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Being the Expert on Yourself

You are the best expert on yourself. You have, by far, more knowledge about yourself than anyone else. No one else lives inside your body or inside your brain. No one else has ever experienced exactly what you have experienced. And no one else can know what you want to do with your life—your goals and dreams. (I remember when a vocational counselor showed me my file and it contained goals for my life and how I was going to meet those goals—a document I had never seen. I was flabbergasted!)

If you are like most of us, when you come upon troubling times, experience distressing symptoms or need to make some life changes, you look outside yourself for answers. And you will find that there are many people who will be delighted to direct you, to make decisions for you, to take action on your behalf. You may reach out to your partner or another family member, friends, colleagues, a religious or spiritual advisor, a counselor or therapist, a medical doctor or medical specialist (such as a psychiatrist), a nutritionist, an acupuncturist—the list goes on and on. And while all of these people may be able to provide some help, information or guidance, you may overlook the most important authority—you! If you overlook your own inner guidance as a source of wisdom, your course of action may prove to be less than helpful.

If I Had It to Do Over Again…

In 1976, I was experiencing another deep depression—one of a succession of depressions that have troubled me throughout my life. I had never looked at the possible causes of these depressions. I thought they were something outside of myself and that I couldn’t control them; that these depressions controlled me.

This time, I decided to reach out for help. I went to see a psychiatrist and described my symptoms. He told me that, like my mother, I had manic depression and, if I took lithium and an antidepressant, I would be fine. I accepted his diagnosis and took the medications he prescribed.

Being the Expert on Yourself

Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Copeland, M. (2020). Being the Expert on Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.