Few institutions would dare to encourage self-trust. Instead, most authorities teach us to become placid participants in various systems. They do not teach us to be happy. If anything, they underline the dangers of freedom and the importance of control.

Because these notions are so common—in our schools and churches, at the dinner table, and on the evening news—we begin to learn what we think is a universal truth: we must hold ourselves together. We learn that if we let ourselves go, we will become evil, lazy, savage. We learn the importance of pressure and restraint. We learn to repress our genuine desires because they’re incompatible with society’s expectations. We learn that if we are not doing well in a school subject or a self-improvement plan, then we are not pushing ourselves hard enough. We learn that people who succeed are examples of this kind of pushing. We learn that those who stop doing something only because it feels wrong are lazy.

Even people who oppose one institution’s dogma often end up buying into another’s. It is difficult to escape these teachings because they are so ubiquitous.

Humans are pattern-seeking, storytelling animals. From the world around you, you have learned which patterns to seek and which stories to tell. Your unconscious inner conversation has helped you mimic the people around you rather than understand yourself better. When you learn, from a young age, to fear, ignore, and suppress parts of your experience, you can only tell half the story. You remain an acquaintance to your reflection instead of an intimate friend.

To live how you feel is right takes the same effort as to live how you’re told is right. The work is the same. What is different is the reward. No amount of approval and no size of achievement can ever fill the space reserved for your opinion of yourself.

Of course, in the real world, we need both. We cannot live only by our own expectations. I wouldn’t suggest driving on the opposite side of the road simply because you “feel that it’s right.” Self-trust is not about rebellion, and it’s not about hedonism. It’s about realizing that all your experiences—your thoughts, your emotions, your dreams—are valid. They exist for a reason.

Accepting this reality does not require you to believe each thought, act on each emotion, or fulfill each dream. Quite the contrary, embracing each part of your experience gives you the ability to understand it, explore it, and integrate it.

Instead of labeling your emotions as problems to solve, you can see them as signals to interpret. Instead of judging your desires as shameful aberrations, you can learn to meet them in healthier ways. Instead of calling yourself critical names when you cannot build or break certain habits, you can explore your motivations.

You can become a student of yourself rather than always seeking a wiser teacher.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Chris Agnos is doing a great job for popularizing interesting ideas of the abstract nature, by creating easier to grasp visual image narrative. However, I would like to suggest that the name of the author is made more prominent, as well as THE NAME OF HER QUOTED BOOK IS LISTED, especially including in the transcript, so the viewers can find the entire book easier.

By the way, I find this particular segment to be very well written narrative on the subject of the pressure of the societal conventional conditioning for internalizing the common blind spots of others as personal ones, due to the yearning for tribal approval, internally driven by the fear of not fitting in and fir this reason, using emotional self-repression on the unconscious level. The issue of emotional self-repression is actually the root cause for many mental dysfunctions, and lacking self-trust is only one of them. So, the understanding of this subject and self-awareness is the most critical part of sustaining personal sensory capacity that should be able to inform us of such critical for our self-preservation issues as our tolerance to harmful chemicals that are accepted by the corrupt legislators in USA, while other civilized countries banned them years ago.
Another draw back of this feature is not providing the solution to the highlighted problem - the sensory re-awakening that can be achieved through the practice of music and the Arts.

By the way, I was going to quote this segment in my own upcoming publications on emotional self-repression among musicians, whose purpose should be in reactivation of the numbed down sensory capacity. But, due to the centuries-old flawed pressures of performing music with a restrained emotional expression, that, in fact, was openly objected by the visionary composer of all time and unsurpassed Music Genius J.S.Bach. Paradoxically, his passion for pursuing this important for our normal mental functioning matter, had not been merely grasped by the majority of Bach scholars and performers. And as the result, even the fact that composer had been unfairly punished by the false imprisonment for his such open protests against psychological damaging convention isn't fully acknowledged. Incredibly and most unfittingly to our time of universally proclaimed democracy, the exam standards and various other institutional channels mandate for his music to be performed contrary to Bach’s deliberate choice of compositional tools that call for the obvious emotional intensity, including intensely dissonant sororities. Ironically, and yet traumatically for musicians and most unfairly for the timeless Spirit of the composer who is often called the 5th evangelist, the music of this insightful rebellious Ativist, had become the source of developmental childhood trauma for very many musicians. How could it's special intention to heal from this very culprit of emotional self-repression be hidden from so many generations of musicians with many honors for their musical accomplishments? The reason for such illogical universal practice of blind spot is well-defined and illustrated by this segment. In fact, this societal convention of emotional self-repression should be contrary foreign to Music of Bach particularly because it creates life-long traumatic impact with significant cognitive and emotional dissonance that is hard to pinpoint to its source without having this awareness. It has so much impact on most of musicians, because Bach’s pedagogical skills made it to be the integral part of musical upbringing, since it lays foundational skills on all level of mastery, as arithmetics and algebra for math studies. Today, centuries after Bach’s passing, his legacy is yet to be liberated from the absurd tradition of imprisonment by the distortion and disfiguring of the very essence of his music... However, despite the challenges, the fact that the majority of musicians have to deal with recovery from these emotional obstacles, and their need to share it with their audiences, comes with the promise for bringing the public attention and much deserved prominence to currently unfairly unknown field of Expressive Arts and Music Therapy that is the future of currently largely dysfunctional field of clinical psychology, bound by this above featured hazardous convention of emotional self-repression.

The Space Between Stories