“The person you need to trust first is yourself. No one can be as consistently supportive of you as you can learn to be. Being kind to yourself increases self-confidence and lessens your need for approval. Loving and caring for yourself not only increases self-trust, it also deepens your connection with others.” – Cynthia Wall, LCSW
As children, we’re conditioned to listen to our elders and do what our parents tell us so we can stay safe and not repeat their mistakes. That’s not all bad but that same mindset spills over into adulthood in the form of seeking approval and external validation for our choices, feelings and actions. This eventually leads to low self-esteem, debilitating indecision, fear of failure, trouble defining success for ourselves and the most common – perfectionism. Developing self-trust is the ultimate way to take back control of your life. Imagine living a life where you had the first and last word on the decisions you make. A life where you could share your thoughts and decisions with your loved ones without having your next move hang in the balance of their opinions. It might sound far off from your current way of living, but a life like that is possible once you develop self-trust.
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” — Golda Meir
Self-trust is a learned skill that develops over time. It’s having full faith in your inner resources – emotional, mental and spiritual.
There isn’t a prescriptive set of tips that’ll help you develop it, but you can start with these 4 suggestions to develop self-trust –
1. Honor your feelings – Whenever I’m upset, my mom always says, “Take time to feel how you feel. Really feel it all and then decide what to do next.” She taught me from a young age to never skip the important step of feeling and honoring my feelings. How you feel is never wrong and the quicker you honor your feelings, the quicker you can move on with a clear head. Suppressed feelings have a way of eventually revealing themselves. Any time I’ve skipped this step, those same feelings crept back in and clouded my judgement, making me second guess myself, the opposite of self-trust. Honoring your feeling will also teach you how to deal with them as situations arise, and not completely fall apart every time something happens. When you experience a familiar feeling, you’ll think Ok, this is how I felt last time and this is what I did. You can look within to get through it instead of retreating and seeking outside validation.
2. Fail forward – Learn from every mistake and move forward bolder, stronger and with more (and better!) information. And while you’re learning, avoid making generalizations about your behavior. One mistake isn’t the average result of all the decisions you make. Not even close. Every mistake is strengthening your self-trust muscle.
3. Make decisions with absolute truths – This is my favorite practice for building my self-trust. If you haven’t read my post on this, click here for the framework. Have faith in your decision-making ability by self-checking your decisions against your absolute truths. These truths are all about you so no one can write them for you.
4. Keep the promises you make to yourself – Sounds cheesy but keeping promises to yourself builds self-trust because you know you can count on yourself. Start small by picking one thing you want to do and follow through on it. Can you count on yourself to stay committed to your workouts? Can you keep that promise of eating more fruit and drinking more water? Can you stay committed to doings things that bring you joy and excitement? There’s just something about knowing you can count on yourself when all else fails.
Trusting yourself takes time just like building muscle. The more you practice it, the stronger you’ll get until one day you look up and notice how different your life has become…and how much more settled you feel with your decisions and actions. Developing self-trust isn’t about perfection. You don’t have to know exactly what to do and say all the time. It’s about having full faith in your inner resources – emotional, mental and spiritual – to overcome whatever life hands you.