Most successful and beneficial relationships include an element of trust. Expecting loyalty, reliability and trustworthiness you assume that the other person will do what they say, that their word can be relied upon and that promises, commitments and agreements will be kept. When trust is broken it leads to disappointment, suspicion and damaged relationships that are hard to repair.

As it relates to the interactions you have with other people, this kind of trust has an external focus. But there is an even more important kind - the trust you have in yourself.

Trusting your own processes, perceptions and inner signals you move confidently with the flow of life and march to the beat of your own heart. You make your own decisions even if a positive outcome is not guaranteed because you prefer living with your own failures and mistakes rather than living with those of others.

At the core of trust in yourself is the conviction that you are appropriate to life and will be able to handle its challenges. You do not hand your decision making over to others or give in to helplessness, dependency, compliance and apathy. Instead you stand strong in your right to be your own person and steer your own path through life with discernment, integrity and authenticity. To practise self-trust you need to cultivate its essential components:

Accept yourself.
You know who you are and are okay with your sunny side as well as your less fabulous qualities. Not shaken or deterred by other people’s negativity you are confident in your own skin knowing you can make your own way in the world. It may be different to others and not always perfect or according to plan, but you navigate difficulties with courage and determination.

Take responsibility for yourself.
You take responsibility for yourself, your happiness, success and wellbeing. Of course, your fortunes will also be influenced by external factors, but even in difficult circumstances you accept that it is you who determines the response. You make sure that your thinking is grounded in reality and that your emotions don’t lead you astray. You ponder options, consult your intuition, and trust your ability to learn and adapt. You are not bound by attachments to past events, ideas or people that undermine your self-determination.

Rely on yourself.
When needed, assistance and support from others are of course welcome, but you do not wait for someone to rescue you or make things better. You are at home in yourself, centred and secure in your boundaries. Honouring your ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs and actions you honour your authenticity. Even if it seems - or you are told - that you haven’t got what it takes, are not good enough, lacking means or skills, you make up your own mind. You adapt when conditions have changed, often venturing beyond your comfort zone and if your endeavours do not succeed at first, you do not regress into dependency and helplessness.

Make your own decisions.
This is a key factor in trusting yourself. If you do not make your own choices, someone else will do it for you. There is no guarantee that your decisions will bring about the desired results. You are - and have the right to claim it - the true authority in your life and letting others decide on your behalf may set you on a path not right for you. Handing the steering wheel over to someone else is not compatible with your own integrity, maturity and independence. Outsourcing decisions and choices keeps you in a child-like state and opens the door to manipulation and abuse.

There are many different approaches to decision-making. A very effective and straightforward method is “10-10-10” by Suzie Welch.

Remember your strength.
Following a betrayal or hurt, people often say they will never trust another person again. This would require living behind internal barricades, hyper-vigilant and ready to ward off wrongdoing and harm. This is a very lonely and rigid way to live.

But the real issue is not about the other person and they can be trusted. The key challenge is to trust yourself that betrayals, disappointments and adversity will not break you. When you know your ability to handle life as it comes despite what other people do or don’t do, obstacles or hiccups you don’t need to hide behind walls always on the lookout for ‘danger’.

Instead you are able to live with faith, hope and a positive outlook. There is no space for living as a victim or following unquestioningly what others tell you to do, think or feel. Trusting your own competence and worth, you know that you can only ever do the best you can with what you have got or know at that time. It may not be perfect but each challenge or hardship contains treasures for learning and becoming stronger. Remind yourself not to give your power away but claim your right to be the authority in your own life!

If you find it hard to trust yourself and your choices, how is that affecting your life? What do you need to develop or enhance in order to trust yourself more? How would your life be different if you had greater trust in yourself?

Originally posted on PsychCentral 9 January 2018

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Author's Bio: 

Christiana Star (BA Hons Psychology, BA Hons Education) is a registered psychologist and writer with strong focus on self-help, empowerment and personal transformation. Combining professional expertise with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. Christiana specialises in presenting complex psychological issues in an easily accessible way. Her work is solution-focused, multidisciplinary and offers practical resources for everyone who wants to achieve personal transformation and success on their own terms.