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Column: Learning to trust myself

Photo via Anaiah Davis

Whether we recognize it, advice plays a huge role in our everyday lives. We frequently ask others to weigh in on our choices or we share suggestions of our own, even when they’re unsolicited.

This guidance, often provided by those who have our best interest in mind, is meant to be helpful and informative. However, the last few years have taught me that there can be downsides to asking for and receiving advice.

When I started dating my boyfriend, I often looked to my friends, family and sometimes social media for suggestions about how to navigate my relationship. I wanted to know about compatibility, red flags, communication and more. I was desperate for answers.

It wasn’t long before I became obsessed with what other people thought I should do – in and outside of my relationship. I started to think that I didn’t know what was best for me and feared making decisions that other people might not agree with. 

I spent months drowning in self-doubt that pulled me under like quicksand. Eventually, I realized that the advice I received wasn’t helping me make informed decisions. Instead, it made me second-guess myself and fostered an inability to separate my feelings from the thoughts of others.

By giving myself time, grace and love, I overcame that hurdle. I started listening to my heart and focusing on what I wanted above anything else. Since then, I’ve noticed other minor drawbacks to receiving advice in other areas of my life. 

While I was apartment shopping with my best friend over the summer, I mentioned that I needed an organizer for my bathroom. In an effort to help, she pointed out a folding shelf in Five Below. I’ve never been an impulse buyer and deep down I knew that I didn’t want it. She urged me to make the purchase, so I did and immediately regretted it.

I should have spoken up, but I didn’t. I somehow rationalized that I didn’t know what I wanted, anyway. A week later, I returned the shelf. I no longer wanted the opinion of others to affect even the smallest of decisions.

Once I acknowledged my behavior and how to change it, I stopped letting the advice I received heavily impact my decision-making process. My whole world changed.

Now I’m able to follow my heart without seeking external validation. When I deepened my inner trust and obtained faith that I can steer myself in the right direction, my self-esteem skyrocketed.

Receiving advice from others can be an enlightening and thought-provoking experience. In some cases, it can bring people closer together. At the end of the day, it’s important to stay true to yourself and trust that only you know what’s best for you.

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