The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

The Importance of Self-Trust

Posted by Karen on November 26, 2009

Consider this a follow-up to the “Spaciousness or Just Drifting” post 

#8 of that post said this: Ask Yourself – You Know the Truth Without This List Anyway: We have a deep knowing as human beings if we are doing something for the “right” or the “wrong” reasons – we just keep ourselves from knowing that truth by keeping ourselves busy and on the surface of our minds. If you have the courage to look inside deeply, you’ll know if you’re creating spaciousness or if you’re merely using the idea to keep you stuck.

What if  you really don’t know – like #8 suggests you really should – when you look inside yourself …because you don’t know if you know anything “true” about yourself anymore?

One of my readers emailed me that question. She pointed out that once you get into this career exploration thing – letting go with who you thought you were and what you thought you wanted and in the vacuum-like state of trying to discover what you DO want – you can often feel more lost and confused than you have in your entire life.

When you’re in that state, not only do you doubt yourself, you tend to also doubt yourself self-doubt and then second guess your second guess doubting. Head spins ensue. Lying on the floor in the fetal position begins to look like an appealing life choice.

My reader is right – and good to remind me – that the great unknown of searching for your passion can make you feel much more vulnerable when being told you should “know” whether or not something is true for you.

And that’s where Self-Trust comes in.

Self-Trust is the unsung, oft-missed and yet vital element of a transformative career search. What I’ve come to learn…though it’s really rather obvious when you think about it logically…is that if you don’t trust yourself, no matter what possibilities open themselves to you, you won’t take them – or often won’t even see them – because you don’t trust yourself enough to make the right choice.

I find this often happens particularly later in someone’s career, when they’ve been around the proverbial block enough times to have been “burned” by their decisions (even if they couldn’t have foreseen the consequences of the decision, such as a workplace environment going toxically sour). Even if there was no way of knowing the outcome, they begin to question and doubt their choices. They get stuck. “I don’t want to choose that direction if it’s only going to end up the same way”. There’s no way out of that one with certainty. No one knows how it will end up.

Or, another version of the Self-Trust shake up: losing one’s certainty of life purpose that comes from knowing what you do. That can seriously mess you up. I knew a guy who loved his marketing job so much he’d named his cats Trix and Snap after the brands he worked on. But when he didn’t love the job anymore he got severely depressed…who was he if not a marketing guy? Trust goes out the window because you begin to wonder “Did I know myself at all? And if I don’t know myself, how do I know if my new ideas are the right ones?”

So we could actually say that self-doubt is an integral part of career exploration. And Self needs Trust in order to move forward.

When we step away from our moorings of an old job, we do so because it’s either too painful or boring or meaningless or unconnected with rising new internal values to stay. If we leave the known without knowing the what the future holds, and the fully formed “future” doesn’t immediately appear, it’s very easy to doubt yourself.

Self-trust is the part of you that trusts you – the inner Self of you, the real You, whatever you want to call it – implicitly to take care of yourself and your needs, to find your way, to make decisions and necessary changes to adjust to current realities, to meet your needs. Self-Trust plays a vital part of the process of finding your way to something new. Learning new levels of personal self-trust is one of the key foundations to a positive career transition.

Ironically it’s the hardest thing to practice in the middle of the unknown.

So I can understand why #8 is challenging. It assumes that you are in enough connection with yourself to listen deeply and trust the answer that you hear. It assumes you’ve been practicing self-trust, yet self-trust may not even yet be something that you’ve distinguished as necessary or even defined as a need.

And you will need it. Ultimately, after all the research and all the analyzing and all the information interviewing and career coaching is done, you will have to trust YOU to make the right decision. And to trust yourself that you can handle it if it’s not the right decision. Self-Trust is the necessary quality for moving confidently forward in your career.

So next post we’ll begin by defining Self-Trust, and giving you some questions to work with that will help you start to identify where it might currently exist in your life  (or not).


One Response to “The Importance of Self-Trust”

  1. […] 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 […]

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