I could offer you a whole bunch of reasons why you can and should trust your wisdom, why it’s reliable, why it’s “right,” why that know-that-you-know-that-you-know voice within never leads you astray. But I’m guessing you already know all that.
Few of us are unclear that we should trust our wisdom. It’s the doing it that is problematic!
(Or so we fear…)
And our fear is real! We have experiences, stories, memories, and built-in-lessons-learned that have taught us that when we do trust our own wisdom things get hard, misunderstanding reigns, feelings get hurt, relationships struggle if not break, expectations are disrupted, disaster befalls…The list goes on.
I know. Believe me.
Though I have a gazillion stories I could tell, the one that comes to my mind happened 15+ years ago. I was about 18 months post-divorce and decided to try dating again. I met a man. We hit it off. It was fabulous and fun and easy. We laughed all the time. And we talked about everything: our past, our family of origin, our heartbreak(s), our marriage, our divorce, our kids. We also talked about faith. And sadly, those conversations often became heated, argumentative, not fun at all.
Around the same time, I was preparing for the HUGE honor of giving a TEDx Talk. It was about Eve: the way her story has been told throughout time, how it has defined and harmed women for centuries, how it has shaped the world in which we live. And it was about how I wanted Eve’s story to be told — as expansive and rich and beautiful, as model for who women are at their best, their most brilliant, their most wise.
We talked about it once before I gave it (despite the fact that I spent hours and hours and hours preparing — which he would have known about, of course). And we talked about it once after I gave it; I told him what it had felt like for me to be speaking on a stage about my deepest passion; how it was both the most embodied I’d ever felt and, simultaneously, almost an out-of-body experience; how it felt to let Eve’s voice be heard through my own. I remember that he said, “I’m glad.” And that was the end of it.
Until the video was released and made available months later. I was so excited to show it to him, to watch him watch me — certain he would finally understand and finally celebrate; certain this would shift our shut-down conversations about faith from this point forward. He watched the first two minutes, closed his laptop, and we never spoke of it again.
OK. Back to trusting my own wisdom.
I heard my inner wisdom — no doubt about it: This is NOT OK. This is not sustainable. This is not acceptable: not even being honored enough to be curious, to listen, to try and understand. And this is the tip of the iceberg. If we cannot come to even agree-to-disagree terms on this, there’s going to be more down the road that’s going to be even harder. (There was more, but you get the idea…)
We dated for another four years.
Here’s the point (if you haven’t already landed on it): I heard my wisdom early on — and ongoing. But to trust it meant that I would have to a) have even harder conversations and b) be prepared for what that would lead to…ultimately, our end. And I didn’t want to do or experience any of that!
The issue for most of us is not hearing our wisdom, it’s trusting it!
Because to trust it means that hard conversations may have to be had, that things might change, that everything we’re trying to sustain and juggle and keep spinning might come crashing down.
I know. Believe me.
I did eventually end the relationship. It was hard. It was painful. It was heartbreaking. And I trusted myself (and my wisdom) enough to know that there was really no other choice to make. Finally.
If I am going to bear consequences either way, I do NOT want to live with the ones that inevitably come when I compromise, comply, and not trust my wisdom or myself.
I can see, with hindsight and perspective, that my wisdom WAS worth trusting. Every. Single. Time. Not just in this story, but in SO many more.
The risks and costs have not gone away. But (most of) my fears about whether or not I can handle them have. And, in many ways, I now know that the higher the stakes, the greater the perceived consequences, the MORE trustworthy my wisdom actually is!
So, what is the takeaway in all of this for you?
Stated simply, it’s just this: you CAN trust your wisdom. It knows of what it speaks. It is reliable. It is right. It will not lead you astray. And inventorying the inherent risk is EXACTLY what makes your wisdom even more clear, more certain, and more trust-worthy.
No silver bullet. No magic pill. No easy answers. But no less true.