my willingness to learn from others. But there are some perils involved in taking advice, primarily when it comes to the question of whose is worth taking.

Fortunately, I do have some advice for you on the subject of taking advice, which is:

Only take advice from people with lives you like.

If someone gives you advice, and the advice is sincere, you have to assume that following it will help make your life more like theirs. So . . .

· Take advice on relationships from people with good relationships.

· Take advice on investing your money from people who have successfully invested their own money.

· Take advice on how to work effectively from people who work effectively.

Sometimes much more advice is forthcoming from people who don’t fit this criterion than people who do. Be selective! Before I got married, I got lots of advice from single people who said I should wait, back off, be more careful. My married friends just smiled. I remember telling one friend—a highly intelligent, sensitive, caring, but divorced woman of 50—that with all due respect, I would take my advice on how to have relationships that work from people who had relationships that worked! Fortunately, being enlightened, she saw the humor in it.

So don’t just take my advice—even if you imagine I lead an attractive life. Think about it. Make it make sense to you; and if it does, make the advice come from you, not me.

Before I made the decision to trust my own judgment about how to live my life, I searched long and hard for an answer, for someone else to tell me how I should live it. I was hungry for advice, and the more I got, the more confused I became. I tried to be like my role models, to copy the way they acted and talked, because it was clear to me they were powerful, fulfilled people. I copied their actions, but the real secret of their success never occurred to me: in those qualities that I admired and in those areas where they succeeded, they trusted their own judgment.

I saw that they were confident, so I acted confident—but that didn’t get me the fulfillment I saw in them. They really were confident, because they trusted themselves. I saw that they were sure of what they wanted, so I set my sights on the same kinds of things they wanted—but that didn’t get me fulfillment. They really wanted those things, and they knew they wanted them because they trusted themselves.

No matter how perfectly I copied the people I admired and envied, and even if I succeeded in getting the results they got, it didn’t get me the experience of life I wanted. Why? Because I was a different person and I wanted different things. Did I know what I wanted? Not really. But since I didn’t rely on myself to know what was best for me, I didn’t even bother to figure it out.

If you don’t trust yourself to know what’s best for you because you’re afraid you might be wrong, then whom or what do you trust? It’s good to know—they’ll be running your life until you change your mind. They’ll have all your power, and they’ll be the ones to decide whether you do something worthwhile with your life, or whether you simply pace off the minutes from here to the end of the line. And if you don’t feel you are trustworthy—if you’re living your life based on some kind of weighted average of all the advice you’ve been given from kindergarten until now—well, whose decision was it to do that?

It was yours. At least, it’s yours now. If you’ve never thought about this before and therefore never had a chance to make the decision to trust yourself—why not make that decision right now?

You’re always trusting yourself anyway, on some level; the final decision, or lack of one, always comes down to you. Why not cut through the confusion; the distortion; the doubt, resentment, and fear?

Why not trust directly in your own inner sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad, worthwhile and worthless? This is your life. Why not rely on yourself?

There’s something even more valuable about being honest with yourself than the important benefit of knowing where you stand today, and that is the value you get out of trusting yourself.

Wouldn’t it be great to know you could make a commitment to yourself to devote your life to those things that are most important to you, and know you would keep that commitment?

If you want to trust yourself, which is a key part of self-acceptance, you’ve simply got to keep your word with yourself.

This is an edited excerpt from Getting Past OK by Richard Brodie, available at all leading bookstores.

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