When my daughter says she wants to play a sport, it’s usually followed by a response like this: “I don’t want to be a team or in a camp. I just want to play. You know, like, on my own, for fun. I can learn the game that way.”
It frustrates me because I know the importance and value of learning a game before just playing around with it. A team provides camaraderie, structure and instruction. Support, guidance and learning how to work with others.
Left to yourself, you’ll play around but you won’t ever be great at the game.
So I find myself in a quandary, wondering how we teach people to trust themselves and their inner wisdom, when we are raised with the very important and wise guidance to turn to authority figures, experts and teachers for guidance.
Over the course of my life, I’ve sought out business coaches and therapists, teachers and spiritual leaders. I’ve consulted friends when in a pinch, asking for advice and guidance.
The other day, though, I had an incredible revelation. While I do not in any way profess to know everything, I realized that I was relying almost entirely on outside voices to guide me in the steps of my life. Why?
Because we are raised to believe someone else has the wisdom.
And while we can and should learn from everyone and everything, that discounts the internal knowing we all have. It’s loud, and powerful, a strong voice that KNOWS. It’s a voice we need to learn to listen to before the age of 44.
I’m not quite sure how to facilitate that, though. We do need to listen to leaders. We need to learn to play the game from those deemed experts.
But after 20-some years of playing the game, I think we could rely on our inner wisdom and experience to get us through and win some points.
I’ve been in business for myself for two decades. That’s a pretty remarkable thing. And while I am not the world’s millionaire, I have supported a family for the better part of that time, I’ve kept clients for years in a row, and I produce good work that makes a difference.
I know something. Me. I’m doing something right.
It’s time to turn inward to work from what I know and listen to the soul messages that speak the truth.
It’s funny. Early on in this part of my career, I let my instincts propel me forward as I created my company. A client once said he thought my idea for a business was stupid, that it wouldn’t go anywhere, and I let it crush me.
A year later, that client apologized and said my instincts were right. But for a year, I sat in turmoil, wondering how I’d ever make it in life.
Why? If I look back, it was a paying client who said that to me. Why didn’t I see the lunacy in such a statement? I mean, why would he pay me if my business talents were worthless?
Why did I let his voice matter more than my own?
The same goes for parenting. For any medium in which you have to make decisions, really.
I have been a mother now for 14 years. While every step is in a way something new, it’s also important to be an instinctive parent. To not flap through the pages of parenting books to find the wisdom from others, but to listen to my soul and let it guide me in my decisions.
I never found it easy or even right to let my babies “cry it out.” It felt cruel. And so I didn’t. I could live with that decision. Part of parenting – part of any authoritative position – is trusting in yourself and your decisions enough to live.
Plenty of people told me I had to force my babies into routines. Let them cry until they fell asleep, insist on a bedtime, get them on a schedule.
It’s just not how I parented. My beautiful daughter got up to nurse in the middle of the night pretty much until she weaned at 2. My little guy got up every night until we moved to this house two years ago, when he was 7, and got into my bed in the dark to finish the night sleeping beside me.
I let this happen. I was fine with it because I believe it was what they needed.
And what has been the result of my gut-instinct parenting approach?
Four pretty remarkable, happy kids who are interesting, confident humans that I feel honored to love. They are good people. They are living good lives. We love spending time together. They will make their mark on the world.
I’m glad I listened to my parenting gut. Now it’s time to listen to my instincts in all realms.
I do know what needs to happen. I can trust myself. And so can you.