“I think it happens to a lot of women. We get caught up fulfilling other people’s expectations and we end up feeling lost.”
How do we know when something isn’t right for us? Can we truly trust our own intuition if it puts us on a path that’s at odds with the beliefs or expectations of others? We often talk about trusting our intuition, but it seems there’s always another voice—or many—that wants a say in how we should live our lives.
Women in particular are presented with the challenge of navigating cultural and societal expectations around marriage, motherhood, and their career choices. To avoid disappointing others, we sometimes tune out that inner voice that’s trying to guide us towards a life that, while it may not be considered traditional, feels right to us. But at what cost?
This is the focus of the recent work of Piia Tuominen, host of the upcoming Self-Trust Summit. A self-described “gentle rebel” from Finland, Piia started out like many of us—following a path that did not feel like it belonged to her. In anticipation of the multi-day summit event, she sat down with us to share a little bit about her story.
Living Out of Alignment
As someone who struggled to trust herself in the past, Piia has a deep understanding of the challenges women face when it comes to trusting our intuition. “There have been many moments in my past when I’ve had a strong feeling that something was right for me,” she shares. “But at the same time, there was a lot of pressure to do what I was ‘supposed’ to do according to others.”
Although Piia became interested in psychology at an early age and went on to pursue the subject at university, she still struggled with the feeling that she was out of alignment with her values. Having been bullied in school, she suffered from depression and low self-esteem well into adulthood. This in turn led her to begin an unhealthy relationship that further exacerbated her mental state and ultimately landed her in the hospital. “That was a big part of my life for many years. I was literally told at one point, ‘even therapy can’t help you’ and that I’d be on medication for the rest of my life.”
Learning to Listen
A turning point came in 2009 when Piia met the man who would later become her husband. After connecting online from 400 km (about 250 miles) away, she decided to pack up and move to the other side of Finland following their first in-person meeting. “A lot of people told me not to do it—after all, I had only just recently met the man—but we both had such a strong feeling that it was the right move for us.”
More than a decade later, the pair still live together. This was one of the first moments Piia realized she was listening to her inner voice even though it went against the advice of others.
After participating in a two-year therapy training course, she began to let go of more limiting beliefs and look at herself in a new light. Piia learned we can make friends with our mind and use it in a way that supports us. She believes strongly that this inner wisdom is something we all possess.
Making Space to Ask New Questions
Over the years, Piia has continued on this path of challenging cultural norms. Having what some would consider a more untraditional family—that is, a pet-centric one with two cats, four parrots, and no kids in the plans–Piia has had to learn to be okay with others questioning her choices. “If you start to do things differently, it can be very difficult for others to accept.”
The decision to not follow a traditional path can lead to a lot of questions since we are often told we are supposed to want certain things and if we don’t, there might be something wrong with us. Piia suggests trying to get comfortable with others questioning your decisions and listening to that inner voice asking, “Is this good for me? Is this really what I want for my life? Is there something else I would like to have instead of this house, kids, job?”
With the Self-Trust Summit, she aims to facilitate a discussion around how we can create a community that supports us in challenging these assumptions and gives us space to talk about other ways to live without judgment.
Piia’s experience shows us we can develop the skills needed to better support our mental health and learn to forge our own paths. Her advice to others starting out? Ask thoughtful questions and try to avoid labels. “When I notice I’m stuck, I try to keep an open mind and start asking questions. Maybe you thought you weren’t capable of something in the past but that doesn’t mean you should accept that view as fact. If you notice you’re starting to put yourself in a box, hop out! It’s very liberating not to limit yourself in that way.”
This is exactly how the Self-Trust Summit came to be. Although Piia had known for a while she wanted to get more involved in the exploration of self-trust, when she first encountered the idea of holding a summit, she says her initial reaction was to shut it down. “I thought, ‘No, that’s not for me. I’m not the type of person who holds a summit.’ But then I started to pay closer attention to those thoughts and remove the labels. I realized it was something I could do, something I wanted to do.”
In the Summit, Piia will share insights from herself and others about how to trust our intuition and start making choices based on our personal values. “I think it happens to a lot of women. We get caught up fulfilling other people’s expectations and we end up feeling lost. I’m honored to have this opportunity to share the stories of other women who have had similar periods in their life where they experienced the feeling of not truly knowing themselves.”
Piia’s interviews for the Self-Trust Summit will air daily starting on Tuesday, May 24 and continuing through Thursday, June 2. You can sign up here. Her Nexx Chapter’s own Founder and CVO Lady Chap will be featured on June 2 so don’t miss it!