5 Powerful Ways To Develop Self-Trust

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

1. Honor Your Emotions

To develop self-trust, stop seeking the opinions of others and recognize the guidance within you.

Self-trust is harnessed when we follow our sacred wisdom instead of looking outside ourselves to provide inner peace.

We develop self-trust by honoring our emotions instead of hiding behind them. As you honor your feelings, you develop trust in your capacity to deal with what arises.

Equally, we must distance ourselves from people who undermine our self-trust. Some people push your pain buttons because it pleases them to see you suffer. Whilst they can help us to identify our disowned parts, we are better to distance ourselves from them rather than become embroiled in their deceitful ways.

Self-trust is developed by nurturing our innermost thoughts. Whilst we cannot control external circumstances, we become curious to what is going on inside us instead of retaliate in anger.

“As we learn to recognize and understand the body’s subtle sensations, and then act on them, our self-trust will grow tremendously. To me it is rather amazing that the body has this innate sense of the truth, as if the body is hardwired for it,” states psychotherapist John Prendergast Ph.D.

The subtleties of the human body point to what is going on beneath the surface, so we become attuned to the minor fluctuations and our true needs.

2. Follow the Inner Guidance

It’s vital we honor our commitment to ourselves, whether it be in the goals we set or pursuing our dreams. To dishonor them diminishes our self-trust because we fail to follow through on our plans.

Fostering self-trust involves developing a compassionate dialogue with ourselves. In times of turmoil, we should cultivate compassionate thoughts rather than be ruled by the unfolding drama. We plant the seed of equanimity and nurture it with kindness so it grows strong.

Self-trust arises when we make time to honor the child within us. This means devoting time to be with ourselves, instead of declaring how busy we are, in the midst of craving emotional compassion.

John Prendergast states, “As we learn to slow down, tune in to our inner guidance, and act on it, our self-trust grows. We increasingly get the feel for when something resonates as being true or false for us, in or out of accord. This sense of inner resonance becomes our inner authority.”

Our inner authority is the pillar of a stable emotional life. We take the time to connect with our emotional wellbeing and attend to any disturbances that show up.

3. Understand the Power of Silence

How do you recognize when you need time alone?

Whenever you notice internal unrest, it is a call to spend time in silence to examine the emotions.

It is no surprise our lives are hectic. We are more likely to pay attention to external events instead of meet our personal needs. We spend our waking life fixed on the world “out there” instead of within. Yet, if we continue down this path we neglect our inner life, which influences how we relate to the world.

“How am I doing?”

This simple question allows us to distinguish what is going on inside us, instead of dismissing the emotional disturbances as unjustified.

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” — Golda Meir

Eckhart Tolle states that whenever emotional chaos is apparent, we invite an earlier Pain-Body experience into the present moment. This is obvious when others trigger our Pain-Body, such as being cut off in traffic or someone taking our line in the queue whilst shopping.

If we don’t take the time to examine what is going on beneath the surface, we react instead of interact with our core emotions.

“Most of us have not tried just sitting in and through a feeling experience. We have not trusted ourselves enough to let our feelings take their full course. So we never find out that a feeling is not so tough on us as we imagine it will be. We miss out on how much better we feel when we let go instead of hold back. Nothing is so hard to handle as the fear of facing it,” affirms author David Richo.

Building self-trust does not mean we will always say or do the right thing. Irrespective of our words or actions, whatever arises is there to guide our personal evolution.

4. Develop Mindfulness

A well-known practice for developing self-trust is to be mindful of your body moments before you react to external events. So, with someone taking your place in the shopping queue, move into your body and note any tension or tightness. Become curious toward these sensations and observe them non-judgmentally.

For example, you might be aware of a constricting sensation in your chest moments before retaliating with the person who took your place in the queue at the supermarket.

Be with the emotion and simply notice it without an agenda. Silently repeat the phrase, “I’m aware of you” or as Daniel Goleman suggests, label the emotion. So we affirm to ourselves, anger or fear instead of act on it.

This simple action puts the brakes on deferring our emotions and draws our awareness to what is going on inside us.

In this way we become aware and awake, instead of unconscious to the emotional drivers in our life.

We develop self-trust by honoring every facet of our being irrespective of whether we approve or disapprove of that part of us.

For example, those with a diminished self-esteem might criticize themselves for reacting angrily to a situation. In contrast, those with an empowered self-esteem see it as an opportunity to become inquisitive and a teaching point from which to grow.

5. Work On Heart-Centered Awareness

To develop self-trust is to listen to our heart’s guidance, rather than be dictated by the incessant thoughts.

Our thoughts are saboteurs since they cannot be trusted. Given their volatility from moment to moment, we cannot rely on them to make sense of our environment.

For example, at the end of a working day your thoughts are scattered, while mid-morning after you’ve had a cup of coffee they’re less likely to be reactive.

However, the heart is not influenced by fluctuating mood changes. There is a stillness that longs for you to connect with, even during your darkest hour. Practice moving your awareness into your heart in the midst of the commotion and observe the silence.

Be with the sensations that arise and meet them with openness. You’ll soon realize the habitual and stressful thoughts melt away, leaving a sea of expansiveness that permeates your mind and body.

Self-trust is an invitation to develop a relationship with your core self. We learn to become our own best friend and appreciate the interplay between our thoughts and emotions, instead of remaining unconscious to them.

In doing so, we learn to trust the guidance from our deepest wisdom.

Ultimately, if we continue to place our trust in others’ opinions, we will disengage from our sense of authority and diminish our self-confidence over time.

Why We Need To Advocate For Self-Acceptance, Not Just Body Positivity

Initially, the body positivity movement aimed to end the discrimination of larger bodied people. The movement preached that we should all love our bodies at any size, and that body diversity is beautiful. As the movement grew, supporters advocated for health at any size and dismissed diet culture and weight loss at all costs. Ultimately, the body positivity movement aimed to empower people of all different body types, and the body positivity movement encouraged society as a whole to become more accepting and inclusive of body diversity. These were the initial goals of the body positivity movement.

But when examining the logistics of the body-positivity movement, I can definitely say that body positivity, as a cultural theme, has become a double-edged sword. It can be extremely influential in both a positive and negative way.

Body positivity has its plus sides. It empowers women to feel comfortable in their bodies and it advocates for more inclusion and equality. Body positivity fights back against weight loss protocols and diet culture in general. The body positivity movement also fights against the media, who still portray impossible standards of what a beautiful body “should” look like. Why are we only seeing women who are between size 0 and size 4 everywhere? With 67% of women being over a size 14, the media really needs a reality check. We really need to start putting an end to thin privilege and develop an awareness and acceptance of bodies of all sizes.

So please, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely an advocate of people of all sizes feeling beautiful and confident in their own skin. Beauty clearly comes in every shape and size, and the body positive movement celebrates this. But I also worry that the movement kind of misses the whole point of the direction in which society could (and should) be headed.

Rather than focusing on self-empowerment, self-confidence, and self-love, we are still putting the lens on bodies. We are still hyper-focusing on what we look like on the outside. Our minds are still consumed with thoughts of how our appearance compares to others, and we still believe that our looks reflect our value as human beings. In some ways, this focus on body positivity leads to an overemphasis on our appearance, and still unintentionally stresses the importance of how “pretty we are. In other words, the body positive movement may accidentally lead us into believing that our worth comes from our looks.

When are we going to start to focus instead on women empowering women? On being good human beings. On striving for more than just “pretty.” For one thing, we have no responsibility to be pretty. And for another, we have so much more substance than just a number or a size. We have so much more value, so much more to give back to the world. Yet we keep trying to focus on our bodies.

And this body obsession can be particularly troubling for people who struggle with body image or eating disorders. Emphasizing that we have to love our bodies can be overwhelming, confusing, and can ultimately steal the opportunity for these people to live happy, thriving, recovered lives. Furthermore, moving from body-hate to body-love can be an especially daunting task for someone who has suffered from body image issues and who has not had a good relationship with his/her body in the past.

And there’s another catch 22 with body positivity. None of us will love our bodies 24/7…that’s just a fact. We aren’t always going to feel 100% perfect in every piece of clothing we put on. Some days we are going to feel sluggish and tired, some days we are going to feel bloated and uncomfortable. Some days we are going to feel self-conscious, and we might feel uneasy just showing up. And if we put our worth into how we feel about our bodies, on these days when we don’t feel body positive, we are going to be let down. We are going to feel down. We are going to feel like we aren’t good enough, or pretty enough because once again, it’s all going to come back to our appearance.

But because body positivity has become such a cultural movement, and because #bodypositive will probably continue to be a trending hashtag, it’s best that we make the most of this movement by taking some action and starting a conversation.

I think we should advocate for the acceptance of all bodies, rather than advocating for “body positivity.” Accepting that your body is just as valuable as everyone else’s body is difficult, and it may not necessarily come naturally to you. In some respects, we essentially need to retrain our brains to believe that all bodies are worthy of acceptance and that all bodies are worthy of praise. We have to unlearn the idea that some bodies are more valuable than others. And putting extra value on some bodies means discriminating against other body types. I think if we can put the emphasis on acceptance of diversity, rather than positivity, we will eventually realize that bodies are just bodies, nothing more, nothing less.

If we share the message that all bodies are equal and that we are all much more than just our bodies, I think the tides will begin to change. And most importantly, I think we can all speak out and advocate for kindness and authenticity. Our minds, our thoughts, what we do and who we are are all much more important than just how our bodies look. We need to speak up and share that our true worth is not reflected in our weight, our size, our curves, or our skin color. How we show up to the world physically isn’t nearly as important as who we are as human beings. We aren’t required by anyone to be pretty. But we should be required by ourselves to be good, kind, compassionate human beings.

The body positive movement isn’t inherently wrong. It definitely has its strengths and it has definitely had a powerful impact on the lives of many people. The message of inclusivity is extremely valuable. The confidence that some people have developed as a result of the movement is powerful. However, I think we can take it a step further. I think we can encourage one another to first accept all bodies. We can teach ourselves and others to embrace body diversity. And once we’ve done this, we can move onto what is even more important: who we are. We can lift each other higher for who we are, rather than what we look like. We can compliment people on their thoughts and actions, on their writing and on their creativity. We can let others know how much we value them as friends and as sisters, as coworkers and as mentors.

The important thing is that we start somewhere. And maybe that “somewhere” is a conversation with a friend. Maybe it’s about telling someone when we are feeling insecure in our bodies, and talking about how we can place value on other aspects of our lives, rather than focusing just on our bodies. Maybe it’s about reassuring our loved ones that we think they are beautiful people all around, not just on the outside. And maybe it’s about realizing that while we advocate for body diversity, we can also advocate for self-love – genuine self-love. Because who we are is much more important than what we look like. And once we realize that we are so much more than just bodies, I think we will know we have done the work. 

A Journey To True Self-Love

I’ve been on quite the journey lately. A journey deep inside myself with the goal of learning to truly love the person that I am. It has not been easy. While being kind and loving to others has always been second nature to me, the idea of treating myself with that same compassion and care has proven to be one of the most difficult things in my life. But I’ve been working hard on it, and lately I am better prepared for this battle, one of self-acceptance and love that I didn’t know before.

I found myself wondering why this has always been so hard for me. Why is it often so easy for us to love others but we find this concept of self-love so difficult? Is it because we see the idea of self-love as sort of self-centered and think that loving ourselves is just plain selfish? Or is it easier to love others because we see, for the most part, the best sides of them, whereas we have to see and live with what we may view as the worst parts of ourselves? I get it, self-love is hard and I used to think the same things, that self-love was just some trendy idea thrown around in therapists’ offices. But I now believe it’s so important and that life can be so much more fulfilling when you’re happy with the person that you are.

I know it can also be hard to love yourself if you are, like I am, a perfectionist. For a perfectionist, very few things that we do ever feel like they are good enough. We are constantly striving to be better and to do more in our lives. I’ve struggled with this since I was young. And I’ve come a long way with my perfectionism. I like to say that I’m a “recovering perfectionist”. I’ve learned that imperfections can be beautiful and to let things go more easily. I think having a chronic illness as well as struggling with mental health challenges has forced me to learn to be okay with things being less than ideal, because my body often just won’t let me be that perfect version of myself that I pictured myself becoming and strived so hard to be when I was younger. I’ve accepted that life has had other plans for me. Maybe this has been a blessing in disguise.

I wonder, looking back, how much joy and happiness I missed out on because of my perfectionism and lack of self-love. It makes me sad for the girl I was back then, but it also makes me more determined than ever to learn how to truly love the skin that I’m in today. I want to give that girl a big hug and be the person today that I needed back then. But this has proven to be hard. I’ve asked myself many times how I can really do this; how can I really love myself when I live in a body that is constantly letting me down?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in pain which predominantly leads to me saying, “I hate my body”. It’s not easy to love your body when you feel like it is just a constant source of pain and discomfort. But recently I began to wonder how detrimental that viewpoint was on both my body and soul. Constantly feeling like I hated my body and being a tense, frustrated ball of nerves because of my pain just uses up so much valuable energy that I could be using for so much good. So I decided it was time to flip the narrative. Time to change the words I say to myself on a daily basis. The words we speak to ourselves become what we believe and shape who we are. I decided that I was going to learn to love this body that I’ve been given.

While I used to view self-love as kind of cliché and selfish, I now believe it is a beautiful thing that is so incredibly important, especially as a woman and a person that has a debilitating chronic illness. And if you’re a person who loves to help and serve others, learning to first love yourself is paramount. Alan Cohen said, “You can be helping many people, but if you are not helping yourself, you have missed the one person you were born to heal”. You cannot pour from an empty cup. When we first love and take care of ourselves, we can then love others more fully, with our whole hearts.

So how do we cultivate self-love in our lives when it often seems so elusive? For me, I’ve started by looking back at my journey and the challenges I’ve faced, and I’m learning to love my story and the woman who has overcome so much. I’ve started to think about my pain differently. Rather than viewing it as an enemy that I hate, I’ve started to realize the good that has come from my pain. Because I know what true pain is, I am able to feel and appreciate joy and happiness so much more. I have a different perspective on life because of it. It’s given me a wisdom that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s allowed me to help so many other people who are hurting, because I’ve been there and I know how to make it to the other side. My pain has given me purpose, and that’s something I’ve learned to love.

I’ve recently started doing a meditation to help me change how I think about and view my body and pain. During this meditation, I put my hands on different areas of my body while I breathe in, saying to that part of myself, “I love you”. I then breathe out, while telling myself, “we’re healing”. I’ve been doing this every day, with each part of my body, especially the ones that hurt. When I first started this meditation, I thought it was a little silly and I didn’t believe what I was telling myself, but I did it anyway. And I kept doing it. After a few days, the meditation made me start to cry. I was crying because I was thinking about the woman and girl who used to hate her body so much, this beautiful body that I was now starting to love and appreciate. I felt so much sadness for this girl and how I treated her. I wanted more than anything to change that. Since then, I’ve started to believe the words that I’m telling myself. And its a wonderful, freeing feeling.

You may not need to go this far to begin on a journey of self-love, but I encourage you to make self-love a priority and begin by changing some of the things that you tell yourself and how you see yourself. You can start by learning to forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Beating yourself up for ways that you have failed in the past does nobody any good. If you need to, think about how you would treat a little child or your best friend and how you would forgive them for making a mistake, for being human. Think of yourself this way and try to be kinder to yourself. You are human and in this life you will make mistakes. Use them to learn and grow, and then move on.

How many times have you looked in the mirror and seen things that you don’t like about yourself? I’ve started to look at myself and purposefully change the way I view my body. I now see my scars as battle scars that I am proud of; they show how strong I’ve been and all that I’ve overcome. I encourage you to see your scars in the same way.

Our bodies and lives each tell a story that is so special, a story that no one else has. A story that deserves to be celebrated. My hope for you is that you can start to see your body in a new light. See the wrinkles and lines on your face as reminders of a life well-lived; a life filled with all the beautiful and heartbreaking emotions that come with a life lived fully.

See your hands as hands that have loved, provided for, and served others. Hands that have nurtured your children and created beautiful things. See your arms that have held and supported friends when they were hurting and needed a soft place to land.

See your legs that have carried you through life, navigating each obstacle thrown in your way, carrying you through to the other side each time. It may or may not have been graceful, but they’ve always gotten you where you needed to go. See your feet that have met the floor each morning, even when all you wanted to do was stay hidden under the covers. No matter what life throws at you, somehow you have just kept putting one foot in front of the other and facing each day with strength and grace.

Mamas, see your stretch marks as a beautiful reminder of the life you grew inside of you for nine months and brought into this world. See your grey hairs as proof that you’ve shown up, for your family and friends, even when life gets hard. And you will keep showing up, because you are so strong.

I encourage you, if you struggle with self-love, to try to change the way that you view your body and the words that you say to yourself. Even if you don’t believe it at first, keep telling yourself “I love you”, keep viewing your body as beautiful and strong; I promise it will start to sink in. And when you learn to truly love yourself, not only can you love others more fully, but life becomes a little more beautiful and happiness a little less hard to find. Start to put self-love and self-care a little higher on your list, I don’t think you’ll ever regret it. You are so beautiful, and you deserve nothing less.

Why You Have To Learn How To Accept Yourself No Matter What

The older I get, the more I find myself thinking about the idea of self-acceptance, and what a crucial role it plays in how we all conduct and present ourselves on a daily basis as individuals. As someone who has struggled with social anxiety and depression, you could say I have a lot of personal experience with this concept.

From as early as the age of eight, I’ve compared myself with others, choosing to focus on my supposed physical, emotional, and intellectual deficits in comparison as opposed to my God-given strengths and abilities. When I’m feeling extremely anxious, I’ve noticed that I effectively stifle my personality in fear of appearing too vulnerable or embarrassing myself.

Time and time again, I’ve chosen to believe the lies that I’m not attractive enough (which usually translates to ‘thin’ enough), smart enough, strong enough, enough; period.

Despite having a good number of close friends and family members who have continually affirmed me and recognized the beauty in my individuality, I still continue to believe these horrible lies about myself; about who I’ve been created to be.

Despite identifying as a feminist and strongly if not overwhelmingly agreeing with the feminist ideas of body positivity regardless of shape or size and finding one’s self worth in individual capabilities rather than physical appearance and allure, I still believe I am not physically attractive enough and therefore somehow worth less than others.

For the majority of my 25 years, I’ve begun to realize that I’ve both consciously and unconsciously rejected, rather than embraced, countless unique, God-given attributes of myself–from my fuller figure to my being a verbal processor. I’ve asked myself questions of the like countless times: Why don’t I look more like her? Why can’t I just be an internal processor who isn’t so obnoxious and emotional? Why am I always so sensitive? Why do I sound like such an airhead when I try to make a point compared to that smart girl in class?

Today, in reflecting upon these thoughts and many more, I realized something else: the majority of these self-deprecating thoughts have their root in comparison not just to another individual, but mostly to other women. And while I’ve tended to pride myself as one confident enough to be genuinely happy for others in their own personal achievements and happiness, I’m beginning to see that I’m in reality sometimes jealous of them, whether in regards to physical appearance, relationship status or otherwise, and have effectively fallen into the trap our culture sets for women: that we should believe ourselves to be inherently inferior to and therefore be envious of the strengths and abilities of other women, constantly and aggressively competing with them. All too often, what actress Tina Fey in Mean Girls so eloquently described as “girl-on-girl crime” seems to take the form of comparison, whether of the physical, emotional, intellectual or otherwise personal variety.

If another woman appears to be more attractive, intelligent, is in a relationship while you aren’t; fill in the blank, our culture tells us we need to do whatever we can do to beat or outmaneuver them in order to validate our own personal sense of self-worth. Even in demonstrating self-acceptance, we often do it at the expense of other women as though we have something to prove. Consider, for example, the messages of the “empowering” musical anthems of our day written by female artists, such as the bridge and chorus of Meghan Trainor’s hit, “Me Too”:

I thank God every day

That I woke up feeling this way,

And I can’t help loving myself, and I don’t need nobody else (nu-uh)

If I was you, I’d wanna be me too (x3)

While I will clarify that I greatly appreciate Trainor’s musical style, I believe she is very talented and would consider myself a fan, I will also say that I respectfully disagree with the way she goes about getting her message across here. While I certainly admire her self-love and am not denying her right to do so, I do not believe self-acceptance needs to or should be expressed in a way that implies individual strengths can only be recognized in light of others’ inferiority in comparison.

I honestly believe that women like Meghan Trainor in many cases don’t even realize that they’ve fallen into the trap of comparison when attempting to communicate self-love. In this way, the true idea of true, unabashed self-acceptance in the absence of comparison as a woman in today’s society remains radical in comparison to the self-hatred and body dissatisfaction that is culturally encouraged.

Even more radical, then, is the idea that Christ died for each and every one of us despite our being completely undeserving so that we could be given the privilege of a relationship with God, our creator.

While we haven’t all been born prophets, the fact that He has created us each as unique individuals with a purpose speaks volumes about His love for us and our inherent worth; far more than our comparison or perceived superiority to other women ever could. While Christianity and feminism are often assumed and treated as though they are at odds with one another, I don’t believe this to be true. If God accepts and loves us unconditionally in our belief, how much more should we accept ourselves as He has created us to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually? This is, of course, much easier said than done, and is something I can admit I haven’t yet achieved. I’ve started by choosing to remind myself daily of some of my strengths–such as that I am easily able to personally connect and empathize with people, that i am loving, caring and that I’m deeply passionate about mental health and hope to work in the field in the future. As a Christian and a woman, I believe it is necessary and possible to recognize and praise God for these abilities and more that He has gifted me with. Radical, but possible.