Did you know that every single one of us is born with an inner resource that, if nurtured and cultivated by our caregivers at a young age, would've nurtured us to thrive with self-love?
This resource is self-trust. Think about it: every baby knows when she's hungry and tired. Every toddler knows what he likes to eat and with whom he wants to socialize. As children, we grow up knowing ourselves — our rhythms, tastes and preferences. But because the "big people" around always told us that they knew better, we believed them and our intrinsic self-trust became buried.
Eventually, we became conditioned to seek the approval and guidance of others instead of trusting our own. As a result, many of us suffer from the symptoms of self-doubt: crippling indecision, constant desire for approval, perfectionism, and the fear of failure.
Not only does self-trust become buried beneath the belief that everyone else knows better than we do, but it becomes weakened by our constant desire to receive external validation. Self-trust sits like a precious stone at the bottom of the well of self. When the waters of the well of self are full — when you know yourself and trust yourself — you will love yourself.
In other words, knowing yourself + loving yourself = trusting yourself
We learn early on that if we do things "right," we will receive the smiles of our caregivers and teachers — oh, how those smiles feel like sunlight to a young person's emerging selfhood! When we seek validation in this way, it's like walking around holding a bottomless bucket, waiting for it to be filled. While we may experience happiness or reassurance when someone gives us approval, these feelings are short-lived.
That's why the bucket is bottomless: we could spend the rest of our lives climbing up a corporate, educational, creative, or social ladder. We could achieve everything externally that we ever thought would bring happiness. And yet we could still be left without the experience of true and sustainable fulfillment.
Healthy self-trust is like having an internal GPS system: you know where to go next, you trust your decisions both big and small, and you're willing to take risks. You won't fear failure or making mistakes because your sense of self isn't externally derived.
Just as we don't gaze upon a newborn baby and say, "I will love you if you attend Harvard Medical School and marry a beautiful partner and have two healthy children and make tons of money," we shouldn't make the notion of loving ourselves conditional, dependent upon external factors.
You are worthy because you exist. Your self-doubt and perfectionism may be standing in the way of manifesting those gifts, but they're there nonetheless, like an effervescent river finding its way from your inner depths out into the world.
Well-being hinges upon self-trust. Is it possible to learn how to trust yourself when you've abdicated your self-trust your entire life? Without a doubt. Since self-trust is your birthright it was yours from the start and still lives inside of you, sitting unbroken like a shimmering crystal.
As with all areas of self-growth, the path of healing requires time, patience, and commitment. Change doesn't occur in thirty days or in three simple steps, but following these simple guidelines will help to redirect your attention from the external to the internal, thereby beginning the process of restoring self-trust:
1. Start and end each day by turning inward.
This means that instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, you reach for your journal, book of inspiration, take a moment for yourself. Try engaging in a simple yoga or breath practice. When practiced every day, this action alone will help you redirect the focus of your attention from external to internal and will change your life.
2. Get to know your intrinsic wiring.
Embrace your form of intelligence, your temperament, and your level of sensitivity. When you learn about the many forms of intelligences, as Howard Gardner brilliantly elucidated, you restore a piece of yourself self-knowledge and self-love, which restores your self-trust. The same is true with temperament and sensitivity.
3. Go on a Facebook diet.
If you struggle with caring about what others think, Facebook is guaranteed to amplify this struggle. It's nearly impossible to go onto Facebook without comparing yourself to others in some way. If Facebook is a way that you communicate with friends, try picking up the phone instead.
Experiment with these suggestions for 30 days and see how you feel. I have yet to work with someone who didn't notice a difference in their levels of self-trust and peace when they implemented these changes and learned to funnel their precious time and energy inward in nourishing ways.