Podcast Episode 97: Trust Yourself
Just trust yourself!
How many times have you heard that, especially in the middle of a decision, or as you’re wavering in doubt?
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times.
The more I learn about myself,though, the more this phenomenon makes sense. You see, my internal makeup is predetermined to NOT trust myself.
Let me explain:
See what I mean? The innate lack of trust in my own ability to make decisions, my value and my opinions? This is what I work to overcome.
Every. Single. Day.
Granted, many will say that’s the definition of growth. And I’m not inclined to disagree, but I like to wallow in thinking I have it harder than most… nah, not really. I know that YOU struggle with this same thing too… just in different ways! Am I right?
Look at every decision you haven’t yet made - or worse, didn’t make when you could have. Look at how you devalue your own worth by putting off the new things you know would make a difference in your own happiness, satisfaction or career growth. Look at how often you stay silent, afraid to speak for fear of “offending” someone… anyone… or even the thought that your opinions don’t matter because you’re not “someone of importance.
That’s our topic today. Trusting yourself.
I had a conversation on my podcast, recently, with Kara Bitar. (Podcast Episode 96) She shared her own story of feeling driven to achieve an external goal for her career, which she believed would indicate she’d reached her potential… only to realize that goal and her perception of it had nothing to do with who she really is. Who she was created to be. How she’s wired.
She realized - through hard circumstances and diligent personal work - that deep down, she KNEW that was never the path for her, and made a courageous decision to begin trusting herself to figure out exactly who she is and what she needed to be doing in order to thrive.
But first, let’s talk about what it means to TRUST - especially to trust yourself.
You know me, I love a good dictionary definition, and this one doesn’t disappoint! Are you ready for this?
If you’re familiar with my personal growth philosophy, Intentional Optimism, you’ll recognize a few themes here.
In the tenet of:
You see, trust is integral to any relationship.
Without it, there is no foundation upon which to build. Where there is no belief in the reliability of one’s word, or support, or the strength of connection, we lose confidence and faith in that relationship. We become suspicious, and doubtful.
Now take this definition, and these realities, and walk over to the mirror and look yourself in the eyes. I know, it’s hard, but it will be worth it.
If you’re honest you’ll admit there is at least one area where you lack trust in yourself.
It could be as benign and simple as setting a goal of exercising 4 times this week. Or as big and terrifying as finally deciding to walk away from that toxic job or abusive relationship.
I’m not here to shame you today. I’m not here to tell you that you just need to “get over it,” and I’m not here to tell you to ignore the thoughts of fear and doubt and “just do it.” At best, that’s horribly naive. At worst, it’s dangerous.
What I AM here to do, is to give you some encouragement and options, based on my own journey and expertise, on how to begin to trust yourself in the small areas, and develop the courage and resilience you need to trust yourself in the big ones.
I’d like to highlight three things I’m doing that have helped me build my own self trust. Trusting myself has made a difference, and you can begin learning to trust yourself, right now.
First, where does mistrust come from?
Based on the definition, somewhere along the line we lose belief in the reliability, truth, or strength of our own value, abilities or opinions. Some of this is due to natural inclination (like me describing my personality type), some is due to experiences and circumstances outside our control, but some, (just shooting it straight here) is due to our own unwillingness to look deeper into our own reactions to those circumstances and situations.
For instance, my sweet mother notoriously said to me one day (I don’t even remember exactly when this was, or why she said it, but) “Andrea, not everyone wants to hear your opinion.”
I give her the benefit of the doubt here, because I was a very wordy, precocious child and tweener, and I now have a 13 ½ year old son with VERY similar traits. So I know what that’s like as a parent. Unfortunately, instead of evaluating it for what it could have been - a very helpful admonishment to “read the room,” - I allowed it to burrow deep down and become a pattern of thought that took years to overcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that those who put you down, gaslight you and tell you that you are somehow “less than” because of your gender, skin color, economic status, personality type or belief system aren’t wrong or at fault. Because for us WOMEN, there are already so many thoughts and socially accepted restrictions that are commonplace, adding anything on top of that just seems unreasonably cruel. Yet, people do. Every day.
AND…It’s not only injustices that feed this malady - it’s expectations and standards. You might sigh and say “Andrea, they’re the same thing!” You have a point - yet many of those standards are set by people who love us, and want to protect us, like my mom. Sometimes it just seems easier to figure out a way to navigate all the potholes in the road than it is to repave it.
But - your thoughts can be different.
Your thoughts can be the ones that break the cycle, ensuring you're not the one perpetuating the same expectations and standards we’ve all been handed. You can learn to trust the reliability of your own intuition, the strength of your own value, and the validity of your own opinions.
You see, I get angry - like, REALLY angry - when I watch another woman give in to what I perceive to be an inner voice telling her to stop.
None of these things are true.
So how do you overcome mistrust?
My mission is to equip and empower female leaders to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively - in any situation, team or organization.
And those are my three steps:
So let’s revisit the definition, shall we?
Trust: the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Now let’s put it into action…
Think Critically - examine the areas where you don’t currently trust yourself:
I confess, my list has been a long one. From silly things like resisting the chip bowl blurting out my first thought in the middle of an argument. It’s easy to nitpick all day long, finding every little thing you don’t trust in yourself, but the reality is when you start to trust yourself in the big things, the little things are a no-brainer.
That's the opposite, I know, of the conventional understanding of how that power usually flows. Normally we talk about taking baby steps. You know, “small, consistent changes over time yielding big results.” But I tell you, from personal experience, it will take you from here to eternity to babystep your way from trusting yourself to not grab an extra chip to trusting yourself to make big, life-altering decisions. And, quite frankly, one of have that long.
To think critically means you’re willing to step back from a thought, assumption or belief, and examine it from all sides. Ask yourself where it came from. Did it truly come from someone else, or (like me) did it start as one thing and you made it something else? Is there evidence that supports it to the extent that it need not be challenged, or is the evidence one-sided?
Yes, this can be a scary process. I know. First hand. But in order to learn to trust yourself, you must know what thoughts, assumptions and beliefs are truly yours, and which ones are not. You just need to know.
Create Imaginatively - look for “out of the box” solutions.
Where can you make changes that you’ve not previously considered? This is your opportunity to make that critical thinking process just a little less scary. Try something new! Maybe it’s reading or listening to a new viewpoint. Perhaps it’s trying a new process or activity. When you let your curiosity out to play, even with topics or belief systems that are enormous in your world, you can create spaces where you are truly just exploring. The big issues can be reduced to a manageable size, and you can place them all out where you can see them. I know, this sounds incredibly abstract… let me illustrate by sharing a personal story.
When my mother died of cancer in 2017, it wasn’t a surprise, but it was a shock to me. A big enough shock that I was finally willing to begin exploring the questions and incongruencies that had lived in my heart and mind for many years - to start looking for my own answers. Now, mind you, I’m a little famous in my family as being a critical thinker. Mostly because I have always asked “why?” About pretty much everything. As an adult, however, I found myself desiring to fit in more and more, so I dug deeper and deeper into the cultural norms in which I lived and worked.
That shock, realizing my beautiful, intelligent, mother was gone, and that I am now the oldest female in my family, was enough to send me on a journey. I don’t want to get too serious here, so I’ll cut to the chase.
I discovered podcasts. I also discovered female theologians. And I discovered discord between female theologians (gasp!), and I wanted to know what the hullabaloo was all about. So, I looked up and downloaded Jen Hatmaker’s podcast.
The silly part of this story is this: The very first time I turned on that podcast, I was in my car, by myself, with my windows up. As I pulled out of my driveway I looked both ways - for cars AND for anyone who might notice or hear that I was listening to THAT podcast! When I realized what I was doing, I laughed so hard I nearly swerved off the road!
Ever since, I remind myself that I WANT differing viewpoints. I seek them out. I want to be able to see and hear the beauty in another’s ideas whether I agree with them on every point or not. That one action allowed me to imagine a whole new future.
Side note: I hope to one day be able to share that story with her, as she has inspired me, with her courage, to move through the critical examination of my own thoughts, assumptions and beliefs with intense and creative imagination.
You might find, like Kara Bitar, that a specific type of yoga practice is a great place to begin. Or, like my friend Lee McCraw-Leavitt, that an art practice will allow you to process all that thinkery. If you’re a mom of small children, perhaps looking at how (and what) you teach them differently is the creative outlet you need.
No matter what you choose, creating an appreciation and room for your OWN thoughts, intuition and opinions will give you the courage to examine the ones that you already have, more closely.
Leading Effectively is an authentic outpouring of understanding who you are.
So, not so much a third step, as it is a result, being an effective leader will put you in positions, rooms, circumstances and opportunities where you can shine. Having the skill of critical thinking will allow you to evaluate options, exercise discernment and make wise decisions for yourself.
Remember - the first person you lead is yourself.
As you dig deeper and get to know you - the woman you have always been, but might not have understood - a new kind of confidence will emerge.
A belief and understanding that even when you don’t know the answer, you can figure it out. A freedom from constant second-guessing every major decision, because you know that you can always reevaluate, and get creative to find the answer. Faith that as you lead others, you will continue to think critically through the options and opportunities, in order to find creative solutions.
You might call it trust.
When you trust yourself, others are drawn to trust you as well. When they trust you, you can lead them. You can be an effective leader.
So what’s stopping you?
Trust is integral to any relationship - especially the relationship you have with yourself.
When you look in the mirror, do you see someone you trust? Do you appear to have it all together on the outside, but inside you're wasting away because you don’t trust who you truly are, who you were created to be?
This message is for YOU, my friend.
Yes, I get angry when I see women climb into that box they’ve been told is the extent of their power and influence… because I WAS that woman.
But I’m not anymore. It doesn’t have to be you.
It’s time to trust you.
My passion is to equip and empower YOU. How can I help you think more critically? Do you need help creating imaginative options? Well, here I am!
It brings me GREAT joy to watch you realize your own leadership potential as you develop trust in yourself. So the question is - how can I help you? Check out my website, and see If you’d like to chat more. If so, you can email me or set up a 30 min consultation where we can figure out a good strategy for you.
Until next time.
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