Anne Loyd
Helping Ordinary Women Do Extraordinary Things

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Keep Your Own Counsel

Last night I was flicking through a book of mine which discussed that people join groups as they have a need or a want to be lead. One thing that struck me in this book was that because humans have an unrelenting need to belong to a group, these very groups (like church, self help groups, new age spiritual groups etc) can begin to act as cults. Cults typically have a negative connotation, so I looked at its meaning on the trusty Webster’s Online Dictionary:

CULT - “Attentive care; homage; worship”, “A system of religious belief and worship”.

I don’t want to get into the whole cult debacle because that could be a subject for another day, but my book stated that essentially (and this is in my own words) groups become a cult when we stop seeing our own greatness or brilliance and rely on the person or thing we worship or pay homage to, to give us answers or direction. In other words, we choose to follow a leader rather than follow our own knowing, wisdom, or heart. It was at this moment in the book that I sat up and took notice – not because of cults and what they mean because I have certainly experienced them in my lifetime (my brother belonged to a cult along with a very close friend) – but because we can often seek out others to give us answers rather than rely on our own inherent wisdom.

So let me pose a question to you. When you have a decision to make, what’s the first thing you do? Do you discuss it with all your friends and family to get their opinion (and sometimes feel even more confused) and eventually make a decision after you have heard all their advice? Or do you keep your own counsel and go within for the answer with the belief that you know what feels true or right for you?

Asking everyone’s advice on a pressing decision inadvertently gives away your power and sense of self worth. 

Women are always willing to help friends and love ones with decisions and it is usually done with the best intentions. However, this ‘advice’ can often be fraught with projection, judgement and bias based on their own experience. It's rare to get a very clean,  unbiased view from a friend/family member or friend. By asking everyone’s advice on a pressing decision you inadvertently end up giving away your power and your sense of worth, because you think they have the answer, or the wisdom, not you.  When you discuss a decision or issue with your friends and family or work colleagues, you get confused, and entangled in the drama of finding a solution. 

A great deal of research has been done on ‘paralysis by analysis’which means that the more choice we are given, the harder (and more confusing) it is to make a decision. Supermarkets experiment with this all the time. When they offer customers too much choice, sales go down, but when the choice is limited, sales increase. Malcolm Gladwell illustrates this point beautifully in his book ‘Blink’and states that your first initial gut feeling, or intuitive feeling is often correct and that too much choice hinders that initial knowing.

Perhaps one of the greatest things I love about coaching is to help my clients extract their own knowledge, wisdom, experience and intuition. Even when clients tell me "they don't know", I know that they do know. The answer/solution is always there, even if it's buried deep. When clients come up with the solution themselves, they have a greater sense of resonance to the solution and a greater sense of ownership as they weren't told what to do by someone else. Trusting yourself like this builds self-confidence and a sense of empowerment. 

Trust yourself

So next time you have a pressing decision or are unsure which path to take, before going anywhere near your girlfriends, your family, your work colleagues or whoever you go to, go within for your answer. That's where the answer is. You may well need to do research and you may need to speak to experts, but start getting used to using your own counsel and trusting your own inherent wisdom and knowledge. Stop talking about it to everyone. TRUST yourself. As you get used to going to yourself rather than to others, you will most likely find the decision making process a whole lot easier, and a whole lot quicker too.