Looking for ways to trust yourself more? Taking time to get to know yourself and your needs is a good start. Self-compassion and quality alone time can help you achieve this.
Many experiences can cause you to lose trust in yourself — or stop you from building this trust in the first place.
If you have low self-trust you might second-guess yourself constantly. You may worry so much about making the wrong decision that you can’t make decisions at all. You might rely on others’ opinions instead of your own.
To start building trust with yourself, consider exploring your values, boundaries, and skills to remind yourself of what’s important to you. Reconnecting with yourself can also involve listening to your own needs, making time for self-care, and practicing being kind to yourself.
By strengthening your connection with yourself, you may also gain renewed confidence and self-esteem. It may not be an easy process, but the more you practice trusting yourself the more naturally it’ll come to you.
Many people have difficulty trusting their instincts due to traumatic or difficult experiences that made them lose trust in themselves.
For example, if you grew up with a parent who used gaslighting (a form of manipulation where the person makes you doubt your reality), you may feel that you cannot trust your own opinions or views. You might therefore have a constant need to second-guess yourself.
These experiences make it difficult to build self-trust, so it helps to start small.
When you’re in a situation where you feel indecisive, consider asking yourself, “is this what I really want?” If you repeat this question often, you may find your inner voice or inner knowing becoming clearer as you learn to attune yourself to your wants, needs, and desires.
Learning to tend to your wants and needs can look like choosing where to eat for dinner, or deciding on which movie to watch. Over time, you may find you have stronger self-advocacy (the ability to stand up for your needs and what’s important to you).
When you are better able to connect with yourself, it becomes easier to build personal boundaries. This includes learning how to say “no” even when others want you to say something different. Personal boundaries help you distance yourself from harmful actions or relationships.
Sometimes, a mistrust of yourself can come from a lack of self-compassion.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in self-compassion, says that many of us are more compassionate with others than we are with ourselves.
According to a 2022 review by Neff, one element of self-compassion is shared humanity — the understanding that our mistakes and imperfections are part of the shared human experience. In other words, every human is imperfect, just like you, and that’s okay.
The next time you make a mistake, try and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. This situation does not define you as a person. Speaking kindly to yourself will make it more likely that you can learn from your mistakes, instead of shutting down from them. This is a great way to build self-trust.
If you’re interested in learning more, Neff’s self-compassion website offers information, research, and free guided exercises to help you get started.
Setting — and achieving — personal goals is a great way to improve the level of trust you have in yourself.
Although it’s wonderful to reach for the proverbial stars in the long term, it can help to also set some reasonable goals that you can achieve in a shorter time. If you only aim high you may become frustrated with yourself when you take a long time to reach them. This could impact your self-trust.
Experts recommend setting
For example, if you want to exercise more, then the goal of “becoming stronger than everyone else” is likely to leave you feeling disillusioned. Changing this into a more achievable SMART goal might look like strength training twice per week for 30 minutes each day.
It’s OK to create a goal smaller than you think you need for success so that you can develop momentum. Once you’ve reached your first goal, create another achievable goal. As you reach each goal, your self-trust will improve.
Many people are afraid to be alone. It can bring up feelings of discomfort or loneliness.
While loneliness may harm your mental health, there are benefits to spending some quality time in solitude. Alone time can help you work out your own needs and preferences. It gives you time to make decisions that feel right to you without being influenced by anyone else.
Again, you might want to start small. Consider choosing a time this week to spend alone. You might pick an activity you enjoy, like going for a nature walk, visiting a new place, or working on a hobby. Activities that distract or dissociate you, such as scrolling on social media, might be less helpful.
While spending time alone be mindful of what shows up emotionally. Remember that it’s OK to step away if you become emotionally dysregulated. Alone time can be activating for people with a trauma history. For some, it’s better to first seek mental health treatment to deal with distressing thoughts that surface during times of solitude.
Self-efficacy is a psychological concept meaning your belief in your ability to perform tasks and achieve your goals.
When you lose trust in yourself, you also lose some sense of self-efficacy. You lose confidence that you can cope or care for yourself.
Building mastery over a specific skill can help you regain your self-esteem and trust in your ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was initially created to help women with suicidal thoughts. DBT teaches “build mastery” as an essential skill to help people build their sense of competence and self-efficacy.
To get started, choose a skill that you want to master, such as a dance technique or a new language. Commit to learning and practicing this skill until you feel confident in your ability to perform it.
It might be helpful to set small SMART goals as you work toward skill mastery. For example, you could set a goal to practice twice a week, or twice a month. As you watch your skills improve you can deepen your trust in yourself and your abilities.
Self-trust is an essential life skill that helps you have self-esteem and a sense of competence. However, many people lack this self-trust — whether a life experience made them lose it or they never had the opportunity to build it in the first place.
While you’re reconnecting with yourself, learning new skills, or spending time in solitude, it helps to keep up a regular self-compassion practice to support you in your journey toward deeper self-trust.
Seeking support from a mental health therapist may also help you regain self-trust. Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource may help.