Being your own authority

Developing trust in yourself and your feelings is an essential part of developing mental strength. 

Taking in advice, teachings, and guidance from others can help us learn, and has value. But, many of us take this too far. We have a habit of always looking outside of ourselves for the answers instead of trusting what our own intuitions, instincts and feelings are telling us. 

For instance, have you ever gone along with something that didn’t feel right out of fear of what others might think of you if you spoke up? Have you ever done something that wasn’t quite authentic simply to impress other people or fit in only to later regret it?  

These are examples of not listening to ourselves and letting fear get in the way.

There’s a story about this you might remember from your childhood. Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is a fairy-tale about two conmen who pretended to be weavers and convinced the Emperor they had a magical fabric with which they could make him the finest suit in all the land.

The conmen said that the magic of the fabric is that it can only be seen by those who are intelligent and brave. It appears invisible to those who are stupid and incompetent. 

The Emperor, who loves fine clothing, is excited about this magical suit, and he pays the men a handsome sum to get a suit ready for an upcoming parade. 

After a week, The Emperor sends men to check on the weaver’s work. When each man realises he sees nothing, he doesn’t want to admit it as he doesn’t want to appear stupid and incompetent. So, each man lies to the Emperor, saying how wonderful the suit looks.

The suit is brought to the Emperor on the day of the parade. The Emperor sees nothing, but, he too did not want to be seen to be stupid or incompetent, so he agrees that the suit is wonderful and goes to put it on.

The Emperor then goes on his royal parade through town in front of his entire kingdom with no clothes on. Everyone in the kingdom sees the emperor without clothes, but for fear of being accused of being stupid or incompetent, they all speak to each other about how magnificent he looks.

Finally, a child yells out: ”The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!” 

Then everyone realises what is actually true and start exclaiming together: “The Emperor has no clothes!”. The Emperor then finds himself standing in the middle of the parade wearing nothing but his pride.

We can probably all relate to this story because we all share a common challenge…

The pull to be part of the pack

We humans are tribal creatures. The way our minds have evolved means we will always feel a strong pull to fit in and be part of the pack. We feel drawn to conform rather than risk rejection.

But this internal pressure to conform means we can sometimes deny our own feelings instead of listening to them. It means we might hold off on challenging the status quo even if something really doesn’t feel right to us. 

Sometimes we might make decisions and take actions with little reason other than the fact that everyone else is doing it. 

Some people exploring personal growth or a spiritual path get caught up in believing that a particular teacher or leader knows better than them. They idolise this leader, doing whatever they say without question. But, this rejection of our own authority has led many people down unhealthy and unhelpful paths. 

The foundations for basic wisdom

If at any time something doesn’t feel right to you, why not listen to and honour your feelings? Why should you ever ignore those feelings if some authority figure or group of people think differently? 

This capacity for trusting yourself is the foundation of basic wisdom.

Honouring instead of ignoring our feelings

For many of us it can be a habit to ignore instead of honouring our feelings. But emotions and sensations can be like guides and the body has its own wisdom. 

For instance, when we have been working too long the body gets tired or overly revved. If we honour those feelings, they can teach us to take rest. A feeling of loneliness, instead of being avoided, can be a signal that we’d like more connection and to seek that in our lives. 

A sense of sadness about the state of the world today, when fully felt and honoured, can be a powerful motivator to take compassionate action for positive change no matter how big or small.

Wisdom grows the more you listen to your feelings, intuitions and sensations with an openheartedness. 

So, this week’s invitation is to practice listening to and trusting your own feelings and your own being, as the ultimate authority in your life.

I hope this is helpful for you. Take care and stay strong.

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