For the last two decades, my clients have been bringing me the most impossible, intractable questions. High-stakes questions. Life or death questions. The kinds of questions that will define her future.
I was recently thinking about a client I worked with about 15 years ago, who came to me with one such impossible, intractable, future-defining question… Should she leave her marriage?
There were reasons to stay, reasons to go. She loved him. He loved her. They had so much history. She would miss his daughter so much.
Should she stay? Should she go?
And how would she know?
This is where we had to start: not yet if she should stay or go, but first with how she would know.
Because she realized
she didn’t actually know how to know.
She had to put aside the reasons — although they were all very valid and important.
She had to put aside everyone else’s opinions — even though some had perspectives and concerns worth considering.
She had to ask fear and panic to step back — which is no easy task.
We first had to get her in contact with her atrophied muscles of KNOWING.
Because every one of us KNOWS.
We KNOW what we want and what we don’t, what we love and what we loathe, what feels good and what feels bad, what is true for us and what is a lie.
At some point, we KNOW. And then life and and often our families and definitely our culture comes along and says,
No, you don’t know what you want. I’LL tell you what you want.
No, you don’t/can’t/shouldn’t love that.
This thing that feels good? It’s bad for you.
I’m not lying. You’re the liar!
We learn to doubt ourselves, our desires, our hungers, our needs, the signals of our bodies, our inner compass, our very truth.
Our inner muscles of KNOWING, atrophe from underuse.
So, before any decision could be made about her marriage, we had to reconnect my client with herself. So she could know her KNOWING and trust her SELF.
We cleared away some shitty self-limiting beliefs she picked up growing up in her family. That she needed to make sure everyone else was OK before she could put any attention on herself.
That pleasing others (who were mostly unhappy and unpredictable) was the best way to stay safe. That saying yes to what others wanted, would get her love.
Then, we helped her learn what a true yes and a true no felt like for her in her body.
We helped her discern between fear and inner knowing. We helped her notice when her mind got too loud and drowned out her own voice.
We helped her listen to and trust that voice.
We helped her develop some backbone so she could protect her voice of knowing, even in the face of others doubting it, gaslighting her, or swooping in with their well-meaning advice.
We emboldened her to take the time she needed, to keep listening.
And then, in her own divine timing,
she knew what to do.
Life is going to keep life-ing. We’re going to keep getting pelted with the big, hairy decisions, the ones that affect the people we care about and shape the trajectory of our lives.
Investing in strengthening our muscles of KNOWING is perhaps one of the most important things we can wrestle back from the jaws of a culture that likes to eat our self-trust for breakfast.
After all, who could truly know, but you?
To your KNOWING, dear one,
COACHING / COURSES / COMMUNITY
Moving you through the dark night & into your one wild precious life
PS: There’s an exercise in my video,“How to get clear about what you want” that helps you discover what a true yes and a true no feels like for you in your body.
If you haven’t done it yet, it’s free. And short. And sweet. And likes being shared with others who would like to be (re)connected to their inner knowing!
PPS:Photo by Wendy K. Yalom Photography.