How to use Self Trust to build a rewarding and fulfilling life
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Why is Self-Trust essential in building a rewarding, fulfilling life?
It seems obvious doesn’t it. That self trust is important. But so many of us DON’T have self-trust and in this blog I’m going to explore how this impacts us in our day to day lives, what Self-Trust ACTUALLY means, and how you can cultivate this in YOUR life.
Self-trust is one of the fundamental aspects of building Self-Belief.
A lack of Self-Trust can cause us to constantly question, procrastinate, ruminate and avoid making decisions - all of which can cause us to doubt ourselves and whether we can actually DO what we want to. Imagine for a moment you’re considering making a big decision, for example, because it’s relevant here, investing in working with a coach. You know that you want to change your life, you understand how working with a coach can help you do this, but there’s something holding you back from deciding to actually do it. You research coach after coach, overwhelming yourself with information, with different prices, packages, approaches… Maybe you book a few calls with different coaches, and wow - you find one you feel REALLY gets where you’re coming from! Then you start questioning whether it’s the right thing to do, whether spending this money on coaching and yourself is really the right choice... So you ask a few friends, because it would be SO helpful if one of them told you what to do. The problem is, everyone has a different opinion, some think it’s a CRAZY amount of money, others say it’s totally worth it because it’s investing into you, others say “isn’t coaching just these snake oil people making money from nothing” (it’s not, no, just to be clear here…) You now feel even more confused, you’d hoped your friends would help you decide. Instead, you’re feeling more doubtful about whether this was a good decision, and try as you might, you can’t find that gut reaction “yes!” that you felt when you connected with that one particular coach. So instead you decide to wait, maybe you can navigate this on your own, and maybe it was a silly idea anyway… You slip back into feeling a bit off, stagnant and stuck, but maybe it’s not so bad…
This pattern can play out across all areas of your life whenever you have a decision to make about something important to you. And I see so many clients stuck in this space of “I don’t have enough information to decide what’s best” and therefore making no decisions, no progress and becoming more and more frustrated, even as they try to get MORE ready for a decision by gathering shedloads of information, none of which actually seems to help… *It could be that you know your job isn’t right for you but you can’t decide what you DO want to do, so you stay there. *Or being unable to pinpoint where you might want to go out for a special meal, then leaving a decision to the last minute so you end up going to somewhere less special and feel disappointed. (as a note, these examples are also heavily influenced by fears of judgement and failure but this blog is about self trust so in the interest of keeping it less than dissertation length I’ll try and stick to the main topic!)
When you don’t have self-trust, you learn to ignore that nudge you might feel when there’s something right or wrong. You might call this your intuition, or gut instinct, but if you lack self-trust it’s likely that you either don’t strongly experience these feelings (or don’t recognise and acknowledge them) or when you do have them, you don’t act on them, believing that others know best. This compounds over time, the more you ignore that inner voice which tells you what’s right and wrong for you, the more you become reliant on others to guide you and make decisions for you. You begin to lean heavily into operating from a place of “should”, “need to” and “(insert person) says this is the right thing to do, so it must be true” You start to believe that your thoughts and feelings are wrong, that others are wiser, better placed or more knowledgeable than you are, even about what’s right for you, and you become completely reliant on sense checking your every thought. Even though you might be ignoring your intuition, it still exists. When you’re going against your own instinctive reactions, life starts to feel clunky. You might notice ongoing resistance, or even resentment that you can’t seem to make up your own mind without others’ opinions. Frustration builds, you feel trapped by your own lack of decision making (although, truth bomb, you ARE actually making a decision here to rely on other peoples’ advice instead of your own) but you cannot seem to find a way out of this, other than by… You guessed it, researching more, gathering more information and waiting until you feel like you have all the answers before you can move forward. In the Self-Belief Coaching framework I use, this behaviour pattern is characterised as “The Bystander” which I believe perfectly sums up what’s going on as we wait, watch and let things pass us by. (If you’re curious about this framework and where you might fit you can book a free chat with me here) I identify strongly with all the tendencies of “the Bystander”, but the good news is that it doesn’t need to hold you back any more. You can absolutely work with it, overcome it and accept it as part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes you YOU by developing a practice of trusting yourself just as I, and many of my clients have been able to.
So I think we can agree, (although if you don’t agree I completely celebrate this and YOUR true to you thoughts) that lacking self-trust is a significant factor if you’re feeling stuck and frustrated, waiting for the right time. What you’re not giving yourself credit for is that you DO in fact make THOUSANDS of decisions every day. You trust yourself (mostly, I imagine) to decide to get up on time in the morning, decide whether, when and what to eat, to brush your teeth, to call a friend, to pay your bills etc. etc. etc. YOU ARE ALREADY CAPABLE OF MAKING BRILLIANT CHOICES FOR YOURSELF You make them so often you just don’t realise they are decisions because they have become habitual. It’s only when your decisions seem more important or high risk that you start to doubt whether you are capable of making the “right” decisions or not. But the great news is that you can also build a practice, and habit, of making hard decisions too. It’s no coincidence that people talk about trusting your gut, because it’s during these important moments of decision that our body often gets involved and gives us a pretty good steer as to what might be the right direction to head in. When you’ve been actively ignoring, or questioning your instinctive responses for so long it can take a while to start tuning in again but it can happen, and once you start to do this, it will happen more and more quickly as you lean in to playing with what your own brain and body are telling you. The first step (and you’ll notice a pattern here if you’ve read any of my other blogs) is to start to notice and acknowledge what happens when you first think about taking a particular choice or action. Do you have a gut response? An instinctive “yes” or “no”? Does anything happen in your body? For example do you breathe more quickly, feel a tightness in your throat or chest or have a stomach flip sensation? Does your mind race, or shout at you? Does your head pound or does your face get hot? ALL of these things are normal, natural and important parts of our human “being”. They are evolved responses to things which might be dangerous, risky or harmful to us. It’s our brain communicating via our body “watch out, you might get hurt!” But it also happens in the other direction, the heart race and butterflies when you’re super excited about something, the internal “yes” to something which seems totally brilliant, and that flush of joy you feel when you’re with someone you care deeply about. Instead of relying on these natural responses though, we’ve learned to trust the “shoulds” of what society presents to us about what we want, do, experience and think. If what we get excited about is different from the societal norm, our brain (trying to be helpful but really doing the opposite) sees this as a risk - in case we end up being judged and rejected for or failing at the thing which our body tells us we’re excited about doing. So we stuff those feelings down, get on with life in a way which feels acceptable and keep ourselves safe from these risks, whilst also feeling the frustrations and niggles that something’s missing…
But back to how you can cultivate this Self-Trust response. Maybe you haven’t been able to notice any body sensations or brain reactions, that’s normal too if you’ve been deliberately ignoring them for any amount of time. This may sound a bit wacky, but try thinking about something you think is truly disgusting and repulsive (I’m currently feeling a bit lumpy in my throat and want to shake my head to “dislodge” what I’m thinking about right now…) and notice what happens. Or go and watch a youtube video of something you think is really adorable - I cry at anything tiny and cute, instant waterworks - and see what happens for you. Start working with these extremes and you’ll notice over time that you can start to identify the more subtle signs when you’re presented with information, opinions or a decision to make. Take it step by step and give yourself time to experience and understand what’s going on, linking your responses to what you’re doing and thinking and it will come.
Using this in a practical setting… If you’ve got a decision to make, with lots of options you can’t seem to decide between, try this: -Grab a load of post it’s (total permission slip to go buy some if you don’t have any, I trust you’ll pick the right colours ;) and it’s all in the name of important personal growth!)
-Write your various decisions/outcomes/possibilities on these post it’s (you MIGHT have a response as you write various things, if you do, listen to what that might be telling you…) -Get them all stuck up on a wall in any order, it doesn’t matter which -Read them over and notice what, if anything, happens as you consider the outcome. -What sensations, thoughts, feelings are coming up? -If one option feels a little neutral, meh or has no response, could this mean that it’s not really what you want to do? -Which of these fall into the categories of “I should do, or want to do this (but I don’t)”? This might cause a sense of dread in you; for me that’s a sinking feeling mixed with a touch of panic -One by one, start to eliminate the post it outcomes by taking them off the wall, starting with these neutral and “shoulds” -What are you left with? What are your natural responses to these? -And what do they tell you about what the right decision could be for you if you trusted your instincts? -Any which are a hard no - even if you “should” - get them off the wall. -Keep going until you have one or two there. THESE are likely the decisions which if you trusted yourself, would be the “right” ones for you. This doesn’t mean that they will be the easiest ones, or cause the least amount of risk, (sorry) but it does mean that if you’ve done this exercise from a place of deciding to trust that you know what’s right for you, you have a starting point to approach what’s next. Will you try this post it process? I’ve found it really helpful in times when I don’t know which decision to make, and getting up, moving things around and considering options outside my head often completely transforms my decision making processes and makes action taking seem SO much easier. Of course, taking action can be the hardest thing, even when you know what you’re working towards, but that’s a topic for another day and another blog - you can find lots of resources to help here too. If you’ve read this and realised Self-Trust is something you would like to experience more of, why not join my FREE Self-Belief series, starting on 4th October? You’ll have access to a private group with bitesize workshops and lessons, transformative tools and opportunities for 1:1 help from yours truly. I’d love to have you be part of it to help you with ALL things Self-Trust and Self-Belief. You can join here.