Unhooking from the need for approval.
Linda: There is a tendency on the part of those in strong relationships, that while they are able to coordinate and collaborate with their partner, they can also trust their inner experience. They listen and take influence, but they know who they are, what they want, and are guided in their choices by that clarity. While they are respectful of conventional wisdom, and open to personal input provided by their partner, friends and colleagues, ultimately they tend to make their life choices on the basis of their own experience and judgments, rather than defer to the opinions of others. This trust in the validity of one’s instincts or intuitive knowledge is distinct from the notion of “shooting from the hip” or just “going with your gut feeling.” It is the closeness of the partnership that has promoted such self-trust, and that self-trust enhances the partnership.
Self-trust is less not simply “doing what I want to do” but rather is a matter of accumulating the wisdom that is cultivated through the practices of self-awareness, self reflection, and the intention to learn from the results of our life choices. It also doesn’t mean rejecting all outside opinions. Self-trust combines the openness and receptivity of a child’s mind with the understanding of an adult whose wisdom has been deepened through a lifetime of learning and the integration of life’s lessons.
A life that is self-referential is one that is flexible, fluid, and creative. Our sense of security comes from a sense of trust in our capacity to deepen it rather than rely exclusively upon the input of other people and institutions. Self-referentiality allows us to choose from a broader range of options in making our life choices without having to adhere to a particular tradition authority, or belief system. In so doing we are able to meet our needs and address our unique concerns with resourcefulness and creativity.
John, a middle-aged husband, father, and restaurant owner, put this way: “For me, when I am connected to my inner truth, I experience joy and a sense of energy and replenishment. At these times, I feel connected to a source of universal wisdom. When I’m out of integrity, I loose that connection. It’s as though someone pulled out the plug. It is of utmost important to me to be watchful and vigilant so that I can more easily recognize the times and places where I may be dishonoring my experience, or disconnecting from my truth. Whenever I do that I inevitably find indicators that immediately remind me that I’m off track and need to put in a correction.”
“These symptoms can include boredom, lethargy, being quick to feel frustration, apathy, depressive thinking, irritability or physical distress. Nine times out of ten, when I become aware of these feelings if I can redirect my attention to my inner experience and identify what’s there, what I need and plug back in to my truth rather than staying connected to my old repetitive mental patterns. I can release the grip of those thoughts and get back on track. When I can’t, I’ve learned to ride it out. One of the things I’ve learned in the process is that all experiences, the good as well as the bad are temporary. My “mantra ” has been “this too shall pass.” It helps me to get through the difficult times and to more fully enjoy the good times.”
A mindset such as the one that John has cultivated, provides a powerful antidote to the tendency towards the development of “hardening of the attitudes,” or mental sclerosis. It promotes a sense of possibility, hopefulness and independent thinking, and a way of being with others that can be crafted to fit the needs and requirements of any given situation. Designing a form that suits our deepest personal longings allows us to grow in wisdom.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.