Here’s Who You Should Trust the Most — and I Bet It’s Not Who You Might Think!
“Well, it could be chickenpox. Or maybe measles. Or smallpox perhaps.”
How much would you trust a doctor who examined a rash and said that?
You’d be hightailing it from their office for a second opinion, right?
And yet this is exactly how we often speak to ourselves.
I want to talk about trust, particularly self-trust.
A doctor who lacks trust in his diagnoses is not going to inspire trust in his patients. No one will seek his examinations, and his self-trust will drop even further. Without a doubt, he’ll also feel his confidence ebb, and end up questioning why he became a doctor in the first place.
The Old Stories
Have you ever met someone who struggles in relationships? When you talk to them, they tell you a previous partner cheated on them, and that they now know “men can’t be trusted.” I’ve had this exact conversation with more than one female friend. When you dive deeper, however, you find they’ve only been cheated on once — and that was decades ago. Yet every partner they have had since then “cannot be trusted”.
We develop stories about who we can trust, based on past experiences. If the experience has never been processed, we start to apply it to current circumstances. Thus, one specific partner who was untrustworthy clouds our judgement of all men we meet.
Let’s think about how this is similar in the relationship that we have with ourselves. When did you last commit to something and then not carry it out? Maybe it was something small like a workout, or something big like the launch of a programme in your business.
Every time you break a commitment, you’re telling yourself: I cannot be trusted.
When you consistently reinforce that you break promises, you erode trust in yourself.
If I had a friend who cancelled on me as often as I used to on myself, they’d have been ‘friend-fired’ in a second!
Behavioural integrity (doing what you say you will) is vital for building self-trust.
Why Do I Need Self-Trust?
Self-esteem and self-trust are linked, and it seems we cannot be confident if we don’t trust ourselves. Confidence is a core part of everything we do — relationships, work, parenting, and more.
Research tells us core self-trust is essential to our mental health and wellbeing. The paper shared that we cannot act “autonomously,” when our self-trust is lacking. Think about the times your confidence and trust in yourself has been at its lowest. Weren’t those the times you struggled to make choices, let others take decisions, or procrastinated?
If you don’t trust yourself to make decisions, you’re always going to be looking to somebody else. That’s where the dangers of codependency come in, where relationships get ruined, and where lean heavily on those around us. I can tell you from personal experience that this isn’t a healthy or happy place.
So what if that research doesn’t make you think you need more self-trust? What about if increased self-trust would enable you to help others more? A group of Russian scientists looked at a group of volunteers. They found the higher their self-trust, the more likely they were to behave altruistically.
Those with lower self-trust also volunteered, but their motives were not altruistic. They volunteered in order to get benefits for themselves, like praise. Of course, if we don’t trust ourselves, our self-esteem will be at a low ebb, and we’ll be looking for external validation.
In 1978, Brigham Young research found that the more you trust yourself, the more you will trust others. What I mentioned earlier about how we believe “men can’t be trusted” based on past experience works both ways. The original cheat now looks at his partners, knowing what he did, and sees them as also potential cheats.
He figures that since he has broken promises, his partners will do likewise. The more that energy is present in the relationship, the more his partners will do what he expects or walk away.
In that cheating relationship, neither partner is left capable of forming a solid partnership. Neither of them now trusts others.
Research indicates those with high self-trust are less worried about having their trust broken. They know if someone breaks their trust, they will get over it because their self-trust and confidence are high. Overall, this lack of fear, means that we are more likely to trust others if we have self-trust.
Self-trust is vital to our emotional health. We cannot simply keep trying to get by in life without it, or without trying to increase it. I hope this blog helps you see how past stories are playing out in your life today — and that they need to be eliminated in order to get whatever you want in life.