Who’s Running Your Life?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Who’s Running Your Life?Learn to trust your ideas.
Just before I left home for Harvard at the age of 17, my father decided to share some of his wisdom to see me on my way. He died a few years later; and I remember him as a warm, energetic man who devoted his life to healing children emotionally and mentally, and who made up nicknames for everyone he liked.
He had shared his wisdom with me before on several occasions, usually while listening to a Red Sox game and drinking a few Gablinger’s special-draft 66-calorie beers (drinking light beers before they became mainstream, he was truly a man ahead of his time). This wisdom usually consisted of a neat little rule of life he had determined to be significant: “Son,” he would tell me, nodding his head slightly and lifting his bushy gray eyebrows as if to distance them from his much more pronounced but similarly textured mustache, “never bet on a filly who fades in the stretch.”
I’m not sure if he was giving me advice about his favorite hobby, horse racing, or if it was a subtle message relating to any marriage plans in my future. In any case, on this one occasion, I remember asking him how he had decided to become a child psychologist. My father, more serious than usual, although not stern—and still with the light beer in his hand that served as a prerequisite for the imparting of wisdom—said that he hoped I would read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” while I was at college. He told me that reading it had been a turning point for him, had helped him decide what to do with his life and, more important, how to live it.
Although through some combination of rebellion and procrastination, I didn’t actually read Emerson’s essay for more than ten years after that talk, I did come to a similar turning point in my life as the result of taking my first personal-growth workshop. (Having done both, I can safely say that taking a workshop is a far more effective means of learning than reading an essay, especially one written in 19th-century English.)
Emerson wrote about people’s fear of trusting themselves. He saw that so much failure and misery in the world was a result of people failing to trust their own judgment. Yet the ironic thing is: We are always making our own decisions.
Either that or we make our own indecisions, which often lead to worse consequences than active decisions. In a way, not making a decision is a decision, too.
If we let others decide for us—then we’ve decided to let others decide for us, and that’s also our own decision. And while it’s fine to delegate decisions to others when they have more information or experience than we do, often we simply do it out of habit or out of fear that our own decision wouldn’t be good enough.
Have you ever had a thought or idea but kept it to yourself or not acted on it because you didn’t trust its worthiness? Have you ever then heard the same idea come out of someone else’s mouth and suddenly felt a wave of emotion—justification, gratification, or even humiliation or resentment because you knew it was your idea first? Your ideas are just as good as anyone’s! I’ve heard it said that everybody has at least two million-dollar ideas in a lifetime. What do you think separates the people who make the million dollars from the rest of us?
Action! Those people rely on themselves, trust themselves, and act! The rest of us have plenty of excuses, reasons why we don’t trust ourselves, justifications for not acting—but in the end, we don’t even get the chance to turn those great ideas into reality. Self-reliance means trusting ourselves to know what’s important, casting aside excuses, and going for it!
If you don’t trust yourself to know what’s best for you because you’re afraid you might be wrong, then whom or what do you trust? It’s good to know—they’ll be running your life until you change your mind. They’ll have all your power, and they’ll be the ones to decide whether you do something worthwhile with your life, or whether you simply pace off the minutes from here to the end of the line. And if you don’t feel you are trustworthy—if you’re living your life based on some kind of weighted average of all the advice you’ve been given from kindergarten until now—well, whose decision was it to do that?
It was yours. At least, it’s yours now. If you’ve never thought about this before and therefore never had a chance to make the decision to trust yourself—why not make that decision right now?
You’re always trusting yourself anyway, on some level; the final decision, or lack of one, always comes down to you. Why not cut through the confusion; the distortion; the doubt, resentment, and fear? Why not trust directly in your own inner sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad, worthwhile and worthless? This is your life. Why not rely on yourself?