Trusting Your Inner Self
One of the areas I especially like to work on with people is confidence building. It has always been a challenge in my life which means I know what it is like. Self-doubt and fear have not gone, I just give them a diminishing space in which to live. I now have many experiences of things turning out just fine, or me being just fine even when they don't.
Something I find is that when we repeatedly look to others to tell us what is what, or for reassurance, our confidence diminishes. The locus of control is external not internal, and with the best will in the world, no one knows what is best for you in any moment better than yourself. It is fine to consult or check in with friends, lovers, family, colleagues, but the buck stops in your own body, It is there we can learn to tune into and trust most accurately.
Lies, truths and stress
When we want to know whether a person is on the right track, or even truthful, the tendency is to look to them for clues about their reliability. This leads to stress and confusion as signs can be quite variable, For example, if they intend to mislead; if they don't really understand you and your needs, or they have pressures on them which conflict with attending fully to you.
I have seen perfectly normal healthy people, over time, lose all self-confidence when they want someone to tell them what they hope is true; or look to a liar to be honest; or want someone else to make their decisions rather than taking responsibility themselves. I have to be vigilant when I am tempted to put my wobbly opinion in the background in favour of someone else's who has a different investment in the outcome to me. That includes loved ones and loving ones. We need to look closer within rather than out.
Three Minute Awareness
Think: does what the person (you are speaking with) say make sense, is it reasonable?
Feel: how do you feel about this person and what they are saying? The more attached you are to them or what they say, the more you want them to be right or honest. The result is you may be particularly susceptible to being lead away from your felt sense of rightness. So start to question yourself, not them, by giving value to your felt experience.
Listen to yourself: If you are asking another for reassurance, you are asking for a specific answer, not an honest one. You are asking for confirmation, not seeking truth.
Listen to your body: how is your belly, your breathing, your shoulders, your tension levels generally? What is your body trying to tell you through its level of comfort or discomfort? How okay are you in this moment?
Check deeply: Breathe into your lower abdomen and gather your attention there. Mentally and emotionally step back from the stuff of life and get yourself into the present moment, then ask yourself what you deeply know. This means what you can't necessarily explain or put your finger on but your sense about it is clearly there. Simply acknowledge your knowing. Bringing your attention out again to your full sense of self, how do you feel now? Regular practice of mindfulness helps, even a short technique like this version of the 'three minute awareness' exercise I have described.
By allowing yourself access to your inner wisdom in this way, you may not get the answer you want, but you will be calmer and more centred. What you look at straight in the face can't creep up on you from behind and that allows confidence to develop.
With this method, I have helped many people to reduce anxiety, improve confidence and learn to trust their instinctual and higher knowledge. Our subconscious is hundreds of times bigger than our conscious mind. It may take a little practice to realise the strength of it, though for most people they start to realise immediately how they go with the error or reassurance as they don't want to face the reality. They also begin to realise that the signs were there for them, they just put them to one side.
Unpleasant as the truth of a situation can be, if you know or suspect it, you then have choices about how to respond to it. If you deny or suppress it, you leave yourself powerless. That is when you give other people, however good their spirit, power over you. That is when confidence really slips away.
Looking back at my life and the reassurance I have sought from others, and the errors, even lies, I have fallen for, the signs were always there in my own body. I simply chose to overlook them until they caused too much disruption for me to ignore anymore. Now when I get a niggle, I listen, pay attention, watch and wait. I accept it as part of me and that it reflects my needs. I talk with and consult others, but I aim to trust my body first.
What about you? What is rattling your cage right now and are you listening?
Copyright Cathy Towers 2015
Cathy Towers is a BACP Senior Accredited Practitioner. She runs workshops and classes on self-development and meditation/mindfulness.