How to Swap Self-Doubt For Self-Trust
My childhood house had a driveway that sloped down toward the street. My sisters and I would spend hours rollerblading down the driveway, zooming toward the (quiet) street, shrieking as we gathered speed. It was exhilarating. Euphoric. I felt fearless, unstoppable, like the fastest six-year-old in the world.
But one day, as I roller-bladed around the top of my driveway, I wasn’t so sure about going down. It wasn’t the pavement I was worried about—it was myself.
What if I tried to brake and couldn’t? What if I took a turn too hard and wiped out? I had realized, all of a sudden, that I wasn’t invincible. I could push off from the top of the hill and fall, and the only way to prevent it was by staying put.
It wasn’t confidence that was the issue. I knew that I could make it down the hill unscathed—I’d done it hundreds of times before. But I had lost the innate trust in myself, in my six-year-old roller-blading ability, and in the resilience I would need to fall and get back up again.
Self-confidence gets plenty of air time, but it’s rare that we talk about self-trust: the ability to count on ourselves and our instincts. It’s the understanding that we know what we’re doing and we have everything we need to do it, even when the hill looks a little steep.
Self-trust fuels us through job interviews and difficult breakups, sure, but it’s essential for the little things, too: sticking to a meditation practice. Leading a new project at work. Deciding between colors for your new duvet cover. Without faith in yourself, you might find yourself taking your cues from others, or letting your doubts get the best of you.
Like self-confidence, it’s not just an asset some have while others miss out. It’s a muscle that needs flexing, one that can be made stronger with some hard work and a few perspective changes.
Need to rebuild trust in yourself? Join the club. Here’s how to get started.
Watch Your Body Work
Need proof that you have things handled? Take a moment to focus on your breath. Notice how air floods your lungs as you inhale. Place your hand on your chest to feel your heartbeat. Sit in stillness for a moment or two and just watch your body work.
You trust your lungs to expand as you breathe in and your heart to keep beating, so why wouldn’t you trust your mind to make the right decisions?
Your breath may get ragged and shallow from time to time, and your heart may pound in your chest at moments, but it always evens back out again.
Talk About What You’ve Done Before
Sometimes, hearing yourself describe your hard work out loud can remind you of what you’re capable of. Studies have shown that celebrating successes out loud—even by talking to yourself—can help you to really feel their weight.
Remembering that you’re able to accomplish what you put your mind to can inspire even more creative thinking, and it can help you trust yourself in tackling whatever it is you set your mind to.
Make a ‘Done’ List
Just as you’d jot down a to-do list at the start of the week, take a few moments on Friday afternoon to tally what you’ve already accomplished. That could be anything from finally signing up for your company’s 401(k) plan to making it to yoga class. If you did it, put it on the list.
Having all your accomplishments spelled out in front of you can help you really feel their significance and serve as a physical reminder that you have things handled. Leave it on your desk or work bag over the weekend, so when Monday rolls around your reminded of your power.
Focus on Consistency—Not Consistent Greatness
We’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating: aim for consistency, rather than consistent wins. If you expect a big success every day, of course you won’t trust yourself to deliver. Nobody could!
Shifting your expectations to consistency can help you rebuild your relationship with success—and your belief in your ability to succeed.
Practice Making—and Keeping—Promises
Think of your most trustworthy friends. Do they show up when they say they will, or send apology texts moments before plans? Anyone can make a persuasive promise, but trust is predicated on the follow-through.
Just like you promise to come through for your friends, do the same for yourself—and then make good on your word.
Maybe you promise to spend five minutes of your lunch break free-writing, rather than scrolling through social media. It’s manageable, but requires enough effort on your part.
When you make it happen, that promise and follow-through will remind you that you can trust yourself.
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