How to develop self-trust
I’ve been working in the personal development industry for a number of years now and an unsung hero in the pursuit of growth I’m drawn to again and again is self-trust. A lot of us focus our attention on mountains we want to climb in the distance, whether that’s becoming more confident, achieving goals or making big life changes. When we lock onto these in our minds, we’re forgetting something closer to home, something integral – self-trust.
When we don’t trust ourselves, when we don’t respect our opinions or true desires how are we expected to learn, develop and grow? How can we feel confident and believe in ourselves if we can’t trust the thoughts swirling in our mind?
Developing self-trust is essentially about building a better relationship with yourself. It’s showing yourself compassion, listening to yourself and giving yourself the space you need. If you don’t treat yourself particularly kindly, chances are your self-trust is off. Would you trust someone who constantly spoke down to you?
Before you storm head-first towards the mountain you want to climb, take some time to ensure your self-trust is intact, this will be a big help on your journey. If you need some help developing your self-trust, try the following suggestions.
Give yourself space to feel your feelings
When difficult emotions come up, it can be easy to avoid them, using our preferred numbing tool to keep them far away (my numbing tool of choice is scrolling on social media). When we do this, we’re not giving ourselves the space and time needed to process our feelings and move on. This can undermine our self-trust because we aren’t listening to ourselves.
Find a way to give yourself the space you need to feel your feelings. This may involve journaling, meditating or talking things through with someone you trust. Do this when you have decisions to make too, give yourself the gift of time to figure out what you truly want and listen to yourself.
Create a positive relationship with your inner critic
Most of us have a rocky relationship with our inner critic. We either take everything it says to heart and follow it’s direction without argument or we distract ourselves, push down its words and avoid it. Part of building self-trust is understanding that as nasty as our inner critic can be, there is a positive intention behind its actions. It’s trying to keep us safe.
When we’re able to see this and recognise it for the scared entity that it is, we can foster a more positive relationship with it. We can say “thank you”, we can appreciate it’s positive intentions, then explain that we’re not going to listen to it.
This can lead the way for positive self-talk as we create an inner cheerleader, encouraging ourselves and speaking more kindly to ourselves. This helps us trust ourselves as we’re not constantly being mean to ourselves.
Make self-care a priority
Every time we carry out an act of self-care we’re affirming to ourselves that we deserve this and we take care of ourselves. This nurturing relationship with ourselves allows self-trust to thrive. If it’s not already, make self-care a priority. Note down different self-care activities you can do and schedule them in. Treat them like you would any other important appointment and remember self-care helps you maintain the energy you need to support others so it’s anything but selfish.
Stuck for time? Try these six self-care rituals that fit in easily to your daily routine.
Choose your advice sources carefully
Listening to yourself sounds easy but, in truth, it can be hard. Other people’s opinions can quickly drown out our inner voice, leaving us more confused than ever. Where possible, try to spend time alone thinking about whatever dilemma is coming up for you. Consider what you want and need, and then if you feel outside opinion is necessary, choose your sources carefully. Ask yourself – who’s opinion do you really trust?
This is why I’m such a fan of coaching. Coaches won’t inundate you with opinions and advice, instead, they help you listen to yourself. Asking questions to encourage reflection and critical thinking, their aim is to guide you to the answers you already have within you.
Notice how it feels when you don’t trust yourself
Do you remember the last time you made what turned out to be a bad decision? Perhaps your gut was trying to tell you something but you ignored it? Take yourself back to that moment and try to remember how this felt in your body. What does it feel like? Where in your body do you feel it? What does it look/sound/smell like?
The idea here is to recognise when you’re not trusting yourself so you can identify the feeling when it comes up again in the future. When you feel the same sensations you’ll know this is a sign to pause, step back and listen to yourself.
Let go of habits/routines that undermine your self-trust
I’m a big fan of habits and routines, but I recently realised one of them was undermining my self-trust – writing extensive life admin to-do lists every day. While lists can be very helpful (I couldn’t manage at work without one!), I was putting things down that didn’t really need to be on a list. I realised not only did I not need the reminder I thought having a list would provide, but having the list hovering over me was making me anxious.
Letting go of this list was an expression of self-trust. I trusted that I knew what needed to be done daily and anything out of the ordinary could be set as a reminder instead of a looming to-do list. Other habits that might be undermining your self-trust include checking emails multiple times a day or working late.
The more you trust yourself, the more confident you’ll be in sharing your opinion and moving forwards towards your goals. We hope these suggestions are helpful and if you’re looking for support from a coach you can find one using our search tool.
Article updated 21/02/2023