Validating your choices is a game-changer to living your life on your terms, courageously. I used to believe that I wasn’t brave enough and didn’t know enough to make good choices but over the years, I’ve learned that we all have the answers we’re looking for. Doubt, fear & overwhelm make us believe the exact opposite.
Oh, the overthinking
I’m definitely guilty of it. I’d trick myself into believing that it was important for me to overthink because then I’d have anticipated all the possibilities — but that’s the quickest way to be mentally and physically paralyzed from doing anything at all.
Overthinking particularly likes to show up when you’re doing something that people will see or be affected by. Should I send that email? Did I bake the cake long enough? Is there more I could have done for that project?
We don’t like pain, or getting blind sighted as human beings so we feel better when we exhaust all the potential scenarios. We doubt that we’ll have the courage to face whatever is in front of us. The downside is that 1) we don’t consider what a solution can be while we’re doing all this extra thinking or 2) we begin living this scenario as if it’s actually happening — extremely unpleasant. Overthinking opens up the floodgates for unhelpful thoughts to seep in as we feel unsure of what our next move will be.
We don’t want to be rejected and we fear doing something wrong which sends us down a rabbit hole, of thinking we’ll be judged and no one will like us. So we look for external validation, for people to tell us we’re doing things right because we can’t be sure ourselves. The issue with this is we give up control to someone else and allow them to decide how we’re to live. When we take responsibility for our own choices, however, we courageously own our strength.
You are not alone in this. It happens to all of us, myself included.
This is totally normal.
The six ways you can validate your choices and build courage are:
1. Shut out the noise to hear your own voice.
Those opinions are from people who mean well and want the best for you. Maybe you like that they care and want to give you their advice. Buuut, they’re not the ones living your life. You are. Your opinion about what you do with your life weighs more than their opinion. You know yourself better than anyone else does – seriously. No one is in your head or in your body the way that you are.
2. Listen to your body.
It sends you signals all the time – biological ones like it’s time to eat, sleep, pee. It’s also sending you intuitive signals like that weird twinge of discomfort walking into a dark and silent room or feeling your shoulders relax when your friend picks up the phone. Your intuition is always right. It’s always on your side. I once read the only time your intuition is wrong is when you don’t listen to it. Give your gut some credit and allow your inner guide to show you the way. Your mind is going to logically reason its way in or out of something to keep you safe, and it won’t necessarily be right. Likewise, your body is the best indicator of your energy levels – when you feel glum or excited, that’s your body communicating with you.
3. Visualize your future self.
The version of you 5 or 10 years from now has a lot of wisdom they’ve learnt from present-day you. But you don’t have to wait all that time to begin embodying them now. That version of you exists today – if you can imagine that person, what they look like, how they act, the kinds of values they uphold, you are looking at yourself! So if you asked that version of yourself what they would do, you’ll find answers to the questions you have.
4. Take your own advice.
Act as if your best friend is asking you for advice. We’re really good at seeing the potential in other people and not applying that same philosophy to ourselves (the amount of times I’ve said “Gee, I should really take my own advice”). You care about your best friend. You want them to succeed and there’s no reason why you can’t have the same thing. And you give bombass advice which means that you know a thing or two! So whenever you have a problem you’re trying to solve, change roles so that your friend is the one asking you the problem, and follow the solution you come up with! Practice this enough, and you’ll see that you really do have the answer you’re looking for!
5. Take the pressure off.
Nine times out of ten, it’s not the actual solution you’re worried about executing but the other issues that may come up (and almost never do). If I’m baking a cake for example, it’ll be unhelpful for me to think about what might happen if I add in too much flour instead of just focusing on measuring the flour and putting in what the recipe calls for. Or maybe it’s the to-do list you’re mentally dreading rather than choosing one task and starting it. Overthinking, second-guessing or worrying are not allowed to spoil the fun. Keep things nice and simple, it gets to be easy.
6. Slow things down.
There’s no rush to make a decision, especially the big ones that have a long-term effect on your life. If you feel rushed or someone is rushing you, that’s even more incentive to pump the brakes and check in with yourself. Unhelpful thoughts are kicked into high gear (staying on the car analogy lol) when you’re going a mile a minute. Visualize easing off the gas pedal and pressing the brakes when you’re in need of some stillness.
You’ve got this
You have all the answers you’re looking for to make the best choices for your life. Truly you do. You give great advice to the people around you so it’s time you gave yourself some more credit and took that advice as well. When you seek that internal validation, you’re not going to care about what people thinking of you because you’re focused on putting your well-being first.
Now, the answer won’t always be the one you really wanted to hear, which can be hard to accept. You may need to make sacrifices, let go of toxic people or unhelpful narratives that put you in self-sabotage mode. This is normal and is a sign that you are growing out of your comfort zone, that takes a lot of courage. You’ve got this!