I have a dear friend named Amy. (Amy Everhart, to be totally accurate. And if you're looking for an amazing career coach, this woman is IT!)
Amy stands for something I truly believe in but have a hard time doing: tapping into your inner authority.
You know, your higher wisdom.
Your inner girlboss.
Your inner badass.
The one in you who knows all things.
This inner authority is the one that's driven all your most amazing decisions in life, that were a combination of intuition, bravery, terror, and courage.
The one that's stood up and pointed out to you, "This. This is what we want. And this is how we're going to get it."
Each of us have an inner authority, my friend, and that includes you.
But not all of us tap into that inner authority all the time, or hardly ever. We don't always know how to do it, or remember that it's there. And we don't always know how to utilize it.
Amy asked me a key, pointed question the other day that totally rocked my world. She asked:
What keeps you from tapping into your inner authority?
Now at first glance, this question might not really seem like anything out of the ordinary. Anything groundbreaking or mind-blowing.
But as I dug into my answer to this question, it quickly did become life-changing and mind-blowing for me. And I wanted to share my answers with you.
What keeps me from tapping into my inner authority:
1. Fear of taking responsibility.
My biggest fear in life has always been one of safety. In any given situation, my ego (logic brain) is asking, "Am I safe? Is this okay? Am I a weirdo freak?"
Slightly paranoid, I know. But very real for me! Which is why it makes sense that this fear keeps me from tapping into that inner authority.
Any chance I get, I avoid taking responsibility. If someone is mad at me, I try to find someone or something to blame my misdeed upon. If someone of external authority asks me a question, I go find someone else to give the answer. If someone doesn't like what I do, I try to hide behind a proverbial tree. Anything to keep myself safe and from having to take responsibility for what I do/say/feel. Not exactly the key formula for inner authority.
2. Lack of experience.
You know that meme about how even getting an entry-level job these days can require a ton of experience that you didn't know you needed to have, let alone even knew how to get?
Especially as a young person, my lack of experience tends to persuade me that what I know is not enough. What I want isn't good enough. That the decisions I make will likely be out of context, illogical, or idealistic. (Self-doubt to the max!) There's endless ways to talk me out of my inner authority on this one!
3. A constantly-shifting comparison bar.
In her podcast episode on failure, Jody Moore on Bold New Mom describes failure as not meeting our own expectations we set for ourselves. #mindblown
I don't know about you, but the expectations I set for myself usually shift greatly depending on the people I'm with. And because of that, I never really know which expectations I'm actually supposed to meet! I feel like I'm a crazy lady, running from bar to bar!
Am I supposed to be a doting mom? A successful girlboss? A homegrown, family values conservative? The sexy wife? A meek and humble acquaintance?
When I'm basing my standards off of what I think people want from me, I'm totally not in touch with my inner authority. Hello, I'm just trying to do what I think other people want! Not the most empowering place from which to follow my inner guidance.
4. A desire to belong.
We all want to be loved. We all want to belong. Most of us (including me) trade inner authority for whatever it is we need to do to get this love and belonging.
You know what I'm talking about...I'm talking about the times when I say things I don't mean because I think it'll make somebody laugh. Or when I pretend that I like Chipotle when I really, truly don't. Or when I let the boundaries I set get crossed time and time again because I'm too afraid of losing a friendship. This one is a pretty big killer of the inner authority vibe.
5. Being away from home.
Now, I don't know if this is just a geographical being-away-from-home or an internal one. (I suspect both.) But anytime I get caught up in the race of life and the fast-paced world around me, I totally give up my inner authority.
There's something about coming home that restores this for me. I experienced it when I spent two weeks in Japan. I experience it every time I go back to Idaho. I experience it after a really good meditation session.
Reminding myself of where I come from and what my values are is what helps me to restore that inner authority, to place confidence in her again, to let her take the wheel instead of me in my logic brain always trying to take over like a crazy person!
Now, before we get all depressed about the myriad of ways in which we can get out of touch with our inner authority, let's look at ways we can get back in touch with it too!
I think the key to the solution lies in starting to be honest with ourselves. Or at least I know it worked that way for me. By looking at all the things that keep me from accessing my inner authority, I've emerged so much more on fire and motivated to identify those situations when they happen, and turn those moments around!
Ways of accessing inner authority can include practicing self-care. Listening to what you really want. Picking one moment a week in which to take a deep breath, put your big girl pants on, and speak your truth.
Just because you're not connected to inner authority all the time doesn't meant it isn't there. And also doesn't mean that you're doing life all wrong or that you're a bad person or a failure.
It might simply mean that you've fallen out of touch with yourself in certain areas of your life, and it's time to get back on the authenticity/freedom train. We all do it, I do it, and we can always get back to a place of love and authenticity. It's always available to us.