November 21, 2017

Developing Self-Trust

trustyourself“If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?” When I was growing up, that’s what our sketchy neighbor Mr. Dillard used to say all the time. Even as a kid I remember thinking, “I bet he doesn’t even trust himself.” I know I didn’t.

A friend of mine made a really bad decision recently. She did it for all the right reasons, though. She was seeking connection, love and a meaningful relationship. Despite warning signs, she misled herself and got into a mess with an alcoholic narcissist who trashed her heart and tried to undermine everything she believed about herself. Luckily, my friend—Gayle—is a strong one. She realized her mistake fairly quickly and got outta there.

It broke my heart when she said to me one day, a month or so later, “I don’t trust myself anymore.” We learn to trust ourselves gradually over time. We have to forgive, love, and be compassionate to ourselves. So many people I know treat everyone else in their lives better than they treat themselves. Give yourself a break, and learn to trust yourself. 

Just as I wrote in my recent blog about trusting others: trust is a choice. Choose to trust yourself, and then take the steps needed to do so. And I’ll help you with that. Read on.

When we trust ourselves, we can trust our decisions. Gayle trusted herself when she took the plunge with the wrong man, and then she stopped trusting. She had to regain her own faith in herself… and she did. She knew that ultimately the best person to make the right decisions for her is her. No one else can do that for her. Is she going to be right 100% of the time? No. Neither are you. Neither am I.

But allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. We learn nothing in life if we never take risks, never trip and fall, never stray off the path and get back up. But don’t beat yourself up for those mistakes. Instead, thank yourself and your foul-up—whatever it is—for the lesson it taught you. Approach every moment with the gratitude it deserves for helping you along the path called life.

With self-trust intact, you will know that you can take care of your own needs and be able to develop a trusting love relationship with someone else.

What turns your desire to trust yourself into an everyday reality? Work on the following steps.

♥  Disarm your inner critic. Your inner voice can be your friend… or not. Turn it into an ally, rather than a sabotaging, undermining critic. First, notice the way your mind works, with 60,000 thoughts per day, and at least 40,000 of those are repetitive. Listen in. Do you hear the negative buzz that you can so easily create with casual, but harmful, self-talk? “I’m an idiot”—when you forgot your wallet at home. Really? An idiot? Or just a normal human, perhaps…. “I’ll never get a date”—when the first three women you asked out said they were busy. Are you sure that means it’s hopeless? Probably not. Don’t judge yourself by saying, “Wow I’m an idiot loser for having so many negative thoughts,” but instead just notice them and the feelings they produce. Then label the feelings. This allows you to distance yourself and observe them without participating in the negative thoughts and feelings. Banish that not-helpful critic and invite another voice in.  A voice that will reframe those thoughts into something empowering to move you forward. 

♥  Get to the root of how you feel. Sometimes negative thoughts are particularly disturbing or crippling. Beyond the “I’m an idiot” thoughts that do enough damage as it is, there are some that strike at the very core of your being, and keep you stuck in negative patterns and habits of mind and action. Dig deeper when you identify those thoughts. What do they reveal about beliefs you have about yourself? Work on rewriting those beliefs. Blow that negative thought out of the water by turning it into a positive affirmation. “I’m not loveable” becomes “I am worthy of love.” Say it. Mean it. Every day. Be aware: Denying your thoughts and feelings will give your inner critic a smorgasbord to feast on. What we resist persists so it is best to deal with that stuff head on.

♥  Take responsibility. Whatever your past decisions were, and whatever their consequences, good or bad, own them. And honor them. And forgive yourself, if needed. Maybe you need to make amends to someone you hurt. “I’m sorry that I treated you badly when we were breaking up. You did not deserve that.” Then forgive yourself. Just as important is to make amends with yourself: “I don’t deserve to be put down by myself for the stumble that led me into that bad situation.” Then forgive yourself.

♥  Live in alignment with your core values. Your integrity is the thing that makes you worthy of trust. Stay true to it.

♥  Practice unconditional love… with yourself. The understanding, compassion, and kindness that comes from unconditional love is what you deserve from yourself at all times. You love your dog even if he pukes on the bed. You love your child even if she fails a history quiz. Can you please just do that for yourself? You’re human, after all. Go figure.

♥  Develop and keep personal boundaries. Doing so is part of honoring yourself. Gayle realizes now that by plunging into a relationship with a man she suspected to be cruel and unreliable she was not honoring herself or her boundaries. (If you find you need to rationalize your choice to let someone in… look closely at what you are doing.)

♥  Be your own go-to person. If you can rely on you to take care of your own needs first, you are in good hands. You will be able to live with confidence and trust that things will be okay. Why? Because you are in charge and you trust you.

♥  Pay attention to your inner wisdom. Whatever you want to call it: your intuition, your vision, inner wisdom—you have a sense of “knowing” that is felt rather than thought. Do not dismiss it. (Gayle now sees how systematically she refused to pay heed to that sick feeling in her gut.) Honor your inner wisdom, because it is part of you, and has your best interests at heart.

♥  Look at yourself from a different perspective. For example: how would your best friend treat you right now? If she or he would be nicer to you than you are being to yourself, that’s a clue that you need to readjust your default mode to “love yourself.”

♥  Practice self-honesty. Self-trust requires—demands—self-honesty as much as it does self-love. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t negotiate terms with yourself. Don’t fudge the truth with yourself. If you can’t count on yourself to tell you the truth, that’s a problem.

♥  Eliminate toxic relationships. Seems obvious, but it’s hard to do sometimes. But no one has the right to put you down, take advantage of you, manipulate you, or question your worth. You don’t have that right either. If someone in your life is doing that, kick ‘em to the curb and honor yourself as you deserve.

♥  Pursue what is right for you. And who gets to decide what that is? You!

♥  Keep your promises to yourself. Did you promise yourself that after working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, you’d take two days off? Don’t break that promise or you’ll be bitter and fall into victim mode. You won’t be able to trust yourself next time you make a promise like that.

♥  Reward yourself. You will never regret taking that weekend lakeside with your bestie. You may regret not doing it, though. If you quit smoking, landed a new job, turned your negative thinking into affirmative self-loving thoughts—whatever the accomplishment, honor yourself for it and accept the reward you offer. And you know what? Reward yourself just for being you. No terms and conditions necessary aside from that.

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Remember the relationship you have with yourself is the most important. All your other relationships depend on its success.

 

 

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