The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

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How Do I Trust Myself? Let Me Count the Ways

Posted by Karen on February 16, 2010

Last November I wrote a post on the importance of self trust (which begs the question: where does the time go?).

I had some interesting responses to that post, with some follow up questions along the lines of “How do I trust myself if I don’t trust myself”? Good question.

Trust is this really quirky little quality that requires you to do something before you get something back… i.e. to trust before knowing if the other person or the path is trustworthy – and if you can trust yourself to handle what happens if you choose to go forward. Moving forward safely takes courage and practice. It takes a high degree of relatedness with your “inner knowing signals” – that is with your body’s feelings when you are grounded in your decision at all levels.

It is something you can get related to by observing and practicing everyday. Start by learning to trust yourself on the smallest decisions, such as what to focus on in your day or what you eat for lunch. By feeling the small wins when you know you chose the right thing for you, you will become more familiar with your process to know when you’re ready to make a decision and if it’s the right one.

And I certainly didn’t learn to trust myself all by myself. I had some excellent coaches and friends who listened deeply to me when I was trying to decide something (big or small) and reflected what they heard both in the content of what I was trying to decide and also an “emotional” read of where I was: when I sounded scattered, anxious and frightened versus when I sounded grounded, coherent and calm (sometimes all in the same phone call!). Having a “mirror” to my inner state helped me to hear myself in new ways and to begin to recognize when my decisions became settled and certain.

So how do you know that you are “self-trusting”? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you “tune in” to where you are in the process:

1. Do I trust myself to handle what might come up in a new career path? Such as new information…unexpected detours…or fearful feelings about starting something new?

2. Do I trust myself to gently pull myself back if I go too far beyond my comfort zone? Do I know what it feels like to be “comfortably” outside my comfort zone?

3. Do I trust myself to recognize the signs when something is “off” or wrong for me at this time? Can I name the feeling in my body when this occurs?

4. Do I trust myself to get out of what is not right for me once I recognize it? Do I know my blind spots around letting go of something that isn’t working?

5. Do I trust my decision-making process? Do I give myself time to process emotions as well as thoughts? Do I recognize when “information” comes with an emotional undercurrent that needs to be understood and processed? Do I give myself the time and space to visualize myself fulfilling on the decision and experiencing the resulting feelings to see if I’m in tune with my decisions?

6. Do I recognize the feeling in my body when something is “right” for me? Can I identify other times I’ve known that in my life and regularly recreated that feeling for myself so it’s familiar?

7. Can I let things unfold organically or do I often try to force outcomes?

8. Can I trust myself to listen to another point of view with an open mind, knowing that I will make the final decision that is right for me?

9. Do I find smaller and less “high stakes” times to trust myself first before tackling bigger life choices like my career?

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3 Responses to “How Do I Trust Myself? Let Me Count the Ways”

  1. Caryn said

    This is a great post, Karen. The questions are so perfect. I just wrote a post about a related topic: fear and how to move past it. Related to #1-4 above, I also recommended that you consider whether or not you are prepared to handle the “worst case scenario”. In other words, if you take a risk, and it doesn’t pan out, would you be willing to accept the worst thing that could happen. If so, the risk might seem less risky. Often the worst case scenario isn’t as bad as you think, once you really give yourself time to consider it. Again, great post.

  2. Rida said

    First, I would like to thank you for your post, it’s really interesting. The quetions at the end are very amazing. But I’m still wondering how can I pratice such things in my life?

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