When we talk about trust, we often approach it from an outside-in direction. We usually refer to trusting other people, companies, technologies, expertise, media, etc. But I’ve often found that our biggest challenge with trust is internal. It’s the ability or inability to trust ourselves.
Women, Intuition, and Trust
One of the things people generally associate with women is intuition. You’ll hear it said that women make better employees, parents, or friends because of a “woman’s intuition.” I’m going to go out a major freaking limb and challenge that thought (like I always do). The women I know and have known, including myself, tend to rely far less on our intuition than we get credit for. We gather all sorts of outside opinions before acting – almost as if to test our intuition against someone else’s reason. We second guess ourselves all the time. Sometimes, we second guess ourselves into not acting when we should.
Case in point: How many women go against their guts, intuition – whatever you want to call it – and stay in abusive, deadly relationships? How many women go against their intuition and don’t ask for raises when they should? How many women that you know go against their intuition and do the exact opposite of what they want to do?
If women really have such great intuition – and the assumption with that thought is that we actually follow it – then why would we ever need a book called He’s Just Not that Into You? Come on, ladies. Let’s get real with ourselves just for a second. We may have intuitions, alright, but there’s no significance in having intuitions that are regularly ignored.
Why We Don’t Trust Our Guts
I’m a really gutsy person, so I’ve had a great outsider’s perspective with women and trust. I have a friend who endured two ridiculously long-term relationships with men who not only treated her very badly, but also made it absolutely clear that there was no real future. She and I had endless conversations over the years about both of those relationships.
What her situation boiled down to was the intersection of hope and fear, and it is the same in any situation where we feel our guts telling us to do one thing and yet we do another. We hope that the situation will turn out the way we want, but we fear the unknown, so strongly that we ignore our intuition. The fear actually creates a false hope that things will go our way. We say to ourselves, “What I don’t know could be worse than what I actually know,” even if what we actually know really sucks. The idea that it could possibly suck even worse keeps us from acting when we should.
In a nutshell, trusting our intuition requires courage. Courage doesn’t mean you cannot experience fear. It just means that you go with your gut despite your fear.
My Trek to Ultimate Trust in My Intuition
What does trusting your intuition look like? Well, the picture on the outside isn’t always pretty, but as the former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs said once,
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
For me, trusting my intuition has meant
- Short-term relationships. I’ve kissed a lot of frogs, as many women have and do. The only difference between me and the next chick is that I don’t keep kissing them, hoping they will turn into princes. Besides, I don’t want to be married for seven years and then divorced. When I marry, I want to be married for life. This means trusting my intuition when it’s obvious it isn’t going to work out.
- Rocky financial situations. In business, going with your gut could mean eating spaghetti for six months, or even six years (luckily for me I haven’t had to go quite that long). If you ask any of the founders of Fortune 500 companies, I’ll bet you that more than half of them were willing to do this, too. It’s very gutsy. But boy, does it create some good stories!
- Confusing people. My life has been a path full of two and three way intersections. I find that I’m constantly given a choice between multiple roads. Your choices, like mine, could end up creating a zig-zag, instead of a smooth highway. Those who want the smooth road are not going to understand what you are doing, and that’s okay.
- Being less popular right now. Going with your gut may mean forsaking popularity in the short term. I could have kept bizchickblogs in the little “blog about blogging” box it was in. It was comfy in that box. If I stayed in it, I could have made a lot more friends, and had tons of comments and retweets and whatnot. But my intuition said, “You can be bigger than this.” I believe that.
For you, going with your gut could mean something totally different. Just know that trusting your intuition is not always a path to instantaneous success, pleasure, or even the feeling that you’ve made the right choice. While it ultimately can bring happiness and clarity, it can also be a lonely, confusing road.
If we band together and start trusting our intuition more often and in bigger ways, we will become stronger as a unit, and able to be there for our sisters when they are struggling to trust their intuition, too. There is nothing better than being able to call up a strong girlfriend who has been in your shoes and can say with experience, “Everything is going to be alright.”
My hope for you is that you find the courage to do what you know you should do, even when the unknown is petrifying. Have faith, and don’t be afraid to lean on someone strong to help you through it.
Happy, happy September!