In the previous blog, I talked about self-trust and why it is important. Today I’m going to expand on the five ways to build self-trust.
1. Maintain Your Boundaries
Boundaries are understanding our own needs. When we create boundaries, we are not letting others define who we are. Healthy boundaries build self-trust by not compromising our needs in order to care for others. Respecting ourselves means we value our own ideas and perspective. Building healthy boundaries also means we recognize we can handle ourselves. We can take care of our needs and do not rely on others to rescue us. We are the experts in our own lives. When we create boundaries, we learn to respect and value ourselves, and this goes a long way in building self-trust.
2. Prioritize Self-Care
As children, we learn to trust our caregivers because they care for us. They give us what we need. This is also true for adults. We are now our own caregivers. Just as we trusted our caregivers as children, we can learn to trust ourselves when we prioritize self-care. Remember, self-care is not selfish. I often tell my clients that their needs should be at least equal to the needs of others. That’s the baseline. And it’s okay to prioritize our needs above others.
3. Keep Promises You Make to Yourself
Keeping our own promises is another way we value ourselves. If a friend or family member continued to break promises to you, it would be difficult to trust them. This is true of our relationship with ourselves. If we value ourselves, we will keep our own promises.
And why do we break promises to ourselves? Often it is because we allow something else to be a higher priority. Keeping our own promises is where boundaries come in. If we plan something for ourselves but then a friend calls with a need, what do we do? Depending on what the friend is asking, it is ok to say no to your friend and keep the promise you made to yourself. This builds self-trust.
4. Speak Kindly to Yourself
If we talked to our friends the way we talked to ourselves, how many friends would we have? Too many of us have an inner critic that gives us a running commentary on what we are doing. Often, this commentary is negative.
An important aspect of dealing with the inner critic is to understand whose voice are we hearing. Is it a parent’s voice or another authority figure from the past? It’s also important to challenge the voice of the inner critic. Is what it’s saying true? What evidence does the inner critic have to confirm what it’s saying? When a thought like this comes into your mind, rather than automatically believing it, stop and think about it. You can decide if you believe what this voice is saying. The more we’re able to question our inner critic, the less power it will have.
5. Be Mindful of Your Emotions
Often, we have emotions we are not aware of. While we know we are feeling something and it may be good or bad, rarely do we stop and think about the specific emotion and why we might feel this way.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy talks a lot about this process. First, something happens, then we have an emotion, and that creates an action. We get into trouble with this process when we experience an emotion that is hurtful. Maybe a friend says something unkind to you in a text (situation). You feel hurt and angry (emotion) so you sent an equally hurtful text back to them (action). These are the situations that happen if we are not mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Being mindful of our emotions means we put some space between the emotion and the action. If we can pause and identify the emotion we are having and where it is coming from, then we can deal with it in a more responsive, rather than reactive, way. Take the friend and the text. By pausing before we send off the angry text, we can examine what is happening. It’s important to ask: What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? Does this friend’s response remind me of something or someone from my past that was hurtful? After examining the situation and our feelings, we can respond in a way that won’t cause more harm and that we won’t regret the next day.
Being mindful of our emotions helps us to not be controlled by them. Rather, we are in control of our emotions and our responses.
Building self-trust is an important part of building our value and self-worth. Working on these five ways to build self-trust will not only improve our relationship with ourselves but will also help our relationships with others. How we view ourselves is usually how we view the world. If we feel capable of navigating our way in the world, then life can feel more positive and less scary. While we certainly need other people in our lives, knowing that we can depend on ourselves for what we need is a way to be empowered in our life.