When you read something from an expert, do you trust their advice implicitly because of their “expert status”? And then what happens when you read different, or even conflicting advice from another expert in the field? How does your problem-solving, answer-loving, just-fucking*-tell-me-what-to-do brain know what to believe?
There are plenty of experts I follow, be it through blogs or books. And I typically love the insight I gain from reading their stuff. However, I have to frequently remind myself that they, too, are just a human being in the world trying to make sense of everything.
Just like you and me.
They are not the final word on any subject. They are merely a conduit of information or inspiration that I can choose to integrate into my life or not. Because when all is said and done? I’ve got to become the expert on my life.
Just because your go-to guru says something is true doesn’t mean it has to be true for you. So be mindful of who you give your power to: the expert out there, or the expert within?
Now… let’s be clear. I’ve learned a lot and improved my life greatly thanks to the expertise of others. Therapists, authors, financial advisors, educators. The list goes on and on. So this is not me devaluing the role these people can have in our lives. (I mean, I certainly wouldn’t have gone back to school and pursued specialized training to be a therapist if I didn’t believe in the value of expertise!)
But there must come a time where you hear your inner wisdom and realize that you’re free to honor it whether some expert out there validates it for you or not. Let expertise and guidance be a platform for knowledge and inspiration → not a platform for self-doubt or a way to cater to your anxiety’s insatiable appetite for certainty.
If something an expert says doesn’t resonate, don’t let that confirm to you that the way you think or do things must be wrong.
A recent example of this from my own life is about my idea of what discipline and productivity is supposed to look like. This is especially tricky for me since I’m self employed and don’t have a single person holding me accountable for my work!
The main work I do is see clients, but in addition to that, I need to write, pursue professional development opportunities and consultation groups, reflect on my clients’ progress and think of ways I can best help them, network with other professionals, make sure I’m marketing myself to bring in new clients, and then handle other administrative tasks.
And you know what happens when I read expert advice on managing all this? I’m usually told to be very disciplined and have a set schedule for when I handle these tasks. I’m supposed to sit my ass down every day, whether I’m inspired or not, and do the damn work.
This is certainly valuable advice, and I do need to employ it at times. But still, it never felt like that system worked perfectly for me. Which means I had that nagging feeling of not being good enough to do what I’m clearly supposed to be doing. Of not being professional enough to consistently implement this system. And that doesn’t feel very good to think you’re falling short, all the time.
And then guess what -- I read a blog post from someone I respected, and that person totally honored the idea that some of us are inconsistent, phase-oriented people who cycle through increased and decreased output and productivity. And that being that way doesn’t mean you don’t do what you need to do or that you’re failing.
And that felt really good to read.
Because it gave me permission to operate in a way that beautifully melds with my nature.
It tapped into an inner truth I knew about myself. A truth that says I am fluid, moody, and prefer to live more organically (not to be confused with eating organically, considering my candy and Dr. Pepper diet). Since I know I am capable of being organized and disciplined when required, I never fear falling apart and losing my ability to hustle and do what I need to do. But, man do I love it when I give myself the freedom to honor my emotional and intellectual cycles.
The freedom to realize that maybe for awhile I will lose track of the marketing stuff, and instead be focused on the creative stuff. Or that sometimes I’ll be exercising and eating healthy and kicking ass at handling my to-do list. While at other times I’ll be eating bowls (yes, plural) of queso, staying up late, and pouring myself into something mentally stimulating that has me hooked while ignoring other pressing things. Or maybe I’ll be in a more reflective state and just need to disconnect in order to honor a personal, emotional experience I’m having.
Yet, even with all of that inconsistency, I find that I still am able to accomplish what I need to. And in a way that feels right.
Now maybe that doesn’t work for everyone. Hell -- maybe it won’t always work for me! But it resonates and feels very right for where I’m at in life right now, so I have no problem releasing the burden of the other experts out there, and instead trusting my gut on this one.
Right now, in this moment, I will choose to be the expert on myself.
And when I inevitably start struggling with something in life, I will not hesitate to seek out the expertise of others. And I will also not hesitate to question what I learn, checking in with myself to see if it fits.
I will be sure to challenge myself so I don’t ignore good advice out of my own complacency and fear of change. But I will not blindly believe something just because someone “better than me” says so.
*Some experts would probably not recommend a therapist dropping an F bomb in the 3rd sentence of a blog post#sorrynotsorry #i’minahashtagphase