carefully listening to our intuition is both a joy and a burden
Something I’m working on this year is developing more self trust.
This is difficult, because historically I’ve been pretty bad at trusting myself. As in, lacking the grace and confidence in execution of decisions. I used to always dither about, asking people for their opinions when I knew deep down what I needed to do. Even in the small decisions - should I buy this dress? When I could just ask myself - do I feel good in this dress?
And of course, there are bigger questions. One close friendship I had a long time ago always felt vaguely wrong because I never felt good around this person. They always made strange jokes at my expense, made me feel judged all the time. But at the time, I didn’t know what right felt like. I was young, and I didn’t trust myself enough to leave the friendship earlier than I eventually did. I would always think to myself: if this should feel great, why do I feel kind of bad all the time? The thing is: I already knew what I had to do, I just couldn’t bear to actually listen and action on my intuition. Exactly the feeling Haley Nahman once wrote about: I’d mistake the myopia of pain avoidance for the utopia of doing what felt right.
The wonderful, and challenging, truth about adulthood is that you have control over essentially most things. Volition. The power to choose and determine. That you are responsible for the people you love, the friendships you nourish, the body you inhabit, the thoughts you curate. Then, carefully listening to our intuition is both a joy and a burden.
But to know what you want, you have to spend less time numbing yourself. You have to know what good feels like. Recently, I walked to Chrissy Fields at sunset — it was one of those moments where I felt like I simply existed in relation to the world, not in my usual tech-enabled, little individualized cocoon. I had a dinner on mid autumn festival yesterday, and felt such an overwhelming wave of peace sitting there with people I trust and admire. Internal spaciousness. When you spend time with people you love, you then practice recognizing what love is meant to feel like. Ease, grace, warmth, wide openness, intentional presence. So when you find it again, it’s simple: you just know.
Building self trust is as simple as engaging more with actions that make you feel like you’re occupying some essential part of yourself. Here are some of my examples: Creating art. Being disciplined and working toward a goal. Carving out time and space to sit in my solitude. Intimate 1:1 convos. Reading the same book over and over. Cooking something nostalgic that reminds me of home. I just saved this passage by Rayne yesterday: the act of loving something should be generative and consuming — it should add something to who you are and lead you to a new understanding of all the parts that were already there.
So this is what I want: to write more frequently, with more intimacy. Trusting that I know what feels right, and what I have to let go of. Trusting in my ability to listen, respond. To observe signals. Trusting myself to walk away gracefully from disrespect and unkindness. To avoid things that, for no other explanation, simply don’t feel right. But also to build a graph of need, a graph of desire. Knowing what I want and relaxing the walls around my heart a little more to let more of it in.
This Terence McKenna quote keeps popping up again and again in my life:
Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick….This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.
We’re always experiencing trust falls. Eyes closed, arms open. That takes courage. Unwavering faith in yourself to walk right into the center of a dream, a gut feeling, a song, a person. This year, I’m committed to cultivating what’s vivid and real and pure. I’ve been honing my internal recognition. I trust myself to know what feels right when I feel it again.
Ps: if you liked this piece, I wrote a similar one on gut feelings
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Quote of the Week
I used to think that I had to be careful with how much I lived. As if life was a pocketful of coins. You only got so much and you didn't want to spend it all in one place. But now I know that life is the one thing in the world that never runs out. I might run out of mine, and you might run out of yours, but the world will never run out of life.