Have you ever tried to follow an “expert’s” advice that just didn’t fit for you? Have you felt like a failure because their advice didn’t work as well for you as it did for them? What if you decided to do it your way, instead?
Why is it that we seek the “perfect” advice from others, rather than trusting ourselves and finding a way that is right for us?
I think we do this because we’ve been told that other people know better, that they have the expertise and have it all figured out. We haven’t been taught to listen to ourselves and because of that we lack confidence to trust ourselves. We place so much value on reading self-help books, following “influencers”, and learning “the best” things to do from gurus and experts but we have forgotten how to tap into our own intuition.
My thought? Learn to value yourself! Do it your way! Listen to yourself and start living an intuitive and empowered life.
We Do Need Support from Others
I’m not saying never look to others. Of course there is value in seeking support and ideas. But, I believe that too much surveying, as Brene Brown calls it in The Gifts of Imperfection, can lead to more harm than help. Trusting others more than ourselves only feeds our insecurities and feelings of failure. I think we should stop putting so much value on the “experts” advice and start trusting ourselves more!
And, yes, I am fully aware of the irony of this article because here I am giving you advice. But I’m not saying you should do exactly as I say. My motto is always “take what fits and leave the rest!” This article will help you learn to do things your way, follow your gut, and get empowered now!
Again, I want to be clear, I’m not saying you should never look to others for support, ideas, or suggestions. Humans need other humans. We need to feel that we are not alone and we need support and connection. Seek all the advice you want, if that’s helpful for you, but don’t let it lead you to losing trust in yourself. You don’t need to follow another person’s way of doing something exactly, you can take other people’s advice and create something that is our own. Ultimately only you know what’s best for you!
I also think it’s important to make a distinction here between “experts” on subjective topics such as self-care, routines, and life hacks, and actual scientific or policy experts. Please don’t misinterpret this article as saying that we don’t need to listen to doctors’ advice about vaccines, or that we don’t need to listen to climate scientists about climate change, or that we don’t need to listen to behavioral psychologists or historians about racism or sexism.
We Don’t Need to Follow Others’ Advice that Doesn’t Fit
I see examples of this over and over again in my work with my coaching clients. I always know and trust that my clients have their own answers within them but they don’t always know that or trust that at first. Over and over again I see clients trying to follow an expert’s way of doing something and over and over again they don’t follow through or it doesn’t work out. Why? Because it wasn’t the best way for them to do it. Another person’s “best” isn’t necessarily what’s “best” for you.
What I’ve observed in my clients and in myself is that once a person starts answering their own questions and doing what works for them, they start to see success in so many areas of their life. This is true with parenting, exercise, self-care, taking care of your home, time management, food, and so much more. The examples and steps I list in this article can be applied to almost any area of your life.
Let’s Talk About Self-Care
Many of my clients think of me as a self-care “expert “and they look to me for advice. I always say I’ll give them self-care support, but never advice. Why? Because self-care is different for everyone. The only piece of advice I”ll give, that I believe is true for everyone, is that the way you practice self-care has to work for you!
It’s my belief that anyone who is telling you exactly how and when to practice your self-care is setting you up for failure. Self-care success will come when you define self-care for yourself and you define when and how it works for you.
I’ll give you a personal example of how I was set up for self-care failure and what happened when I took the “expert advice” and made it my own.
Busting the Morning Routine Myth
Years ago I was hearing and reading over and over again that having a morning routine or ritual was absolutely necessary. Have you heard this? I’d never had a morning routine before and thought if only I could have the “perfect” morning routine everything else in my life would fall into place. That’s what all the “experts” were telling me anyway!
So, after doing a lot of reading on the topic, I committed to having a morning routine. I decided I would follow the advice of one particular person who will go unnamed here. The book I read claimed all kinds of things but most importantly it claimed it was necessary to follow the suggestions in the book exactly. So I did.
I started with gusto as many of us do when we start new things. I was pumped, I was motivated, and I was ready for my life to change in miraculous ways.
Doing What I Was Told Wasn’t Working
Well, after a few days of getting up and doing exactly what I was told to do, I was exhausted. It was getting harder to drag myself out of bed and it was even harder to do the activities the “expert” was telling me to do. My motivation was waning fast. Have you been there?
You can probably see where this is going. After a couple of weeks, I didn’t want to do the morning routine anymore and I was beginning to feel like I’d failed. I had thoughts like, “I guess I’m just not a morning routine kind of person. I guess I’ll never have a perfect life.” Of course, when we’re down on ourselves it’s pretty typical to slip into hyperbole and that’s exactly what I was doing. My morning routine was feeling like a giant fail and so was I.
I’ll cut to the chase. After literally years of trying to follow other people’s perfect morning routine advice, I finally had a huge realization for myself. I could do this however I wanted. I could create a routine that fit me and my life! It may sound obvious but it was kind of mind-blowing for me.
5 Steps to Start Trusting Yourself and Doing it Your Way
Here are the steps I took to create a morning routine my way:
1. Reflect on the Past. Ask yourself what happened when you tried to follow someone else’s advice exactly.
In the case of my morning routine, I realized that when I tried to do it someone else’s way I didn’t enjoy it. Because I didn’t enjoy it, it was hard for me to stay motivated. The lack of motivation lead me to stop and that lead to feelings of failure and “I’m not enough”. Nothing about that experience was helping me have a better life.
2. Give yourself grace for the past and the future.
This is an important step. If you skip it, it will be hard to move forward. I had to give myself a lot of grace for the morning routine fiasco. I told myself that I was okay. And then, I reminded myself that I tried and that is huge. I allowed myself to let go of what had happened and move forward with the inner knowing that I would definitely make more mistakes in the future. I am human, after all!
3. Check in with your needs. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself what your needs are in this specific situation.
This step takes practice. At first it might be hard to know what your needs are. Don’t give up. Keep asking yourself. With practice you will get better at tuning in with yourself and you’ll be able to better identify what you need.
In my morning routine example, I knew I wanted to have a morning routine but I knew I needed to have flexibility with it. I needed choices every morning, rather than a strict list of things to do. I also knew I needed to get up at a time that worked for me and to follow a pace that fit my life and schedule.
4. Meet your needs. How can you meet your needs? What can you take from the expert? What can you add or subtract to make this fit you and your life?
Such a huge, important step! Start designing a plan that works for you and meets your needs! Take the parts from the expert that fit for you, leave what doesn’t. Include new parts that work for you. Adapt and modify as you go. Stay present and aware of your needs so you are always meeting them.
For me, this has become what I call “Intuitive Self-Care”. Every morning when I wake up I check in with myself about what I need. I have a “menu” of options that I’ve created to choose from and I meet my daily morning needs rather than sticking to a schedule that was created by an “expert”.
This has taken time, patience, and grace with myself to create. It’s ever evolving and changing to meet my needs. I encourage you to be patient and have grace with yourself too. Give yourself the gift of tuning into what works for you.
5. Move ahead with the plan that you have created. Do it your way!
I think this one is self-explanatory. You can do this!
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Following Expert Advice
DO look to an expert for:
- Support and possible ideas to try
- Asking yourself powerful questions that get you thinking about what works best for you
- Topics related to science, medicine, vaccines, climate change, and racism or sexism.
DON’T look to an expert for:
- Advice on exactly what to do and how to do it.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself:
- How can I do this in a way that works best for my situation, myself, and my family?
- What routines (or lack thereof) will support my habits and personality?
- What will work well for me?
Are there more questions you would like to ask yourself?
Some “Do It Your Way” Suggested Affirmations:
- I know myself and my family better than anyone else.
- It’s okay to trust myself when it comes to my life.
- I will take what fits and leave the rest.
Is there an affirmation you would like to create for yourself?
*If you want to read about affirmations, here’s a great article by one of my colleagues, Sami Main.
It’s Time For Confidence and Trust!
It takes courage, confidence and trust in yourself to start living according to your intuition and what you really need. Following the steps and suggestions I’ve given you in this article is a good place to start. Want to live a happier, more fulfilling life? Stop listening to everybody else and do it your way! Listen to yourself, ask yourself what you need and start living an intuitive and empowered life!