What is Self-Trust? And how do we know if we have it?
I like to think self-trust is not trusting yourself to have all the right answers, but having the confidence that you will be kind and respectful regardless of the outcome. In short, “self-trust” is the firm reliance on the integrity of yourself.”
Self-trust looks like having clarity and confidence in our choices. It allows us to implement the changes we need to fulfill our goals. It allows us to be interdependent in relationships (not overly dependent on others for answers/solutions). It allows us to learn from our experiences rather than harp on them and internalize self-blame/shame (feeding the inner critic; “I am not going to examine my experience because my primary intention is not to learn but to protect myself.”).
Where does a lack of self-trust stem from?
Consider the messages we received throughout our childhood:
Lack of Unconditional Positive Regard
When a child/adult is not met with acceptance by others without judgment or conditions. Being raised in an environment where you are not asked to consistently doubt yourself is ultimately ideal for self-trust to unfold.
Lack of Strength Recognition
Did we receive the bit of guidance we need to help understand, recognize, and own our unique strengths growing up?
Lack of Encouragement to Look Within for Answers
Throughout childhood, when we didn’t what direction to go in, were we provided with answers OR self-explorative questions such as: how do you feel? What do you think? What is your sense?
Before embarking on the journey of self-trust, be mindful of the following:
Lingering Feelings of Regret
The bigger the regret, the deeper the shame, and the less self-trust we hold. Regret tells us our intuition cannot be trusted. When we demonstrate that we have learned from our mistake, regret is reduced and our self-trust resurfaces.
Avoiding the Inner Critic Prevents Self-Trust
Become familiar with your inner critic. Get curious about is nature (I.e. What is the inner critic? Where does it come from? What is its intention?) When we buy into our negative self-talk, we are simultaneously reducing our self-reliance.
3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust
1. Avoid people who undermine your self-trust
People who undermine your self-trust are the ones who use you or don’t want you to flourish.
While you probably didn’t have a lot of control over having negative people in your life when you were a kid growing up, you do have control now that you’re an adult. Think about all the different people who surround you day to day. Do they support you? Do you really want them in your life?
2. Keep promises to yourself
Developing self-trust also includes becoming your own best friend. Which includes keeping promises to yourself. “Making a commitment and keeping it builds trust.”
For example, you may make the commitment to create and maintain a boundary. You might make the commitment to exercise a few days a week, or keep up on your doctor checkups. Or maybe you might make the commitment to go to bed earlier or go volunteer somewhere weekly.
3. Speak kindly to yourself
When we as people bash ourselves, we need to know whose voice we are really hearing. It may be the voice of a parent or a boss or someone else who sent you the message that you weren’t good enough. “Everyone has these awful voices in their heads.”
Fortunately, this is a habit you can reduce or even eliminate. For example, the next time you make a mistake and blurt out “You’re so stupid,” catch yourself, and replace that saying with, “That’s OK. It was just a small slip-up,” or “Yes, that was a big mistake, but I’ll learn from this, and I love myself anyway.”
Being understanding toward yourself when you make mistakes helps you be more understanding toward others when they do the same thing, because none of us are perfect and we are learning and growing everyday.
What does self-trust look like for you?
“Why do I trust everyone else on earth more than I trust myself?”
Laine E. Davis, PsyD
Postdoctoral Psychology Resident
Blair H. Mor, Psy.D.
Supervising Licensed Psychologist
Owner at MorMindful Therapy & Psychiatry