Recently I realised, I’m now at a point where I trust myself – to make decisions, handle whatever comes along and continue creating a life I love. I was sharing this with a friend of mine as it felt like a really pivotal moment in my own growth and worthy of celebration and acknowledgement. She was beautifully celebratory and also curious about what I was experiencing. She asked me a few questions that made for an interesting conversation for us both. I felt to share these questions and answers (with a little finessing and elaboration on my part) with you too in case they offer something of value…
Q. How do you know you can trust yourself? I don’t know if I can trust myself or not.
Well, when you really stop and think about it, when you look back on your life – today, this week, this month, last year, the last five years, the last ten, haven’t you survived everything that you’ve experienced? Trusting myself has grown through recognising that I’ve navigated life’s challenges, learned from experiences, and made necessary adjustments. I think it’s the learning I’ve done that’s built up that trust the most. I guess you could say it is ‘earned’ trust.
Of course, we naturally grow and evolve as we mature, but we also have ‘seasons’ in our lives where we do it more fervently or where life throws us into steep learning curves. It can be easy to coast along and not be actively growing but I’ve made my own learning and growth a big focus in recent years. As a result, I’ve become stronger in myself, clearer, and living more in line with what’s right for me.
I definitely back myself more now than ever before and I think a big reason for that is that I’ve realised that I know what’s good for me. That’s not to say I don’t have teachers and guides that show me more, they do, and so I add in what fits and keep up-levelling. But I always come back to centre and listen to myself. And I have faith in this wisdom.
Q. What if I haven’t been there for myself though? What if I’ve screwed up a bit?
Oh, we’ve all screwed up a bit! It sounds so clichéd, but our biggest growth comes from our biggest botches and toughest challenges. Our wisdom rises out of those (sometimes cringingly uncomfortable!) moments of reflection and have proven to be my most significant source of growth.
I haven’t always been there for myself. It’s taken a lot of my adult life to stand for myself, to have my own back and to feel okay doing so. I’m a recovering people-pleaser so I’ve been hard-wired to make sure everyone else is comfortable and happy and taken care of before myself. It took losing my health ten years ago to finally learn to be there for myself first. I’m like a Mama bear with my wellbeing now – and not just my physical health but across the board; my emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing too. I protect and nourish this at all costs, and totally trust myself to do so. I don’t always get it right. I might spend too much time around a person or situation that drains my energy, or I might eat something that doesn’t serve my body, but these days I quickly course-correct and do what I need to replenish myself. I can rely on myself to be able to respond to life. I know I am 100% response-able.
I trust myself to be able to respond to life. I know I am 100% response-able.
Q. What do you think stops us from trusting ourselves?
Well, there can be several things getting in the way of trusting ourselves, but common themes are trusting others before ourselves, self-doubt and self-judgment (that inner critic!)
Few of us were encouraged to trust ourselves and more likely encouraged, perhaps even conditioned, to trust in authority figures (parents, teachers, bosses, ‘experts’). Our inner knowing; our minds, our hearts, our instincts, is more solid than any advice someone can give us. I’m big on asking advice and getting other’s perspectives and I’m always really grateful for it, but I feel no obligation at all to act on it. I’ve learned that in my health journey; I’ve had phenomenal help and expertise from many others along the way, but I also had to become my own healer and doctor. I’m in charge!
Self-doubt or a strong inner critic can be a real handbrake. I’ve done a lot to transform my inner critic and thankfully I now have a beautiful, loving, sincere voice that speaks louder a lot of the time. Finally in my 40’s I can honestly say I love myself. (And yes, my inner bitch still comes out occasionally, but she is no longer running the show!)
Self-judgment and pushing/pressuring yourself will make it hard to trust yourself because you’re often missing useful information from situations while you’re focused inwardly on the self-judgements, and because, if you’re pushing yourself then you’re overriding your instincts.
Q. Do you think we sometimes trust others more than ourselves?
Definitely – especially out of habit based on what I was saying about being taught to trust others more than ourselves! If you ask someone else what they think before you’ve even checked in with yourself about it (even about something as simple as what movie you want to watch) then you’re probably in the habit of referencing ‘others’ before yourself. This is people-pleasing in action and it’s often such an ingrained habit you don’t even realise you’re doing it. (By the way, this can annoy others because they usually want you to have your own opinion!). Be sure to recognise this compassionately and see it for what it is: an old pattern, and one you can transform.
Breaking this pattern often requires self-awareness and boundary setting. I can recall experiences with friends who I’ve made plans with or who have offered help me in some way and then gone back on their offer or changed their plans. This can really hurt, especially if you have wounding around being let down, unimportant, left out, etc. Seemingly harmless practical situations can really trigger us because the younger parts of us that experienced rejection or emotional neglect are now experiencing them as hurt all over again. That’s why deeper healing of those younger parts of us is so profound. It heals the adult self – or rather the younger self – so that the adult self can be in more wholeness and emotional equilibrium.
When plans change, I find it is often at least in part because we didn’t map out all the details beforehand and make clear agreements. Nowadays, until there are really clear agreements, I focus on trusting myself, and then once there is clear agreement, I gauge how appropriate it is to trust the other person and the arrangement. Trust yourself first and honour your needs and wants.
If you’re pushing yourself in any way at all, you’re overriding your instincts.
Q. What do you think made the biggest difference in learning to trust yourself?
I think building my inner loving voice and really learning to love and honour myself has been HUGE, but I also think a crucial factor has been the courage to be brutally honest with myself. Self-love is not namby-pamby-cotton-candy-I-love-you-no-matter-what kind of thinking. It is about unconditional love, no doubt about it, but if we’re loving ourselves unconditionally and then ignoring where we’re being duplicitous with people or letting ourselves down by not taking wise action then how are we going to trust ourselves? Or live an aligned and happy life?
I had to get brutally honest with myself about what I was tolerating, what I truly want, and things like what I had or hadn’t done to end up in certain situations. The trick is to accompany that honesty with bucket-loads of compassion, kindness and a learning eye. Okay, yeah, so I said I would go and do X and now I don’t want to, and in fact I wanted to say no at the time but didn’t feel I could, so here I am now letting someone down. So, how do I want to handle this next time? How can I honour myself and honour them?
We can start to really trust ourselves when we’re being real with ourselves. Facing this stuff isn’t always pretty (and sometimes downright mortifying!) but WOW is it in-powering.
In saying all of that, by far the biggest catalyst for trusting myself has been learning to tune into my higher self, my soul. That will sound ‘too spiritual’ to some people, or too hard or scary (it’s actually the opposite!), but now that I do that daily, I can truly trust myself. It has made all the difference.
Q. These insights are so enlightening. What would you say are the daily practices or reminders you prioritise as a result of your reflections?
Sure thing, here goes…
- I trust myself to tune into what feels right for me so that when I make a choice or decision, I know it’s right – from what to have for dinner, to whether to attend a course or what kind of car to buy. If I catch myself rushing it, I try to slow down and tune in more carefully.
- When I have a difficult interaction with someone, I trust myself to be able to unpack my thoughts and feelings and learn from it.
- I trust myself with my choices around what to eat, drink, when to rest, how to exercise my body etc.
- I trust my instincts on what to listen to or read, who to learn from, what to spend my time on, what my business needs on a given day.
- I trust I can handle any kind of life situation that arises because I remind myself I’ve handled everything that’s come my way so far.
- When I can see I’m choosing (or tolerating) something that doesn’t feel quite right for me (e.g., in relationship, at work, at home) I trust myself now to honour myself and choose what feels right. When I don’t do that as quickly or elegantly as I would like, I trust myself I will next time. Or the next time after that. I trust myself to learn constantly.
- When I don’t know what to do/choose I get very curious about my inner dynamics and why it feels right and why it feels wrong (for me). I trust myself to eventually find clarity. I also reach out for help when the not-knowing is too tough to hold space for on my own.
- I trust myself to ask for help at the right times.
- I have learned what a truly aligned decision or impulse feels like and I’m very fussy about only choosing what feels aligned. In the context of health for instance, some of these things for me right now (and therefore happen with ease) are –
– My morning yoga/qigong/meditation practice
– Walking in nature every day
– Drinking tons of water every day.
There is absolutely no substitute for your own inner knowing.
The nutshell: self-trust is earned through experience and self-awareness. It involves overcoming self-doubt, breaking the habit of seeking external validation, and connecting to your inner compass.
Trust yourself to make choices that align with your authentic self, and you’ll embark on a powerful journey to a more fulfilling life.
What resonated for you from this conversation and my personal reflections?
When I talk with clients about alignment, they’re often working on things like leaving work earlier to be able to exercise after work or have more time with their kids, fine-tuning their business focus instead of trying to be everything to everyone (or shifting careers altogether), or being more honest about their needs with their spouse. Alignment applies to everything.
There is absolutely no substitute for your own inner knowing.
From the wisdom of your heart that knows what matters to you and what you value, to your gut instinct that tells you what’s a fit for you and what’s not, and when to act and when to wait, to your Soul and its divine wisdom about who you really are, what you’re here for and what’s meant for you. Your truth is your truth. You can trust it. And … you can count on yourself to build this trust if you don’t already feel it fully.
A good place to start is with these reflection questions:
What would open up in your life if you truly trusted yourself?
In what ways would you live more fully, or be more yourself?
In what areas of your life Do you trust yourself, and in what areas do you not?
What do you know you can trust yourself with that can support you today?
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like some assistance to build this inner trust more fully for yourself – which ultimately leads to being who you really want to be in your life.
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