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How To Trust Yourself

Let me see a show of hands – how many of you have ever struggled with trust?

*I’m imagining every single one of us raising our hands* 🙋🏼‍♀️

Trust feels big.

In fact, it’s amazing just how many emotions and stories are crammed between those 5 little letters.

Often, we focus on our relationships and whether or not we can trust other people when the first person we need to learn to trust – is ourselves. Because we can’t trust others or expect others to trust us if we don’t first trust ourselves.

It sounds cliché, right? Kinda like the “you gotta love yourself first” mantra but it’s true. We need that foundation of trust within ourselves and we need to tend to it and build it every.damn.day. 

For example: raise your hand again if you’ve…

  • Ever broken a promise to yourself
  • Ever let someone walk all over your boundaries
  • Beaten yourself up for failing to do what you said you would
  • Been unable to express/ask for what you need
  • Passed the megaphone to your inner critic when you effed up

Each of those things erodes our self-trust. And we find ourselves saying things like, “I don’t know if I can trust myself again.” or “I’ve lost faith in my own judgment.”

But I promise that it’s possible to rebuild trust with ourselves.

First, trust requires us to be vulnerable – yes, even with ourselves. To be painfully honest, accepting, and compassionate with ourselves. To sit with ourselves and honour our flaws, our shortcomings, our scars we’d rather hide. To heap on the love, especially when we feel we don’t deserve it. Only then can we begin to build trust one small moment at a time.

I know you’d rather avoid vulnerability (me too). It seems easier to perfect, pretend, numb, and avoid rather than stand in the swampiness of vulnerability. But here’s the thing – you can’t just numb and avoid the bad stuff. When we do that we end up numbing joy, love, and connection too.   

If we want that trust and connection with ourselves and others we need to wade into the uncertainty, the risk, and the emotional exposure required to build it.

If it helps, picture me standing next to you in the swamp. You’re not alone.  We’ve both got our hip-waders on and we’re lovingly moving through the moments in our lives that we’re not proud of, where we freaked out or said harsh things or felt less than or failed when we thought for sure we’d gotten it right. It feels dark and scary and there’s an uncomfortable squelching beneath our boots. But we’ve also got lanterns and each other and we know this is the path to the liberation we seek.

How does that line go? “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” We’re all in here together, wading through the muck and learning how to keep our hearts open in a broken world. Because even though we’ve been taught to avoid the dark, the uncertainty, and the shadows they’re a part of us and NEED to be witnessed. It’s through empathy and compassion that the shadows dissolve and the journey becomes just a little bit easier.

And if we can manage that discomfort, we’ll find there are dozens of opportunities to build trust. And even better? It doesn’t require grand, sweeping, heroic gestures – small everyday moments will do.

Brené Brown gives us a beautiful analogy of a marble jar. Every moment that builds trust is a marble added to the jar. And every moment that erodes trust takes a marble out of the jar. We need to fill our jar with marbles if we want to build self-trust.

So, what are those vulnerable, trust-building moments?

Brené also created the BRAVING acronym to guide us.

BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are being clear on what’s okay with me and what’s not okay with me.

Let’s say you want to create more healthy boundaries around sleep. Maybe you decide to go to bed at 10 PM – that’s your boundary.

RELIABILITY

Reliability is doing what you say you’re going to do (over and over again).

So each time you honour your healthy sleep boundary and go to bed at 10 PM you build self-trust and add a marble to your jar.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability means that when you screw up you own it, apologize, and make amends.

So maybe you binged Netflix ‘til midnight last night. Oops! Apologize to yourself. Perhaps make amends by allowing yourself an afternoon nap. And then make it to bed by 10 PM tonight. (Notice how beating yourself up about it or punishing yourself is nowhere on that list?)

VAULT

The vault means you only share what is yours to share. And what you share with me I’ll hold in confidence and vice versa.

When we’re talking about self-trust that might mean you decide to stop participating in and listening to gossip. Maybe it means only sharing the tender parts of yourself with someone who has earned the right to hear your story. Or perhaps it’s giving yourself a safe space to express yourself unedited – like your journal or therapy.

INTEGRITY

Integrity is about practicing your values. In Brené’s language “choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast and easy. Choosing courage over comfort.”

Perhaps it feels comfy to hide behind perfectionism and you decide to try to embrace imperfection. Or honouring your commitment to get up early and walk instead of the ease of hitting snooze. Or scheduling regular intervals to stop and check that your goals are in alignment with your values.

NON-JUDGMENT

You can fall apart and struggle without judging yourself.

Often there’s no one more vicious than our own inner critic. And building compassion for ourselves takes time and practice. I’ve got an idea for creating a little more self-acceptance over here.

GENEROSITY

Generosity means you make the most generous assumptions about your thoughts/words/actions and then check in with yourself.

Instead of letting our inner critic take over, we say “Hey, you did the best you could with what you had at the moment. Be kind to yourself.’ We often can give generously to others, while at the same time holding ourselves to higher (often unattainable) standards.  It’s time to cut yourself some slack.

Trust isn’t built in grand gestures but small everyday moments and that’s great news because it means you can begin to build self-trust today – right now.

Once we learn how to fill our own marble jars we can begin to expand and build trusting relationships with others. We can use the language of BRAVING to communicate when trust has been damaged and as a map back to building trust again.

Eventually, we can extend our generous assumptions to the Universe and trust that we are held and supported with infinite love and we have everything that we need to grow and thrive – even when the hard stuff happens.

p.s. A little heartwork if you’re interested…

  1.  Write a list of things you trust. It can be very simple, small things like I trust every exhale will be followed by an inhale. Or I trust that the sun will rise tomorrow.
  2. Decide how you’ll add marbles to your own jar this week. Set an intention. Why is it important to you? How can you support yourself? How might you sabotage yourself? And what can you do to prevent that?

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