We’re always told that trust is earned. People must earn our trust if they are going to become friends or lovers, and trust must be regained if broken. Sometimes we lose trust in ourselves, and in our abilities. Or maybe we never learned to trust ourselves at all. I realized that the moment I stopped trusting myself was the moment I allowed self-doubt, insecurity, and anger take over my life. I had to learn how to trust myself again.
Lack of self-trust hinders our abilities to do essential tasks. Second-guessing, negative internal self-talk, and desire to avoid all interfere with our lives. When we don’t trust ourselves, it can stall our plans.
Self-Doubt Prohibits Trust
As children, we were taught to trust in our abilities by our guardians. I am doing this daily for Jai: when he encounters a particular obstacle that he does not believe he can overcome, I reassure and coach him through the steps to overcome it. Because I can see the bigger picture, I know what he can do without me and when I should step in. By granting him the opportunity to learn to trust himself in these moments, he’ll have a better awareness of his abilities.
Life slowly ebbs away the self-trust you built in childhood.
You take one too many blows to your ego; you deal with bullies at home, school, or work; you feel like you fail more often than you succeed. If you have a chronic illness, it might temporarily take physical or mental abilities, which is demoralizing. You reach a self-trust breaking point.
When this happens, we inhabit spaces of the doubt more often than areas of self-trust. It prevents us from taking the necessary steps to get better.
Learning to Trust Myself
Before I could begin trusting myself again, I had to admit that the time I spent in graduate school was a stalling tactic. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I was so frustrated by the economic recession and inability to find permanent employment that I hid in the graduate school system for six years. I was miserable the entire time, but I kept telling myself that I wanted to be a professor or the only way to find meaningful employment was through a Ph.D.
Why was it important to admit this to myself?
Because I had to let go of the feeling of failure I carried all day; every day surrounding my time in graduate school. It was weighing me down as I stayed at home with Jai. I had a six-year employment “gap” from school, and at the time, an additional year-and-a-half gap. This feeling of failure stemmed from a lack of self-trust. It was one more hash-mark of inability to complete a goal I set out to attain.
Dwelling on the past was preventing me from looking forward to the future. I had a desire to write since childhood, but every time I sat down to contemplate writing, I felt guilty: I could be writing my thesis. Every time I sat down to read a book for pleasure: I could be reading for my thesis. But I couldn’t write well-enough, academically speaking, nor could I research well-enough so I wouldn’t bother with it.
Whether this self-assessment of my abilities was accurate is another matter.
Once I let go of these thoughts and insecurities, I allowed myself to start this blog. It wasn’t quite the writing I envisioned for myself, but it was something. This blog was a step in the direction of regaining trust in my abilities. I gained top-quality writing training from school, and the blog allowed me to stay in practice. While I will never cut it as an “academic” writer, my style is too informal and conversational, I could work in freelance and blog work.
The more I write for my blog, the stronger my self-trust in my writing abilities grows. I am learning to go with it and see what I accomplish.
Trust in Your Space
Trust in my writing abilities is one facet of my life. I still struggle to transition self-trust in my daily life. I am someone who apologizes for everything. Everything. You bump into me? I say, “I’m sorry.” I think I do something foolish? Sorry. I talk too much or say something I don’t have full confidence in? Sorry!
These moments of apologizing for everything stem from a personal belief that I am not worthy of personal autonomy. It’s a problem for many women. We are taught to be sorry for occupying specific spaces even though we have no reason to apologize. When we apologize for ourselves, we are admitting to a lack of self-trust to ourselves and others.
Learning to trust in your abilities and stopping the apology cycle is an easy first step to take in everyday life. It will still take a lot of work to undo years of peer-pressure/societal pressure, but necessary to gain self-trust in daily life.
Trust for yourself and in your abilities starts the moment you take a stand and say you are worthy of occupying your space, no matter where that is. Say to yourself: I know what I am doing and I belong here, at this moment.
So how do you begin trusting yourself? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Take a moment to be present. Where are you right now in your life? Find the positive and reject the negative thoughts that creep in right now. They only serve to distract. By being mindful and focusing on the positive, you’ll begin to see what you are capable of doing.
Find people in your social circle whom you admire. You want to look for positive, healthy qualities to use as an example. If you can, draw them closer in friendship so they can be a positive influence in your life. You don’t want to use them, so the relationship will need to be equitable, but you do want to learn how they trust in themselves.
When you experience a momentary set-back that affects your self-trust, take time to care for yourself. Self-care/self-soothing is always a good thing, just don’t let it distract you from your overall goals. Coach yourself through the set-back and find a positive way to move forward.
If you have a victory, you achieve something that you previously did not think you could do, find a way to reinforce it through self-care positively. It will help encourage you to do it again in the future.
Do it for Yourself
Stop worrying about what others might think when you do something. Others can influence our moments of self-doubt if you allow them. When you stop worrying about what other’s might think, you are freer to take chances. Let’s be honest, there’s a good chance that others aren’t even focused on what you are doing because they are too busy worrying about what you might think.
Re-building your self-trust will be the first step you need to help deal with your self-doubt. These are some small steps and ways to think about it, but you might find a better way to build up your trust as you take your journey.
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