I spent the good chunk of a meeting yesterday listening to a woman explain that she has a new habit: leaving the gas cooker on in her kitchen. She has done it several times in the last fortnight, and her morning routine now has an additional phase – sitting on the train, second guessing herself as to whether she switched it off or not. It is concerning her, not least the worry about coming home to a burned out shell. Her husband has jokingly asked her when he can trust her to do it, but she was seriously questioning when she could trust herself to do it.
The questioning is not really about the gas. It’s about her perception of herself. She’s a capable woman, she’s got it all going on, and yet, she can’t rely on herself to do a simple, yet important, task. It is impacting on other decisions and ‘knowings’ about her life and undermining her confidence.
Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know if you’ve made the right decision? Do you churn over the reasons for weeks and then post-decision, feel the need to justify yourself? Feeling fear of doing something wrong, of not being able to manage or cope with the outcome or fallout? Or that fear of not being able to trust your memories of a few moments before? Or have you consistently left the door unlocked or the gas on?
If you have, or if you second guess yourself on decisions or commitments, or don’t feel sure you can rely on yourself, then today’s Commitment to Self Trust will help.
A Commitment to Self Trust is about our ability to rely on our thoughts and decisions as ‘enough’.
Self trust is a key part of being confident, having mental peace, and reducing anxiety, but particularly when faced with challenging or new situations, we can find ourselves wondering if we can rely on ourselves and our decision making processes.
So what does Self Trust look and feel like?
Self trust is not second guessing ourselves – not because we’re not open to challenge but because we make decisions we are happy with
Self Trust is believing we can cope with whatever the outcome is
Self Trust is being firm in our commitment to our integrity and our values
Self Trust is listening to ourselves and acting on the signals that we send – I need nurture, I need space, I need love, I need rest.
Self Trust is listening to ourselves and trusting our instincts – that feels wrong, I don’t agree, we need to take this course of action.
Self Trust is knowing we are good enough and can cope.
And these might be sensations that we’re unfamiliar with. Maybe we weren’t taught to trust ourselves as children; maybe our stories were designed by caregivers who didn’t trust themselves to empower us. Maybe we were not heard. Maybe we were not seen.
But, the great news is that you can begin today to trust yourself or to build your trust up to confident proportions – forgiving yourself for mistakes and appreciating that they’re there to teach us, being compassionate to yourself, caring for yourself, and speaking kindly to yourself – these all support self trust.
But some other ways you can support this process are:
- Consider the inputs in your life
When we make a decision, we use a number of sources for information and validation. We draw on frameworks from the past – what worked, what didn’t – as well as experiences and memories, both our own and other people’s. Who are you allowing to define or influence your decisions? Are you happy with their input? Does it feel right? Do they have the creds to help you make good decisions? Are the people you are using to support your decision making there because they’re close to you or because they’re good for you? Do the people around you support your decisions and support your Self Trust? Yes – great! No? Be careful how much power you give them over your choices and your emotions around your choices.
- Find a Decision Making Framework that works for you
Being able to rely on our way of making decisions really supports our ability to trust ourselves. Constant questioning can be really detrimental to us, and leaves us in an ever decreasing circle of impotence and fear of doing the wrong thing.
Whether we are making instinctive decisions or pondering for weeks or months over something, having a process to help us can begin to build our self trust muscle. Maybe you need a deadline? Maybe you need to write down a list of pros and cons? Maybe you need to challenge yourself to consider the alternative, the polar opposite, something you may never have considered? Maybe you simply need to say “ I am taking this decision and I am capable of dealing with the outcome, whatever it may be.”
In time, you will begin to feel what is right for you – I love the example of decision making where you’re flipping a coin to make a decision and generally, in the moment while the coin is in the air, your instinct tells you what you really want. Self trust is about being brave enough to admit that need before the coin is tossed.
- Forget regret
Regret is the death of self trust, because it leaves us stuck in a moment where we can’t change the past and we’re fearful about our ability to effect change in the future. Be curious about your decisions and allow yourself freedom to explore the feelings and emotions that making a decision offers. You are powerful and you can do this!
- It’s not about Perfection
We are all perfectly imperfect. Embrace it.
We are all wrong at times, and that’s ok.
Trust that you have the right to an opinion.
Look at ‘mistakes’ as learnings. They aren’t terminal and don’t mean you can’t try again and succeed.
- Use reminders if you are overwhelmed
The woman in the meeting is overwhelmed with emotion at the moment and has a limited capacity for anything else. While she ponders some serious questions in her life, the gas ring chips away at her and challenges her sense of self security about things that are more important. Using reminders like a post it note on the back of the door that asks if you have done a certain thing before you leave the house, or a reminder on your phone, can help you build a sense of trust around mundane things that can often undermine our belief in ourselves to take good decision about the big things.
- Use Affirmations while you rebuild your trust
I love Love LOVE an affirmation – post it notes on the fridge, in your purse, on the car dashboard – wherever you need a reminder that you can trust in your decision making, your ability to cope, and your self.
Stick that stuff everywhere – I am trustworthy, I am in control, I am powerful, I can cope, I have got this, I have got through the tough times before, I can do it again! I can and I will, watch me!
Whatever calls to you, nurtures you, and supports you.
And please, believe in yourself, even if you don’t think you should. A little bit of faith goes a long way.