Podcast: Sometimes, You Have to Trust Yourself

Date

I quit my job to make sure I didn't lose myself.

Asha B. Wilkerson

Episode Summary

In this conversation, Asha Wilkerson discusses the importance of learning to trust yourself and making decisions that align with your own instincts and feelings. She shares her personal experience of resigning from a tenured teaching position and the process of trusting her gut. Asha emphasizes the practice of journaling to uncover and understand your feelings, as well as overcoming the tendency to people-please. She provides steps for building self-trust and encourages listeners to prioritize their own desires and well-being.

Takeaways

  • Self-trust is an underdeveloped concept in many communities, but it is essential for making decisions that align with your own instincts and feelings.
  • Journaling can be a powerful tool for uncovering and understanding your emotions, allowing you to make intentional changes in your life.
  • Overcoming the tendency to people-please is crucial for building self-trust and making decisions that prioritize your own well-being.
  • Trusting yourself and following your gut can lead to a more fulfilling and authentic life, even if it means going against conventional advice.

     

Timestamped Summary of This Episode

  • 00:00 Learning to Trust Yourself
  • 01:23 Resigning from a Tenured Position
  • 04:44 Trusting Your Gut
  • 06:11 Journaling to Uncover Feelings
  • 07:34 Overcoming People-Pleasing
  • 08:57 Steps to Trusting Yourself
  • 09:51 Healing and Creating Your Dream Life

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Asha:

Learning to Trust Yourself

(00:02.532)
Even when all the advice in the world is available to you, sometimes you have to learn to trust yourself. In our communities, we rarely talk about self -trust. So in most of us, it’s an underdeveloped concept. We’ve been taught to look for the teacher, for answers.

(00:32.772)
Even when all the advice in the world is available to you, sometimes you just have to learn to trust yourself. In our communities, we rarely talk about self-trust. So in most of us, it’s underdeveloped. We’ve been taught to look for the teacher for answers, the coach for correction, for Google for the best way to proceed. But sometimes, against all good advice, you have to choose your own path.

In today’s podcast, I’m going to share with you my tips for choosing your own way in spite of advice to the contrary. I can think of three incidents off the top of my head where I decided to choose a path of my own in the face of conventional advice. But I’m going to tell you about one.

You may or may not know this about me, but I recently resigned from my full-time tenured college teaching position. If you’re unfamiliar with what tenure means, it’s an academic security blanket that prevents an employee or faculty member from losing their job, which means I essentially could have stayed there at the same college for the rest of my life. 

I absolutely loved teaching until I didn’t. And I don’t really think it was about the teaching that became too much for me after a while, but about being solely responsible for running the department, for handling student complaints, faculty concerns, and for growing the program. And that’s what ultimately did me in.

I found myself procrastinating on deadlines, replying slowly to emails, and returning zero phone calls. In fact, when the phone would ring and it was a voice message, I was like, who calls people anymore? If it’s not an email, it’s not important. That probably was not the best thing to do, but that’s what I did. I ran out of energy and steam to do most things required of me except for showing up to teach my students. I had been a college professor for seven years when I decided to call it quits. But it took me a while to arrive at that decision.

Resigning from a Tenured Position

When I tossed around the idea of quitting to my community, the initial feedback was, why don’t you find a way to make it work? I was asking myself the same question too. The job wasn’t hard per se. I just didn’t want to do it. I got paid well and I didn’t have to be in an office from nine to five. I had summers off if I wanted them in theory, but since I was the boss, I never really got to be completely off. I had a month between semesters and lots of flexibility. The job was really

(02:50.116)
cushy and I was doing good work for the community. Plus at one point this was my dream job. So how could I just quit? But I was miserable and I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I’m not the person who can do something, a job, an event, or have a friend if it’s not aligned. And I don’t know. And how do I know it’s not aligned? I pay attention to how I feel inside.

In fact, I have really learned over the past couple of months that if I’m going back and forth about a decision or weighing both sides, which is very Libra of me, that means that there’s some discord or disconnect and I’m not actually paying attention to that unsettledness. There’s a part of my brain that’s still trying to justify it when really if I just acknowledge the unsettledness, I wouldn’t have to justify it because I would just trust my feelings.

Anyway, with my department chair position, I was anxious. I felt a heaviness on my chest and a pit in my stomach. And it was the exact opposite of feeling excited when it came to planning and growing the program. I’d felt it at one point, but not anymore. 

I felt weighed down by the responsibility and I resented all of the work that I had to do without efficient support to actually get it done well. And I think this disconnect manifested in unexplained weight gain, sleepless nights, and in an overall bad attitude, annoyed attitude that I couldn’t shake.

So despite people’s well -meaning advice, I quit my job to make sure that I didn’t lose myself. Who leaves a tenured position? That means job security. Who leaves a government job with a retirement plan? Who leaves a job with 12 weeks off each year with full -time pay?

Trusting Your Gut

Me.

I did, I did it.

I trusted myself to make the right decision in the face of many opinions to the contrary.

But before I could quit, I had to learn to listen to my gut, my intuition, what was it saying? But at first I couldn’t hear it. Most of us have been socialized out of trusting our instincts. It starts with our kids. How many times have you told a small child or heard a parent tell a child to say hi to an adult or to give them a hug when they really don’t want to?

How many times have you been told not to let fear get in your way or to put your emotions to the side because they’re not helpful? 

Or to the contrary, how many of you have actually been asked to share what your feelings are and have been assisted by a parent or an adult in your life with unpacking the emotions to see what really lies beneath? 

Most of us have not. As a kid, I had very good instincts, but politeness covered them up.

So as an adult, I had not only learned to hear my instincts, I had not, okay. As a kid, I had very good instincts, but politeness covered them up.

Journaling to Uncover Feelings

So as an adult, I’ve had not only to relearn how to hear my instincts, but to learn how to trust them as well. How did I do it?

First, I started by asking myself what I felt, because I had learned that what I felt didn’t really matter. It was the goal, get to the goal, who cares how you feel.

I’m a big journaler, so I write just about every single morning. Sometimes I have a specific question I’m answering, but most often I’m just writing about the feelings that are coming up. I’m giving myself the space to write freely without judgment, and that is so important, that without judgment part. It allows me to see the thoughts in my brain that are swirling around. It helps me to organize them, and it helps me to see what I should focus on.

After getting my feelings out, I read what I wrote, and I really notice what I’ve put on the page.

How do I feel?

Do I want to feel that way?

Why do I feel that way?

This practice allows me to self coach to change the unintentional thoughts that are coming up into intentional thoughts that are aligned with my goals. Because if your thoughts don’t match what you want, then your actions won’t get you what you desire.

Then I give myself permission to make changes that will get me where I want to go.

The practice of mining my thoughts to uncover feelings over and over again has allowed me to develop self -trust, which ultimately led me to following my gut to resign from my full -time job. If I hadn’t engaged in this practice, I would have continued to feel miserable, stuck, and extremely unhappy. This journaling practice also allowed me to see the parts of me that still needed healing.

Overcoming People Pleasing

(07:34.372)
When I thought about resigning, I thought about how the people I care about the most might be disappointed in me. I learned all about people pleasing as a kid and how important our reputation was to my family. And the thought that I might disappoint the family or embarrass them by leaving a well-respected professional job was paralyzing for a while.

But I needed to remind myself that I was safe, that I was loved, and that was because I was me, not because of what I did.

Steps to Self-Trust

My question to you today is where do you need to trust yourself? What decisions are coming up for you that require you to lean into yourself and into your gut instincts? In order to get there, do the following:

  1. Step one, brain dump your feelings in a journal, write them down because writing them down helps you to literally see what’s coming up.
  2. Step two is to notice what’s coming up for you and to ask yourself whether you want it to stay the same or do you want it to change?
  3. And then Step three, based on how you feel, make the necessary changes in your life.

And while you do it, remind yourself that you are safe and that you are loved and that you’re entitled to make changes in your life to feel better.

Healing and Creating Your Dream Life

If you feel disconnected from your self -trust, this is where I encourage you to start. Just start writing and see what comes up. And of course, I’m here to help you if you need more support.

I start all of my coaching sessions by asking my clients to write down who they want to be and how they want to feel in their ideal world. I tell them just to write without restriction or judgment so they can see what their hearts truly desire.

Based on what comes up, we end up creating a filter to decide, what items, tasks, or responsibilities they want to eliminate and what experience they want to include. It’s incredibly powerful because not only are they honoring their desires, but they’re actually taking steps to turn their dream lives into reality.

The same is available for you too.

If you want to learn more, head to ashawilkerson.com/coaching.

Thanks for tuning in today and please remember:

It’s because I’ve healed that I’ve been able to repair old relationships and start new ones from a different perspective. It’s because I’ve healed that I’ve been able to leave expectations behind that no longer serve me. And it’s because I’ve healed that I’m currently living my dream life out loud with no regrets.

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