Learning to trust myself

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Learning to trust me, my intuition, my feelings, and the “voice within” has been and will continue to be a lifelong journey.  In her book, “Trust” author Iyanla Vanzant writes, “Self-trust is deep soul work and a spiritual tool and spiritual process.”

When we are not taught to respect and honor our thoughts and experiences as young children, we grow up doubting ourselves which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. For much of my life, I felt inadequate even though I had gone back to school in my forties to obtain a master’s degree and had a great job that I loved and excelled at.

As children, we learned to rely on and trust someone or something “outside of ourselves” to keep us feeling safe and secure. As adults when external validation is more important than self-affirmation, we cannot trust ourselves.

I was not taught to “go within” for my answers. It was very confusing trying to make a decision and asking different people for their opinions. I didn’t trust my problem-solving skills, probably because I didn’t have any. I thought other people knew better for me than I did for myself.

I remember years ago when I started my recovery and entered therapy to heal childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse, my feelings were frozen. Feelings were not a part of my equation, especially anger.

 If I was struggling with something, I would ask my friends, “Would you feel this way if this happened to you?” I didn’t trust myself or my feelings. The number one reason we don’t trust ourselves is that we were taught that what we were feeling is not really what we were feeling. For example, I heard, “I will give you something to cry about.” My brother heard, “boys don’t cry.”

The unspoken rules in a dysfunctional family are: Don’t trust, Don’t feel, and Don’t talk about it. There was an elephant in the living room, but our parents said, “there is no elephant here.” The elephant could be anything; divorce, sickness, mental illness, finances, etc.

I have learned that the more I trust myself, the more I hear God. Self-trust is knowing and believing in my value, self-worth, capabilities, and the confidence and ability to co-create with God.  I hear the voice of Spirit within, my higher self, my soul’s voice. I ask for guidance and direction all the time. I have learned to listen to my inner voice and act on it, even when it doesn’t make sense, especially when it doesn’t make sense. My head says one thing, “This is impossible or you are crazy?  My heart says go for it, step out in faith, trust the Universe.” That doesn’t mean I don’t ask others I trust for their input when I’m struggling with something. But the bottom line is I trust my answers are within.

People have asked me, “How do you know when it’s Spirit’s voice, your voice or when it’s the voice of ego?” The small, still voice of God within feels like my voice in my head. It is a quiet, peaceful, loving voice that I have learned to recognize after decades of listening and discerning. The voice of the ego is usually fearful, guilty, and judgmental.

Here is an example of where I heard the small, still voice of God within and acted on it. I had just obtained my bachelor’s degree at the age of 44 and was flying high. I felt grateful for God’s love and presence in my life and wanted to share it with someone. I ASKED God to lead me to someone who needed love. As I drove my car along the ocean road, I clearly heard God’s voice: PULL OVER HERE. I turned off the road and parked in the parking lot. I asked, “Now what?”

I noticed a woman sitting by herself on the rocks at the edge of the ocean.  Although fear enveloped me and I wanted to get back in my car, I knew in my heart she was the woman I was to share God’s love with.  I walked up to her and introduced myself and said, “God wants you to know that He loves you very much.”

Her jaw dropped and the color drained from her face as she looked at me in shock. Then the flood gates opened and she cried uncontrollably as I stood and prayed for her. She said, “I want to die. I wanted to kill myself at the very moment you arrived.” She shared her story and why she wanted to die. I stayed with her and listened for a long time until I knew she was safe.

I’m so grateful that I have learned to trust myself so I can hear God and be an instrument of love and healing.

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Pat Hastings

Author, Inspirational Speaker, Spiritual Coach, Retreat Leader & Radio Talk Show Host

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