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A wise counselor friend recently told me that the biggest issue he works on with his clients is co-dependence.
He went on to say, “No one knows you better than you know yourself. Putting on other people’s opinions of what you should or shouldn’t do, or about who you are, is like sending someone else out to buy a pair of shoes for you. They may know what your size is, but they could never know from the outside how the shoes feel on your feet.”
Nothing could have greater truth.
Yet it is so easy to discount that. It’s so easy to forget, ignore or dismiss what we know.
Often when we are in a tight spot emotionally we do the headless chicken thing: running around in diminishing circles asking one person after another what they think we should do.
Doing this, we are acting out our assumptions that other people know more about our lives than we do.
Perhaps we trust them more than we trust ourselves.
And we are certainly telling ourselves that their insights and experience have more value than our own.
They do not.
You are the only person witnessing your life at every moment. You are the only person experiencing your life from the inside out. No one knows you better than you know yourself.
Valuing what you know, you shift your center of gravity from outside yourself to inside yourself where it belongs.
This doesn’t mean you won’t continue to be interested in what other people think.
You will be.
But you will value their views and opinions differently.
And you will certainly value yourself and your treasure-trove of experiences differently.
Understanding yourself better, you will know that it is you, and not someone else, who is making your crucial life choices.
Understanding yourself better, you will know what your strengths are and how to use them.
Understanding yourself better, you will be slower to judge some situations as bad, others as good; some as welcome, others as unwelcome.
You will see how much you can learn from every situation.
You will also see how powerfully your own beliefs and attitudes influence events.
Understanding yourself better, you will see that what happens to you matters less than your own reactions.
This is wonderful because you always have far more choice and control about your reactions than you do about what happens.
Understanding yourself better, you will feel less vulnerable, less fearful.
Your sense of stability will come from what you know and trust about yourself rather than other people’s highly subjective opinions.
Understanding yourself better, you will feel much less pushed around by your moods and the thoughts that drive them.
Understanding yourself better, you can’t help but understand other people better also.
You will be less dependent and more appreciative.
You will take both praise and setbacks far less personally.
You will accept your own complexity and contradictions and accept that same reality in other people’s lives.
Understanding yourself better, you will be much less inclined to see yourself as a victim of past events or other people’s lack of kindness.
When you have suffered trauma or hurt, you will be more inclined to get the support and professional help that you need to heal, reconcile with your own situation, and gain whatever insights you can from all of your many experiences.
Bob Mueller is the assistant vice president of mission & stewardship at Hosparus. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.