Self trust is mandatory in order to think for yourself. You may have the most brilliant ideas in history, but if you don’t believe that they are valuable, if you are unwilling to stand behind them in the face of scrutiny and doubt- they are lost.

Social pressure

First, self trust is necessary to overcome societal pressures. Very often we adopt tastes and preferences simply because it is ‘what is done’. We think that the common mind knows best. We accept popular ideals without consideration. (We learned about this last week with the ‘bandwagon fallacy’).

Except we do this in instances where there is no cause to. In matters of expertise, yes, it makes sense to defer to the knowledge of others. But in matters of lifestyle, of personal taste, of personal codes of conduct- these hold no experts. There is no person who best knows how you should live your life. There is no collective who can dictate to you what food you should prefer, music you should love or how you should dress. No one else should dictate when you get married or if you buy a house.

Question your choices

Very often we fall into some category or other, but without much thought. Ask yourself sometime; why do I eat this way? Why do I wear these clothes? Why do I go to church/not go to church?

Very often we discover it is more out of habit and past training than out of thought and consideration as to our own preferences.

Holding and trusting your judgment

Second, self trust is necessary to listen to your own judgments. As a passive person, and a former codependent, I often had no idea what my opinions were. I was there to make others happy.

It took someone who loved me to reveal this to me. My partner wanted to know my preferences, my tastes, my opinions. But looking inside, I had none. 

This was a reaction to being over-ridden again and again. This was a guard against being hurt when I had to give way to appease others. As codependents, or those in contentious situations know; often we are what breaks. We give up our desires to achieve harmony.

And then we wonder why we can’t decide what we want in life.

Further, for those of us who have experienced emotional abuse, we have been taught not to trust our perceptions. Gas lighting is a classic example of this- were an abuser makes you question your memory and perception of reality.  This can make self trust nearly impossible. 

A prerequisite

Loving and trusting yourself means knowing it’s okay to have opinions and needs. In the desire to be liked, or accepted, we can allow our own voice to be overwhelmed.

Thinking for ourselves requires self knowledge. We must have an opinion to act on it. We must be willing to make a choice in order to create action. This can be scary coming from a place of passivity. But it is mandatory if we are to move forward in our lives. It is necessary if we are to answer the questions of our lives.

Steps towards self trust
  • Step 1: Believe yourself. One of the most important realizations I had with respect to emotional abuse and codependency was this: I get to decide what is real for me. Once I gave myself permission to believe my viewpoint- regardless of other people’s chatter- everything changed.
  • Step 2: Form opinions. Another game changer? Actually considering what my opinion was. When someone asked, ‘what do you want for dinner?’, I actually considered the question. I didn’t immediately defer to other’s preferences. 
  • Step 3: Observe yourself coming through. Often we have this idea that we are failures, or always mess things up. It is important to observe ourselves coming through. When I first started this work, I didn’t view myself as trustworthy, because I let myself down again and again. When I went to build my self trust, I started noticing how often I helped and supported others. People in my life viewed me as trust worthy, this allowed me to believe the same. 

These steps have an eye to codependency, namely because this group struggles especially with this area. However, these steps are important for everyone in building self trust in our opinions and judgement. 

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