If there is a through line in my life, both personally and as a writer, it is to identify and develop those qualities that help us grow individually and collectively in wisdom and love. That’s ultimately why I’m so interested in self trust. “Wisdom,” Buddhist monk Khandro Rinpoche says, “is innate in us; it is not something that can be bought, heard or received from the outside.” In other words, we must look within to find it. It can’t come from anyone but us. Without self trust, we can never become wise because we will continue to look outside ourselves for the answer. As for love, it is only when we are grounded in our own beingness, comfortable with who and what we are, that we can enter into a truly loving encounter with another human being. Otherwise we are using the other person to meet our needs for security or approval rather than entering fully into the soul-growing encounter that a real loving relationship promises.

These inner qualities of self awareness and self reliance are crucial to go through hard times and make it out on the other side. We learn we can survive difficult feelings—depression, sorrow, a sense of meaninglessness—and we learn what helped us make it so when hard times come again, we’re better prepared. Our feelings are no longer so threatening to us, and we are able to serve as guides and mentors to others who suffer.

Ultimately, the greatest rewards of trusting ourselves are to be found at the soul level, the place where we are called to discover and express the wholeness of who we are for the benefit of all. “A self is made, not given,” says author Barbara Myerhoff. “It is a creative and active process of attending a life that must be heard, shaped, seen, said aloud into the world, finally enacted and woven into the lives of others.” We can’t do that if we are looking outside ourselves for the answers. As that wise man, Carl Jung once said, “He who looks outside dreams. He who looks inside wakes.”

I am inviting you on a journey to look inside in a new way and awaken. Not to detail what is wrong, but to come to deeply treasure what is right. And to use what you discover to make your way more happily in life and to offer the gifts that only you can provide. For the more you trust yourselves, the more you will know just what your place in the grand design of life is and what your matchless contribution might be.

Author's Bio: 

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.