Like many things in my life, when I found spirituality, I became obsessed with enlightening myself. I dove headfirst into Ayurveda, Whole 30, Paleo, Keto/Bulletproof, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and at least half a dozen more health modalities and spiritual practices. Any desire I had I would question, criticize or analyze it beyond recognition. There was always the pressure to do the “enlightened” things and deny any potentially human/ego desire I had … that was a big one. Ego was this big, bad, dirty thing I had to get rid of. Basically the whole spiritual thing felt like a chore that I had no desire to keep doing.

It took taking a huge step back from everything to realize all the ways that I had been hiding. The truth was that I had never known how to trust my own voice. I was raised thinking I would always have to rely on someone or something else to save me or protect me or tell me what to do. I was so programmed to listen and do what I was told, that my intuition muscle was beyond atrophied. My preoccupation with finding the right thing to help me had actually been keeping me feeling small.

It then became time to take inventory of everything that worked and everything that didn’t. I started with the really clear stuff like food–I definitely felt better not eating gluten. I tried making it a habit to actually ask myself what I wanted to eat and wait for an answer. By stopping, breathing and asking the question, I was interrupting my usual eating pattern, thus creating more awareness around how I was feeling. I started to tap into my own body in a much deeper way and that began to spread into other choices like what I wanted to wear, when I wanted to sleep or when I felt like standing up to stretch. For some, these may seem like easy decisions but for me, really taking the time to ask myself what I wanted in those small ways produced so much self-worth and confidence. With every choice, I created not only more self-autonomy but became more and more certain in my knowing that I was fully capable of deciphering exactly what I needed when I needed it. It all simply came down to how I was feeling in any given situation and trusting that feeling no matter what. It became about stepping into my worth and really owning what I wanted without shame and believing that I truly deserved it. Yes, even the “ego” stuff.

So many books, teachers, philosophies, gurus and even podcasts nowadays spend everyday telling us the “best” way to live our lives. All promise that their way guarantees freedom, peace, happiness, trust and all the other juicy things we crave. I’m grateful for all of them and value every pearl of wisdom I have taken and integrated into my life. More importantly though, I feel blessed that at the end of it all, after all the many different roads, I found my way back to my own internal compass. So in a way, it’s true that they guarantee you those things, because hopefully, they make you realize that no one knows you better than yourself. Take all the tools you need to clear away the programming and conditioning. Keep chipping away at the shell that you were forced to build up around yourself. Stop shaming yourself for what you most deeply desire. When all the searching is done and you’ve taken in as much as you can, the time will come when it’s just you with yourself. Worry not though, you’ll be ready and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a power you never knew existed. It is limitless, boundless and will never, ever steer you wrong.

Julia Piantini