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Many years ago as I was doing my own Trust Yourself work my therapist shared this life changing illustration for me.
This is the story of 2 children Anne and Amanda and their experience with a snake.
Amanda has 2 loving parents. They are VERY busy people. They love Amanda but they have a lot going on. For many many reasons they are just distracted parents. One day Amanda walks onto the screened in porch where she has many of her toys and see’s a snake. Amanda screams and immediately runs to the kitchen to tell her mother. Amanda’s mother is on the phone for work and doesn’t have time to deal with Amanda. She puts her call on hold briefly and Amanda tells her about the snake and her fears. Amanda’s mother, dismisses her and tells her to go back on the porch and play they don’t have a problem with snakes and she is sure everything is fine and Amanda is just overreacting. So, Amanda heads back out to the porch and keeps playing even though the snake is there. (Wisely she moves to the other side of the porch.) Moral of the story. Amanda see’s something alarming…she gets scared..she shares her fear and her thoughts, feelings and needs are dismissed. This happens frequently enough that Amanda learns that her thoughts, feelings and needs aren’t valid. She learns to look externally for guidance and support rather than trusting her instincts.
Now let’s visit Anne. Anne has 2 loving parents who are also trying to raise their child the best they can. One day Anne walks onto the screened in porch where she has many of her toys and see’s a snake. Anne screams and immediately runs to the kitchen to tell her mother. Anne’s mother acknowledges her, hugs her and thanks her for telling her about the snake. Anne’s mother then removes the snake from the back porch. Moral of the story. Anne see’s something alarming…she gets scared…she shares her fear and her thoughts, feelings and needs are supported. Anne learns to trust her self. She learns to share her fears and they will be acknowledge and heard.
Fill in snake with any fear, shame or doubt we had as a child and the more those were ignored, or we were taught to believe something else….the less likely we are to truly trust our instincts. Amanda learned at an early age that she can’t trust her instincts and that she should listen to other people as to what she should think, trust and believe. Anne learned at an early age that she can trust her instincts and her innate wisdom. Very different experiences….very different lives.
So how does not trusting yourself to show up in your adult life?
I asked some of the women I work with on Trusting Themselves to describe their lives before they started their work…maybe you can relate:
One of the favorite parts about yourself is your soft, gentle heart. Your kindness and compassion for other is a double edge sword. Kindness and compassion come easy to you. But sometimes you wish you didn’t get taken advantage of quite so often. Finding the balance between caring and over caring has always been a challenge.
You TRY so hard to do it right, be the good girl and at the end of the day you wonder why.
On the outside you appear strong, confidant, people love you yet, you feel like no one really knows you. Your life may be filled with activities…but most of them you don’t want to attend.
If you are honest, you do a lot of activities out of obligation, saying yes is just easier and it doesn’t piss as many people off. AND it leaves you exhausted (and if you are honest…a little bitter)
Angst, anxiety, overanalyzing is a way of life…you have a love hate relationship with it…on one hand it is exhausting but on the other hand it keeps you on task and accountable. Where would you be without your inner critic?
The question, “Is this all there is?” keeps you up at night. You don’t want MAJOR changes you just want to feel more content, more at peace, more accepting of yourself and life.
Here’s the thing…you are amazing! Your strong empathy and innate compassion make you a gifted, emotionally intelligent soul. AND you need to learn how to put yourself first and trust your instincts.
Here are some of my favorite posts on Trusting Yourself: