Do you trust yourself?
Can you count on yourself?
Do you keep your promises to yourself?
Do you trust that you have what it takes no matter what life presents?
It's absolutely essential to trust yourself if you want to find, create, or experience an emotionally safe and healthy relationship with anyone else!
Who do you trust? You might think there are people you should trust, but do you really trust them? You cannot trust anyone fully until you can trust yourself. That's the starting point.
In Kaizen For Couples, I wrote,
"You come by your unwillingness to trust yourself very honestly. If you are like most children, you were told what to do, what to think, what to value, and how to behave. You have spent your life listening to others; parents, teachers, pastors, managers, leaders. You might choose what you have been told to choose. You were told who you are and who you should be. You molded yourself to the feedback others gave you about what was good, bad, and good enough. You sought approval and reached for recognition and acceptance.
In a healthy world, it makes sense to learn from the experiences and wisdom of others, to rely on their learning and follow their lead. The world and its inhabitants are not always healthy and the learning is not always helpful. And, there is a high cost that often is extracted in your adult life: you get in the habit of shaping yourself to the desires, preferences, and expectations of others. In doing that, you risk losing yourself. And, you lose--or fail to develop--the ability to trust yourself! In the worst cases, you freeze without their direction. You are unable to make decisions and choices because you lack trust in your own insights and inner knowing."
We rely on some people. When we were kids, we had to rely on our parents to bring us food. Maybe, they were reliable. Maybe, they were neglectful. You were learning how the world works right then.
Trustworthy is a whole lot different than reliable. You can have a wonderful housekeeper who arrives on time, cleans everything you've agreed to, and does a great job. She's reliable. When you actually give her the key to your house, you have then crossed over from reliable to trustworthy. Big difference! It's important to know who in your life is reliable, and to know who is trustworthy. Maybe, you would trust your partner to make life decisions for you if you were in a coma, yet s/he is unreliable about coming home at the agreed upon time. It works both ways.
Right now, though, focus on where trust starts: within you. That relationship with yourself is the basis for every other relationship. Are you trustworthy in the promises you make to and about yourself?
If you have had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) like those we talked about on this Relationship Help Show episode, you'll be even less likely to keep those promises. You may have become hyper-vigilant to what other people are thinking and feeling, and no longer pay attention to what's going on within you. That's a sad fact that comes from being invalidated, neglected, and invisible in childhood.
When the models we live with as children are poor, dysfunctional, and damaging, we are unaware. We don't know anything different. We're just trying to keep "The Giants," our parents and other adults, happy so they'll keep us fed and somewhat safe. We can't prevent ourselves from taking in emotional messages that are less than fair, just, and uplifting. We're just little, and it's all we know. In fact, if you've had adverse childhood experiences, you may have been inadvertently taught to trust the totally wrong people in life. Not surprising that you keep on doing that as an adult!
Now, though, we can know better. And, in knowing better, we can do better. That's great news!
We can re-calibrate ourselves. We can re-engineer ourselves. We can refresh ourselves. Whoo-hoo! We can learn to trust ourselves.
When you cannot trust "The Giants" as a child, you internalize that as not being able to trust yourself, either. That's because, when you were little, you believed you and "The Giants" were all one person. You were still connected. And, you needed them for everything so you believed and took in everything as true. What if "The Giants" were wrong? What if they were troubled, fearful, or incapable of love. That's about them, not about you. See how there is work to do to re-write your own story yourself?
Get "The Giants" out of your head now, and focus on what's possible in this moment, right now. Step up and live from your own values, visions, beliefs, and goals.
You can learn to trust yourself. Are you ready to? Great!
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, provides the insights, skills, strategies, and support you need to create the life and relationships you want. She works with her clients from all over the globe through online video conferencing. Dr. Shaler hosts the weekly Relationship Help Show on the syndicated BBS Radio Network. When you are ready to escape the cycles of drama, alienation, and crazy-making, she's ready to work with you in private or small group sessions. Subscribe to her blog and newsletter when you visit her website: ForRelationshipHelp.com