I have some amazing people in my life. People that love me to the core; people that bolster me up when I’m down; people that lovingly turn my head when I’m facing the wrong direction. There is nothing like meeting a good friend over hot tomato soup after a tough week – catching up on each other’s lives, sharing inspiring stories, crying together, and reminding each other what makes each of you wonderful, unique, and valuable.
I feel strongly about what I’m going to write about tonight. I have had the opportunity to know some incredibly strong women and men in my life. They exude a strength that I always felt alluded me. A resolve, a self-confidence, a solid rock in the center of their being that never allows them to waver in their self-worth. Now they are not perfect, of course, everyone has their issues, but I’ve always greatly admired this part of them; it’s a part of me I am belaboring to build and develop.
(Don’t worry, I will get to the part where I tell you what it is!)
I think I’ve always had a stubborn streak about me. I recall times in my younger years when I was unafraid to argue or step up on my soapbox when I felt injustices were being committed. But I always had an awful time making decisions. I did NOT like to decide!! It ties back directly to my perfectionistic tendencies and fear of making the wrong choice, but it crippled me in many ways, especially when there were those around willing to make the decision for me. Be it a parent, a friend, a teacher, an authority, God, or a spiritual mentor, I always preferred to let someone take the responsibility for the final decision.
Though I have grown in this area throughout my life, I’d like to dispense the advice I would LOVE to go back in time to give myself in my teen years:
KNOW YOUR MIND.
Know what you think. Know your opinion. Know the decision you would make it if were up to you. As a teenager or young adult, you are often in a situation where you don’t get a lot of say. It’s easy to throw your hands up in the air in frustration or simply enjoy the lack of responsibility that comes with being young. But no matter the situation, know your mind.
Even if it’s not your decision; know your mind.
Even if you know others will disagree; know your mind.
Even if you never express it because you are afraid of the response you might get; know your mind.
Even if you decide to default to someone else’s opinion; know your mind.
Even if you decide to leave the decision in God’s hands; know your mind.
No matter the situation, take the time – even if a few minutes is all you have – to think it through. Weigh the good and the bad, look at the logical and emotional consequences, consider how you feel about the situation, consider what you’ve been taught by your parents, your education, your religion, your mentors. And begin learning how to sort through, weigh, combine, and contrast those things to come to a conclusion that you feel confident about. Know what your mind wants. Know what your mind needs. Know what your mind thinks. Even if you find out it’s wrong. Even if you find out it’s right or good, but what you wanted was not an option.
There will be many times in your life when the better solution to your problem comes from the advice of someone else, or from putting your faith in God (if you believe in one), or from leaning on the teachings of your upbringing despite your reservations. That’s OK. Do what you feel is right; follow your instincts. But I wish that, when I was younger, I would have spent more time thinking things through first. I wish I had made my own decision and formed my own opinion before approaching someone else for advice, or asking God for guidance, or defaulting to what I knew and what was most comfortable.
And then what? Own your decision. Own that you decided to follow someone else’s advice, but never forget what you wanted to choose because you NEVER KNOW the right answer or decision until after the decision has been made and the action is complete.
Knowing your mind is about two things:
1) Taking responsibility for your opinions and your final decisions.
2) Knowing yourself, what drives you, what you value, and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.
The day may very well come when these skills come in handy because you will have no one but yourself to rely on to make a given decision (don’t be confused – you are always the only one you can rely on in decision-making; everyone else is simply an information provider or a spiritual guide, but the final decision is always yours – However the day may come when you have no one to turn to for advice or direction). But don’t do this for any other reason but for yourself. Do it simply because you are valuable, your opinions are valuable, your decisions are valuable (right or wrong), and you have intrinsic worth that deems that you can think and believe whatever you choose.
And if you already do this – that’s awesome. Find a friend to share it with. Discuss your thoughts, your ideas, your opinions – even your wacky ones. Find friends like I have: that love you, embrace who you are, and see your incredible potential. You are doing wonders for your own personal development and inspiring others to the same.
Be Real. Be You. Know Yourself. Know Your Mind. Embrace it.
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