My whole life was spent doubting myself in every way. I didn’t trust myself at all. I didn’t make any decisions without running them by a handful of people first, and I didn’t even trust myself enough to make parenting decisions on my own.
Boundaries didn’t exist in my life, and I spent my entire childhood and most of my adulthood being a doormat.
I required validation from everyone around me; even going as far as craving validation from strangers and people I didn’t particularly like.
As I embarked on my journey of self-discovery, I realized quickly that I needed to do some work and learn to trust myself. Depending on validation and acceptance from others had led to an unhappy and unfulfilling life.
Because of this realization, I started the work and I’m still doing the work.
What Does Self-Trust Look Like?
Paint a picture in your mind of who you’ll become when you learn to trust yourself. Imagine standing tall and confident in your power. Read the lists below. Which one do you fall into?
Self-trust Looks Like This:
- Knowing and staying true to your core values
- Expressing yourself in an open and honest way
- Following your dreams fully
- Making decisions based on what’s best for you and your path
- Standing firm in your decisions
- Having a strong awareness of who you are and what your boundaries are
Lack of Self-Trust Looks Like This:
- Looking to others to validate your decisions
- Not knowing what your core values are
- Following the crowd – even when it is harmful to you
- Not standing up for yourself when you’ve been wronged
- Changing your personality based on the company you’re keeping
What Causes a Lack of Self-Trust?
We all have an inner compass that helps point us in the direction that’s best suited for our lives. To be fair, the compass TRIES to point us in the right direction. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to trust that compass.
There are numerous reasons that people learn to question themselves:
- If you were raised in a household where your parents consistently swooped in to save you from mistakes, you were getting the subliminal message that you weren’t capable of fixing your own mistakes. And if your parents didn’t trust you, why should you trust yourself?
- If you grew up around someone who demonstrated a “victim mentality”, you probably accepted the belief that you were a victim of your circumstances. Every setback you encountered felt out of your control.
- If you were shamed or punished for speaking your mind, you quickly learned that owning your power and speaking your truth was bad.
- If you were made to feel as though you were fundamentally wrong at your core, you definitely wouldn’t have grown up with anything resembling self-trust.
Spend some time thinking back to your childhood. Were there situations or people who played a part in your self-doubt? Why aren’t you able to trust that inner compass? Journal about that. Take your time and really give it some thought.
Be careful though. This practice can make it easy to slip right into victim mode so remember that even though there were situations and people that contributed to your self-doubt, it’s up to you to change it. You’re in control now, and you’re NOT going to be a victim!
Now That I Know “Why”, What Do I Do About It?
Once you’ve taken the time to figure out why you don’t trust yourself, you can get down to the business of fixing it. You CAN learn to have trust in yourself, your decisions, your values, and your life.
The steps below are ones that I continue to use to this day to make sure I’m continuing to trust myself.
- Visit a therapist. I list this first because trying to undo years of negative conditioning can be really daunting if you try to do it on your own. Being able to talk to a professional who isn’t emotionally connected to the situation is like having a wise guide who walks the journey with you.
- Make a self-love list. Write down every single thing you like about yourself. What do you like physically? What do you love about your personality? Don’t skimp here. If you love your pinky toenail, write that down!
- Spend time alone. You can’t get to know yourself if you’re constantly surrounded by people. Take the time (even if it’s only an hour a week) to sit with yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. Get to know yourself like you would a new friend.
- Learn and live your core values. We’ve heard the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” If you don’t know what your core values are, you can’t stand for anything. Write down what your values are and make a vow to yourself that you won’t stray from those values.
- Learn to “read” your body. Oftentimes, when we’re faced with a decision, our bodies will tell us whether it’s a good one or not. The next time you’re making a decision, close your eyes and tune into your body. Is there tension in your gut? Do you feel anxious? Or does your body feel calm and relaxed? Learning to listen to your body can play a huge role in self-trust.
“If you’re going to trust one person, let it be yourself.” – Robert Tew
- Keep promises to yourself. If you have someone in your life who breaks promises to you, you stop trusting them. Similarly, you’ll lose trust in yourself if you break promises you make to yourself. Start keeping those promises. Respect your promises to yourself as strongly as the promises you make to others. Remember the vow you made to stay true to your core values? Start there!
- Be yourself. If you’re like me, this one might be difficult. If you have a tendency to change your personality or beliefs based on whoever you’re with at the time, changing this habit may require a great deal of practice. With this in mind, when you notice yourself engaging in that old habit, take a moment to acknowledge the majesty of who you really are. After all, you actually do the world a disservice by pretending to be someone other than who you are.
- Set and achieve goals. Even if it’s a tiny goal, set it and make it happen, and when you do reach the goal, celebrate yourself. Celebrate the fact that you worked toward something and completed it. Achieving small goals consistently builds that self-trust.
- Be decisive. Make decisions and stick with them. Yes, there’ll be times you make the wrong decision, but hey, you made a decision. That’s cause for celebration. And the more you practice making and sticking by your decisions, the easier it will become. And if you need help learning how to make decisions, I highly suggest you check out this post.
- Give yourself grace. Above all, be gentle with yourself. Making these types of changes takes time. You’ll fall, make mistakes, and slip back into old habits. But the good news is that you can decide to be loving toward yourself and give yourself constant grace. Do you get angry with a baby who can’t walk across a room the first time they stand up? No. Because new things take time and patience.
“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
After a lifetime of not trusting myself, making these changes has been difficult at times. I’ve had to be comfortable with moments of confrontation and I’ve had to conquer many fears. But at the end of the day, my only regret is that I didn’t start making these changes sooner!
I know that you’ve spent far too long questioning yourself. It’s time to rise up and let the world (and yourself) know who you are. You’re a strong, self-sufficient, intelligent, and capable woman.
You’ve got this!