3 Ways to Learn How to Trust Yourself
Any business can try to brew a soda, fry chicken, or make an industrial lubricant. But if you think about Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or WD-40, those companies have become blockbuster brands by virtue of their storied secret ingredients (in addition to some darned good marketing).
The same is true when you think about activating your full potential. Instead of working yourself into the ground, voraciously networking or constantly seeking a golden opportunity, the secret ingredient that is going to make or break your success often comes down to having plenty of self-trust and confidence.
Think of it this way. It doesn’t matter how many smarts you have if they’re underutilized because you lack the confidence to move forward. You may have had confidence in spades in the past and a disappointment knocked you off your game. Perhaps you possess it in one area, but not in the ways needed to pull yourself past the obstacle before you. Whatever the case, it is never too late to learn how to finally trust yourself again.
What it means to trust yourself
When you trust yourself, the counsel you seek above all others is your own. You feel confident about your decisions and are willing to take risks. Even when desired outcomes don’t manifest, it doesn’t matter. You know that you’ll figure it all out and rise up again. That’s because your belief in yourself is strong. In an increasingly uncertain world, you’re sure of yourself. And that kind of self-confidence is a powerful predicator of success.
Here are three ways to maximize your trust and belief in yourself:
1) Practice self-compassion.
Have you found that constantly beating yourself up and second-guessing decisions seems to make everything worse? It’s time to bring on some self-compassion, which involves being honest yet kind with yourself when assessing a circumstance.
Start by choosing a specific situation from your life. For example, let’s say that you’ve been diagnosed as morbidly obese. Your doctor is worried about recent blood-work results that point to the potential for heart disease or diabetes. Since learning this news weeks ago, you’ve been racked with fear and self-loathing, berating yourself for damaging your own health.
Take a deep breath and write down the circumstance in detail, on a screen or paper. Then let it sit for a couple of hours or days; the intent is to create distance between the situation and your harsh self-judgment.
Now think about your best friend—you know, the person who always has your back no matter what. What would they say if you were sharing this circumstance with them? As a supportive pal, I’m assuming they would listen intently and express confidence that you can make the desired changes with a different approach.
Going back to your write-up about the circumstance, add that kind of response to yourself. Lead with thoughtfulness instead of withering criticism, be understanding and acknowledge your fears. Reinforce your positive qualities and express why you know that you’ll claim better health, just as your friend would.
2) Continue the kindness.
Check in on yourself on a weekly basis. Give yourself kudos for progress and a compassionate reality check when needed. Point out what you’ve done right while committing to changing what isn’t working. Recognize that no one is perfect and that you’re only harming yourself by trying to live by an impossible standard.
It’s all about striking a balance in the way you regard yourself, and ensuring that no matter what happens, self-love is present. The ability to completely trust yourself is only going to come when you can be self-compassionate. Seeing yourself in that more balanced, positive, and honest light helps diminish internal criticism.
3) Create a reverse bucket list.
A bucket list (as in “kicking the bucket”) contains the things you wish to experience before dying. In a reverse bucket list, you list those things you’ve already accomplished to serve as irrefutable evidence of your commitment to yourself.
Listing these items reinforces that when you have a goal, you can be trusted to accomplish it. For example, you might feel stuck about how to handle an excessive amount of credit card debt. Rather than berate yourself for not handling your finances well, which just creates a sense of shame without solving the problem, consider what you have achieved.
Did you graduate from college? Organize a successful fundraiser for your child’s school? Learn how to swim after being terrified of water? These achievements all serve as proof of your talents and skills.
Taking a third-party perspective—like a benevolent yet emotionally uninvolved bystander glancing at your life—can help. List everything that comes to mind, and jot down a few notes about how each accomplishment makes you feel.
This step builds confidence and boosts your self-efficacy, reinforcing that if you were able to crush those other tasks, you can get unstuck with credit card debt or whatever challenge is top of mind right now.
Think better when you see things visually? Here’s my video on how to create a reverse bucket list.
Learning how to finally trust yourself again if things didn’t go as planned in the past, or to rely on your own wisdom and counsel for guidance for the first time, will help you get unstuck and experience tremendous success at work and at home.
How have you learned how to trust yourself? What changes in your professional or personal life came as a result of that increased self-confidence?
Looking for a step-by-step process to help you get unstuck and stay that way for good? Check out my book Free and Clear: Get Unstuck and Live the Life You Want. It is chock-full of helpful tips, easy-to-use tools and inspirational stories of individuals who overcame obstacles against the odds.