How can I learn to trust myself more?

Karen R Koenig

The way we learn to trust ourselves is to trust ourselves. I’m not being a wise guy, I swear. What I mean is that trust builds through experience. You learn from everything you do (or don’t do). You did it right, you did it wrong - doesn’t matter because whatever happened adds another page to the history of what you know about yourself and how to live. Of course, you have to stay focused on what’s going on inside you and reflect on your behavior to get smart and gain self-trust. You can’t keep your radar on only sometimes, then turn it off when you feel like it. Like that video camera, it has to keep running 24/7. By staying in touch with your emotions, including your longings, fears, and reactions, you know exactly where you are in situations and relationships. You’re like a computer, always integrating new information into programs to keep up to date. Trust comes from being well informed, which means being open to information - whether it comes from within or without - not from burying your head (or heart) in the sand and certainly not from salving your wounds with food.

Mostly trust comes from analyzing actions and consequences. You can’t regularly ask other people if you did okay, whether you were right, or how they think things went and expect to develop self-trust. When clients ask me what I think, I often tell them that when I analyze things I build my character, but when they analyze themselves they build theirs. Nice girls are often very, very unsure of themselves. Are you? Being a second-guesser, you ask other people (who usually don’t have the psychological savvy to turn the question back to you) what they think, further undermining your own views. And round and round you go until you don’t know which end is up.

In order to develop self-trust, you have to take a hiatus from asking people their opinion about things you do and say. Taking a break doesn’t mean you can’t resume after a while and balance out others’ opinions with yours. But you’ve got to get out there and use your own noodle for a while to teach yourself you’re fully capable of deciding for yourself your worth and value, whichever way the coin flips. Sometimes you’ll be thrilled to discover that you’re a pretty good egg after all; other times, you’ll be disappointed that you let yourself down. Either way, the learning is yours and no one can take that away.

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