Can You Fully Trust Yourself?
Have you ever been around someone who was absolutely certain about something but then were shown to be dead wrong?
Probably, right? It’s such a common thing in our lives. Our friend marches up to some girl he swears likes him but gets rejected. Our parents know exactly what we want for Christmas but guess wrong. Our coworker knows exactly how to get some client but fails. Our government gathers intelligence but their plan is doomed to fail.
And we’re just as fallible. We get into relationships, start businesses, set plans and make predictions that reveal that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
I know this might make you feel worried. In this realization you may ask yourself, “How can I ever trust myself?”
Firstly, please do not give into black and white thinking. Trusting yourself completely and distrusting yourself completely are two extremes that will only lead to cataclysmic problems.
Communism and the execution of that ideology was an idea that many people from different countries totally believed in. For many centuries, our ancestors believed the Earth was flat. They also believed the Sun rotated around the Earth.
J.P. Morgan’s father told him that electricity was just a fad. Steve Ballmer said that the iPhone would never get any significant market share. I thought the coronavirus wouldn’t become a pandemic.
See? People are wrong all the time but some beliefs have major ramifications.
On the other hand, there are inventions, music, theories, philosophies, books and apps that the world will never know because these ideas have died with the person(s) who dreamt them.
The only way we know these stories are as anecdotes. Your grandpa tells you that he had the same idea for the washing machine but just never followed through. Your friend auditioned with Molly Ringwald in the 80s but didn’t make the second audition.
Not trusting yourself can cost you in life. It can rob others of the gifts you have to give. You have a talent that people want and because of a lack of self-belief, people are deprived of your gift.
The closest stories we have to these are the cautionary tales of people who were doing amazing things and then lost their way. I can think of Amy Winehouse, George Best and Marilyn Munroe.
But what about those who trust themselves but could also acknowledge that they could be or were wrong?
When trying to develop a strong adhesive for 3M, Spencer Silver came up with the opposite — a semi-adhesive that could be lifted up easily. In terms of what Silver was trying to create, he got it wrong. But in ten years, 3M would sell his adhesive and stick it to paper bookmarks. They called it Post-it Notes.
Silver’s story is somewhat uncommon. Penicillin, the pacemaker and corn flakes were all mistakes that eventually were celebrated. Harrison Ford, John Grisham and Ellen DeGeneres all had different careers until they found the ones that led them to the jobs they are now famous for.
These stories are uncommon for two reasons. Firstly, once people see that they were wrong, they give up. They start to doubt themselves, never maximize their potential and leave the rest of us without their talent.
Secondly, when people see that they were right (or at least right to some extent), they develop a self-righteousness where they fear being wrong and their pride won’t let them admit that they made a mistake.
These reasons are really just the same duality of either not trusting yourself at all or trusting yourself completely that I mentioned earlier.
When all is said and done, it is hard to trust someone who doesn’t believe in themselves. They will lead you and themselves into circles; you’ll never go anywhere.
But it is also hard to trust someone who trusts themselves completely. How the hell can they know exactly what’s going to happen? How can they know the things that they don’t know? They can’t. So to have such blind faith is probably a sign of a psychopath or a fool.
So the best path is to do your research and based on that you trust yourself and what you decide to do, but admit that you could be wrong because you can’t know all the variables.
There will be times in our lives when we will have a decision to make. We won’t know if what we choose is right, and we might beat up ourselves for it. Don’t.
Ultimately, we cannot fully trust ourselves because we can’t know if we know ourselves totally; we can’t say we know the world fully; we cannot ever predict what an outcome will be; and we don’t know what we don’t know.
But make a decision anyway and follow through. If it serves you, continue. If it doesn’t and it cannot be repurposed in anyway, let it go. You were wrong, and that’s perfectly fine.
Make a new decision and try again.