An important part of reclaiming the driver’s seat of your wellness (see What’s Driving Your Wellness) is becoming comfortable with following your own north star. There will be times when you think you should turn left but everyone else is telling you to turn right. When it comes to wellness, there’s no shortage of popular opinion or advice out there. Sometimes, to do what’s right for you, you have to go your own way. So why is it so hard and sometimes downright scary?
When you’re in your own driver’s seat, you are making decisions and taking action from a place of integrity because you are in alignment with your body, mind, and spirit. This is your north star, the beat of your own drum, and the place from which you can live fully, authentically, and purposefully.
It’s not always an easy place to find and getting there is a process that isn’t always comfortable. Just reading that sentence may have brought about a range of emotions – apprehension, apathy, frustration, or perhaps a deep longing.
At the moment of decision when you know you need to turn left, there are three things that often lead us to turn right instead:
#1 – Being afraid of offending or disappointing someone.
The simple truth is that no person can ever really know you as well as you know yourself. Only you know the depths of your desires, fears, pains, and joys. So only you can make the best decisions for yourself. You can gather information and consider other perspectives but in the end you have to be willing to take them or leave them. In doing so, you just have to know you’re doing the right thing, whether or not someone ends up offended or disappointed.
#2 – Being afraid of making a mistake or being wrong.
I don’t believe in mistakes. At least not in the absolute sense. You may do things that don’t work out the way you hoped they would. But that’s not a mistake. It may be a lesson. It may be inconvenient. It may be embarrassing. But it’s not wrong – because it’s always an opportunity to learn and grow. Not everyone shares this perspective, though. So throughout your life you may have encountered criticism, ridiculing, or other reactions for so-called mistakes. If those reactions were hurtful, you probably try hard to avoid them in the future. When you’re so afraid of making a mistake or being wrong, ask yourself what consequences you’re most afraid of.
#3 – Trusting others more than ourselves.
We live in a ‘because-I-said-so’ society. We are taught from a young age that the demands of our authority figures, such as parents, teachers, doctors, or clergy, override our own needs and desires – both on individual and societal levels. During our development, our experiences with the level of tolerance there is for questioning and arguing, as well as the consequences for rebellion, shape our relationship to authority. Being in your driver’s seat requires the ability to discern when it’s appropriate to follow authority and when it needs to be questioned, despite the potential consequences. This could mean questioning a doctor about a treatment or diagnosis even though they are the expert. Or learning to say “No” to persuasive requests that take your time and energy. Or simply not blaming or shaming yourself if you don’t fit a ‘norm.’ When you’re in your driver’s seat, your intuition guides you and you become your own authority figure.