Reflecting back on my life, I remember feeling so envious of people who felt comfortable in their own skin and radiated self-confidence at the time when I felt like a shrinking violet.
A vivid memory that stands out is when I was in my early 20s, sitting in the audience watching a man on stage giving a lecture about the benefits of meditation. I was mesmerized, not by his words, but by his presence.
He wasn’t particularly good-looking, nor did he have a ‘killer’ body; it wasn’t even that he was charismatic. So what was it about him that utterly riveted my attention?
He was relaxed and comfortable in himself. He trusted himself completely.
Observing him sharing his thoughts and personal stories, and later fielding questions from the audience, I knew that my first step was to learn how to meditate and that more would be revealed.
Practicing meditation calmed and released my stress, supported my composure under pressure and heightened my awareness. I noticed that:
- I said, “Yes” when I wanted to say, “No” or, at least, “I don’t know, can I get back to you?”
- I caved in to others’ ideas and suggestions, letting my own input bite the dust.
- I watched how I undermined my own decision-making, second-guessing myself.
- I routinely put other people’s needs and desires before my own.
- I tried so hard to be perfect or what others seemingly wanted me to be.
- And, I realized that I didn’t trust myself.
I came to understand over time that you cannot be trusted unless you trust yourself completely, and you cannot trust others if you do not trust yourself!
It became my imperative to develop self-trust. On the one hand, it is an ongoing project but, on the other hand, it really is doable. Here’s how I did it:
Developing self-trust begins with the daily practice of grounding and centering.
One of my biggest obstacles was that I developed a preference as a child for being out of my body. It felt safer to be out than in; after all, if I were in my body, I would have to feel all the pain I was in.
I now call this “faulty problem-solving.” That is, you ostensibly solve one problem but, in actuality, are creating another. Not only does being out of your body leave your body unattended and defenseless but all of your resources like your intellect, intuition, feelings and innate body intelligence and strength can only be experienced when you are in the body.
And, there’s more: when you are ungrounded, you are scattered, feel overwhelmed, anxious, run late, and will say anything in the moment (because you are not connected to your truth).
I saw that this was the core of my own lack of self-trust and that, in truth, I was not trustworthy. I became highly motivated to become a woman of integrity.
There are many ways to get grounded and centered. The one we teach is a simple breathing and visualization process. Some people are naturally grounded, others spend time in nature or in their garden.
For those whose childhood was challenging, getting back into your body is the way to protect yourself going forward and to release the pain of the past, so it no longer holds you back.
Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t say anything if you are unsure.
This takes discipline and practice, but is essential to developing self-trust.
At first, I only noticed that I had just committed to do something I had no desire to do after the fact. Although I was horrible embarrassed, I forced myself to clean it up, apologizing for wasting the person’s time.
After doing this several times in a row, I was able to catch my words mid-sentence in the moment, and take them back. “Oh, just listen to me! I have no business saying, ‘yes’ to this request. Excuse me, please.”
Finally, I was rewarded: I was able to catch the habitual pattern of giving myself away before I spoke. Although I couldn’t bring myself to say, “no” right away, I would let the person know I needed to think about it, check my schedule and would get back to them by a certain time.
This is such a great technique: buying some time versus acting from a programmed response was liberating! It allowed me to renew my grounding and then to see what was my truth?
Be self-loyal: keep the promises you made to yourself
When you have a pattern of giving yourself away piece-by-piece, you put your own goals at the bottom of your priorities. You keep telling yourself that you will take a walk or a nap to renew your energy when it slumps, but somehow it always slips your mind or you rationalize that you are too busy today (and every day).
How often do you ‘forget’ to go to the ATM or even to go to the bathroom when you need to?
A word here about making and keeping your promises to others. It’s not a good idea to make promises to others if you haven’t kept the ones you previously made!
Pull the rug on yourself! Share that you are mortified that you broke past promises and while you are working to rectify that in yourself, you will let your actions speak louder than your words.
Then make sure that you do. Trust is earned.
Be responsible for handling your own needs, without drama or depleting others.
Consistently handling your own needs, with no muss or fuss, is the way to show up responsibly.
Making sure you are grounded before you show up at work or deal with problems in the home, allows you to be your best self. Neediness pushes others away. Running drama is toxic and completely out of integrity as you are compromising and depleting others.
Years ago, I made a new agreement, that I have kept, to handle my own needs at the beginning of the day, even if it meant getting up a little earlier than usual. Handling my own needs, supported me in being able to give focused attention to my clients, without resentment.
Decide what integrity means to you, what it looks like and sounds like and be in integrity!
Your integrity is your own code of ethics, no matter how the people around you behave, it’s how you behave. Your self-esteem flows from your integrity.
Avoid people who support you in keeping the old patterns alive.
These are the people who undermine your self-trust; they are the ones who try to talk you out of what’s best for you, make light of the issues that you are working on, so that they can still run their own energy-sapping behaviors around you!
When you are ungrounded, you make other people work harder – you forget key details and need to be reminded, you show up late for appointments and sessions with professionals, perhaps without your checkbook!
When you clean up your own act, the behavior of others comes to the fore. Do the individuals who surround you support you? Do they add value? Do you really want them in your life?
Remember that building self-trust is a journey: if you screw up, forgive yourself (and clean up your mess.)
Developing self-trust also includes treating yourself like a best friend. A best friend is patient when they see that you are really committed to new behavior. They will even partner you in gently catching the old programmed responses and question them. “Is this really what you want to say? Is this your truth?”
So, the next time you make a mistake and criticize yourself harshly, catch yourself, and instead say, “Oh, there’s that old pattern again,” or “Oops, let’s try that again.” Creating a safe internal environment for embracing change is essential, so do yourself a favor and start today!
I know that many people are looking for the instant fix, to pop a pill as it were, and as such I was tempted to call this article, The Fastest and Easiest Path to Self-Trust,” or “Three Shortcuts to Developing Self-Trust,” but I would be out of integrity in doing so.
No, it is a journey. Somedays you feel triumphant and exhilarated as you demonstrate a new behavior; other days, you feel as though you haven’t made any progress at all. But even two steps forward and one backward is progress. You will succeed if you keep on, keeping on!
If this article touched a chord in you, or if you would like to share what works for you, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
About the Author, Aimée Lyndon-Adams
Aimée Lyndon-Adams is both a seasoned corporate executive and a metaphysician practicing spiritual energy healing. She has provided coaching and healing sessions to individuals, couples and groups and has offered an energy management curriculum of training classes for many years. She is an articulate and charismatic speaker and facilitator.
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