This is quite possibly the most important, and challenging lesson I have ever learned, and one that I will likely have to relearn over and over for the rest of my life. Up to this point, what I’ve come to realize is that it’s not a question of whether or not I can trust myself but of whether or not I am able or willing to listen to what my intuition is telling me.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with countless incredible people who have been my teachers and my mirrors. For most of my career I’ve worked with survivors of domestic violence as a victim’s advocate at a Safehouse. I’ve had the privilege to sit with these women, and a few men, as they process through the events that brought them to seek the protection of a safehouse. During these conversations I have heard over and over some version of the statement “I’m not even sure how I got here, how can I ever trust myself again after getting myself into this mess?” I remember clearly the moment I realized that this was the wrong question for them to be asking themselves and offered up another… “Was there a moment, even just one, when you had a strong gut feeling that something was wrong but you talked yourself out of that feeling?”
Each time as the question seeps in it’s as if a small amount of clarity bubbles up as a specific memory floods back to them. Truthfully, I have never had someone reply “no, I never had a feeling something was wrong”. I then ask them to remember the things they said to themselves to justify, talk themselves out of, or down play the intuitive knowing that told them something wasn’t quite right. I ask them to consider the circumstances at that time. What were their fears, their hopes, how were they being influenced by family, friends, society, or the abusive partner themselves that further defended against this feeling?
I want to be clear that the point of these question is never to shame anyone, nor are they meant to be fuel for us to berate ourselves further for choices we wish we had made differently, but rather are meant to offer insight. If we can grasp the reasons we argue with and ignore our intuition when it speaks to us, the act of recognizing these reasons will in turn dissipate the power these misguided influences have on us, and our decisions. Simultaneously, this insight challenges a limiting belief we often find ourselves attached to when regretting something in our lives, the belief that we cannot trust ourselves.
I used the example of regretting staying with an abusive partner as an example because my clients at the safehouse have been my most influential teaches of this crucial life lesson. However, regardless of the situation…moving in with the wrong roommates, accepting a job that makes you miserable, turning down an opportunity you wish you hadn’t, etc., the questions remain the same:
- Was there a moment, even just one, when you had a strong gut feeling that something was wrong (or right) but you talked yourself out of that feeling?
- What do you remember was happening in that moment? What brought on the feeling you talked yourself out of?
- What were the things you said to yourself to justify, talk yourself out of, or down play the intuitive knowing of what was truly right for you?
- Examples: “You are overreacting, it wasn’t that bad”, “you are crazy to turn down this opportunity”, “you will lose ________ if you do this”, etc.
- What were your life circumstances at that time?
- How old were you? What were your life experiences up to that point? Where you a mom, a student, struggling financially, feeling alone, feeling like you had no other choice, etc.?
- What were your fears, hopes, how were you being influenced by family, friends, a partner, and society, that further defended against the feeling that something was or wasn’t right for you? What were the people in your life saying to justify, talk you out of or down play your feeling?
- Who were the voices in your head at the time? Whose opinion was very important to you? Why? (These outside influences are often well meaning but may not have truly known what was best for you. What biases may have influenced them?)
*I invite you to think of at least three times in your life that in hindsight you wish you had made a different decision and ask yourself these questions and I’d love to hear what comes up for you!*
Asking myself these questions has created a huge shift in my life. It has been healing for me to realize that it’s not that I can’t trust myself, it’s that I should have listened. No only do I ask these questions when I look at past decisions and notice guilt or regret creeping in, I also ask myself these same questions in the present tense when feeling conflicted or confused about a choice I am faced with.
We cannot with 100% accuracy predict what could have happened had we made a different choice and it’s vitally important not to dwell but to instead use the past as our teacher and allow it to provide us with evidence that yes, we can and should trust ourselves. And very importantly, if we can understand the reasons we have in the past been unable or unwilling to listen to ourselves, we can make conscious shifts in our lives so that the external voices no longer drown out the intuitive voice within.
My name is Caitlin Bosshart and I am a life coach in Fort Collins, Colorado but coach people all over the U.S. by phone.
When people I work with are faced with a big decision or in the midst of huge life transition it is not uncommon for them to question themselves. It can feel impossible to ignore the nagging memories of all of the times they ended up in less than ideal situations. The times they made a choice that is now considered to be mistake. If you feel that you have quite the rap sheet of bad choices, making decisions now can feel incredibly anxiety producing. I get it, I’ve been there!
As your coach I can help you to walk through these questions on a deeper level and get intimately in touch with the ways that your intuition uniquely communicates with you. Together we will examine the external influences in your life that may not be serving you and I will give you the tools to know how to move forward towards what is best for you even when these influences are still in your life.
For more information about setting up a free consultation call, please visit by site caitlinbosshart.com. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Until next time, all my best,