I think a lot of us assume we trust ourselves, but I learned recently that maybe the person I trust the least in this world is myself. It felt like a devastating and even dramatic realization, so I want to share with you how I’m repairing that trust.
I’ve spoken very openly about my experience in therapy and how life changing it has been. One of the things I am most grateful for is my therapist helping me discover the critical voice that I carried (and still do). I realized that so much of my perfectionism, high expectations, and negative self-talk were really this one part of me just being really really really loud. And yes, we worked with it and explored it and tried to get to a point of understanding where that part was coming from and eventually to a point of compassion. And yes, that part gets quieter and easier to exist with. But that isn’t the part of this experience I want to share today.
About a year ago I realized my critical voice was showing up most often as self doubt. I would have an idea of something I wanted to try for my business and it was immediately interrupting me, doubting that I’d ever act on it. Recently I’ve had to make some pretty big lifestyle changes for my health and as I was researching and exploring and planning I felt this voice doubting that I could actually stick to it and see it through. When it comes to parenting I would notice it after I made a decision or had a big conversation doubting how I handled it and whether my follow through was there. It was such a downer. And that voice quickly spiraled and many times did force me to stay still and not act.
When I finally recognized this was happening I forced myself to pause and sit in the discomfort that comes when you realize you’re self sabotaging. What I found felt devastating. The truth is there is a large part of me that doesn’t trust myself. A huge part of me doubts my abilities, capabilities, capacity, strength, and resilience. After so many years (cough: or a lifetime) of putting my needs last my brain and body have been conditioned to believe I don’t follow through for myself. If it’s for someone else, I am right there and on top of it. If it is for me, nope. And this applies to so many areas of my life: my health, my fitness, my habits, my dreams, my hobbies, etc. And my brain has all the data to prove I am in fact not trustworthy to myself. Name me the Queen of Broken Self Promises.
You can imagine that this discovery rocked me quite a bit. But as much as I’m a people-pleasing perfectionist, I am also a problem solver. I immediately started thinking through how I was going to go about repairing and rebuilding this trust because I knew it wasn’t as simple as just deciding to trust myself from here on out. (If only.)
The first thing I did was make a list of tiny habits or actions that I wanted to shift or change. I’m talking TINY. Little actionable items that I could tell myself I wanted to do then actually do them. Baby steps towards showing myself I was going to do what I said I was going to do. This looked like:
-Every time I wash my hands I’m going to dry them ALL THE WAY. Even if kids are on the other side of the door begging for the snack I told them I would get in just a minute. Even if I’m in a hurry to run out the door, I am going to dry my hands completely. (Told you they were small- and seemingly silly.)
-I am going to floss my teeth once a day. I have never ever been a flosser. Who has time for that?! I was one of the many who lied to my dentist about how often I floss even though I’m sure they can tell when they look in my mouth. But not any more, I’m actually going to do it. And guess what, it takes 30 seconds, and I do in fact have time for that.
-When I have to go to the bathroom I’m going to get up and go to the bathroom. I’m not going to hold it in the name of cranking out another item on my to do list first. I’m going to take care of myself right now, in the moment, when I need to.
That’s where I started. Micro self care. Baby promises. Little steps towards rebuilding. And you probably won’t be surprised to hear those tiny actions have started snowballing. Those actions then turned into:
-I’m going to work out everyday that the kids are in school. A goal I’ve had and struggled to remain consistent with for years.
-I’m going to make myself real lunches and not just graze or snack.
-I’m going to read before bed at night and not just doom scroll.
And I’ve actually been consistently doing all of these things and building back healthy habits, and with it is coming trust. My brain now has data to show that I am in fact capable of showing up for myself when I say that I will and doing things for myself that I say I’m going to do.
Now, I can’t end this post by telling you I have regained all trust I lost and that I trust myself above anyone else and that I know I’ll never ever break a promise to myself ever again. I’m not there. But I can tell you that over the last few months of this “experiment” it has become increasingly easier to recognize my needs and tend to them. I have been able to vocalize to myself and to my family what my needs are too. And my critical voice is much less doubt-filled now. It’s not gone, and likely won’t ever be, but it is quieter and the tone has changed. My self trust is being rebuilt one tiny action, one small boundary, and one intentional effort at a time.
And this is a tangent but I can’t wrap this up without saying this. Can you imagine how much different and more beautiful this world would be if we could all genuinely say we trust ourselves?! Just imagine the way we would show up and receive other people?! That. That is what I want.
With so much love and gratitude,