I know, that headline sounds just too good to be true, doesn’t it?
We have an idea so embedded in our consciousness that most of us don’t even realize we believe it; it just seems like the truth. But it is a belief. The belief is this:
The way we feel is dependent upon our circumstances. What happens. What happens to us or others.
I want to crack open that belief and give you access to another way, because I can’t tell you what a revelation it was for me when I cracked it open for myself.
You see, for about as long as I can remember I’ve had this teeeeeeensy-weeeeeeeensy issue called “I can’t trust myself”. There are a lot of reasons for this: my upbringing, things that happened, a pile-up of poor choices…not to mention the cultural conditioning of being a woman in a patriarchal culture. Yes, those are all reasons why I should – and did – just assume that this idea, “I can’t trust myself” is true. Just, plain truth.
Earlier this year I got a glimpse of how it would feel if I trusted myself, like really implicitly trusted myself, and let me tell you, it was delicious. I started to nurse a fierce desire to trust myself. I started to share it with my inner circle. “I just want to feel like I can trust myself!”
And then one day I was voicing this desire to myself, probably for the twenty seven gazillionth in my morning pages (see my previous post about a morning practice – this is one reason why mine is sacred to me) and I heard this quiet voice say, “Try it.”
Blink. Blink. “Try it?”
“Yeah, just try it. Just for one day. Every time you notice yourself starting to distrust yourself, stop. When you notice that you’re distrusting something you said, something you did, how you feel about something, a choice you made, just stop. And say, ‘I choose to trust myself right now in this moment.’ See what happens.”
I thought about that for a minute. What’s the worst that could happen? I probably wasn’t going to make any wildly horrific decisions that day. I probably wasn’t going to irreversibly destroy any relationships. The idea intrigued me so I decided to try it.
I had to stop myself about thirty times that day and repeat the mantra, and two things happened. First, I noticed how distrusting myself had become a habit that infected so many tiny moments in my day, from how much almond milk to put in my coffee to what to wear to which train to take to my appointment to what I said to the casting director in that audition to what to eat for dinner. Goodness gracious, I was exhausted by all the questioning!
Second, I noticed that every time I said, “Just for now I choose to trust myself,” I felt this relaxation in my shoulders and jaw. I felt my heart expand by millimeters. I felt my energy lift.
“Just for now I choose to trust myself.”
Nothing had happened differently in the outside world. The day didn’t even go perfectly. But inside, planet after planet was shifting on its axis. I felt a calm inside me that was positively addicting. So I decided to continue my experiment the next day.
Eight months later my relationship with myself is markedly different than it’s ever been. “I choose to trust myself” has become a mantra embedded in my consciousness. It hasn’t completely edged out the voice of self-doubt and it probably never will, but it has given me a way to identify that voice as just a voice, not the truth, and it’s given me something to say in response whenever the voice pipes up.
Here’s another example: a few years ago I was playing guitar in a show, and near the end I had been given this very tender guitar solo to underscore The Very Sweetly Emotional Cathartic Moment of the show. This solo absolutely terrified me, and even though I practiced and practiced on my own I struggled with it, and early on in performances I screwed it up royally, three shows in a row. The cast was kind and feigned ignorance. I was mortified. I thought I was in for four more months of humiliation. I practiced more and more.
And then one night while I was up there, picking up my guitar and preparing to begin the solo, I took a deep breath and inwardly said, “I can do this.” And I played the solo perfectly.
Over the next several days I observed that every time I questioned my ability to play the solo, I screwed it up. And every time I chose to be confident in my abilities, I played it well.
This was revolutionary. I had flipped my internal law of time: I’d always thought action preceded my feeling about the action, but I was observing that my feeling about the action was preceding – and influencing – the action itself. YOU GUYS I THINK SOME QUANTUM PHYSICIST OUT THERE IS DANCING RIGHT NOW AND SAYING “YES YES YES!”
You get how transformative this is, right?
I always thought feeling was a thing that happened, that I was subject to and had to deal with whenever and however it arose.
But now I’m practicing the art of choosing how I want to feel, and then feeling that way and taking action from the desired feeling.
Is it easy? Not always. Simple, not always easy. Except I gotta tell you, it’s a whole lot easier than you think. It’s a practice, like anything else. If you try to touch your toes every day, you’re eventually going to touch your toes – and likely a whole lot sooner than you think you will.
So I’d like to you to try this experiment with me. Right now, identify a way you’d like to feel. It could be about anything. The audition you have later today. Maybe you’d like to feel confident when you leave that room. So, here’s your mantra: “Just for right now I choose to feel confident about how I do in my audition today.” Choose it before you go in – before you even leave the house, if you can. Every time doubt creeps in just halt it and repeat: “Just for today, just for right this minute, I choose to feel confident about how I do in my audition today.” Maybe you’d like to feel like a badass in your big meeting. “Just for now, I choose to feel like a badass.” Want to have a great date tonight, no matter the outcome? “Just for tonight, I choose to exude sexy flirty fun.” Want to show your mom more compassion than you’ve been able to muster lately? Call her up. “Just for now, I choose to be loving and kind with Mom.”
Nothing horrible will happen if you choose to feel confident about a 120-second or even a 120-minute span of time in your life. I promise. So just play the game. See what happens. Keep going. Report back. I can’t wait to hear.