Trust, at least when it comes to others, is one of those things that can be difficult to build and extremely easy to lose.
But can the same be said for self-trust, that is, in the trust we have in ourselves?
“Self-trust is the first secret to success.” – Emerson
It’s been said that self-trust is the learned skill in which we become confident in relying on our inner resources (e.g., emotional, mental, and physical) to navigate the world. It means we trust ourselves to survive situations, practice kindness, and refuse to give up on ourselves.
This is something we are all born with…infants know when they’re hungry, toddlers know what they like to eat and who they want to socialize with. As children, we grow up knowing ourselves; our tastes, preferences, rhythms. It is only when the “big people” tell us they know better, we believe them and our intrinsic self-trust becomes buried.
We grow up conditioned to constantly seek approval and guidance from others instead of trusting our own. We ultimately end up growing up suffering from self-doubt: crippling indecision, constant desire for approval, perfectionism, and the fear of failure.
Added to our assumption that everyone else around us knows better than we do is the constant need for external validation. We learn early in our lives that if we do something “right,” we will get smiles and nods of approval from those around us.
The happiness and reassurance we feel is short-lived and is often not sustainable as we keep searching for more and more external validation. We could get to a point of achieving everything externally that we thought would bring us happiness (the job, the marriage, the house, etc.), but we could very easily get to a point where we are still left without sustainable fulfillment.
Self-trust is that sustainable fulfillment.
Healthy self-trust means that we know where to go next, we trust our decisions (both big and small), and we’re willing to take risks. We aren’t afraid to fail or make mistakes because our sense of self isn’t based upon how others feel about us.
“What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one, she’s already had everything she needs within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not.” – Rupi Kaur
I have recently had my self-trust tested a lot, and it will continue to be tested as I embark on this next phase of my life. There will be those who question my decision, wondering if I will fail or if this is just a big mistake.
But you know what? None of that matters. I trust that this is the right decision for me. And that is self-trust.
How can we restore self-trust?
When it comes to internal work, the thing to remember is that it takes time. Our minds are stubborn and don’t like change. Building up our own internal self-trust takes time, practice, commitment, and most important of all, patience.
Check in with yourself and the beginning and end of each day
I know I am guilty of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and have also (up until recently) looked at my phone or iPad while in bed. Try reaching for a journal instead or engage in a short and simple yoga or breath practice. This allows you to focus attention on yourself instead of what’s happening around you.
Say goodbye to those who undermine your self-trust
We may not have had much control over who we spent our time around when we were children, but we certainly do as adults (with some exceptions of course). The naysayers, the ones who try to undermine your success and squash your dreams. These people do not belong in your close circle.
Take stock of the people in your life. Be sure that you are surrounding yourself with those who believe in you, want the best for you, and encourage you.
Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion…there is going to be a whole other blog post on this topic. We all have that voice inside our heads, the one that berates us when we make a mistake. We can practice reducing or even eliminating this voice by catching ourselves the next time we start to talk negatively to ourselves. Instead, say something like, “okay, that was a mistake, but I’ll learn from it and I’m going to be okay.”
Kristen Neff has a wonderful book called Self-Compassion that you should definitely read if you want to learn more about this. Brene Brown also has some wonderful books on vulnerability and shame. Her book Daring Greatly is one of my favourites.
Go on a social media diet
You all know that I’m normally anti-diet, but that is when it comes to food. A social media diet could be really good for our mental state, especially if we struggle with caring about what others think.
It’s nearly impossible to go onto Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. without comparing ourselves to others in some way. We see their highlight reel and compare it to our real, everyday lives.
I use Facebook and Instagram daily for my online business, but other than that, I try to limit my use of it. Try to go a day without it. Or try to set aside certain times during the day that you will check-in, but make it off-limits any other time. At the suggestion of my coach, I’ve started putting my technology away at least 90min before bedtime. I will instead spend this time reading or writing. I’ve already finished a novel and am halfway through a second one since starting this practice.