“If you’re going to trust one person, let it be yourself.”
These golden words by Robert Tew are worth living by if you want to create the life of your dreams and achieve your highest potential.
Yet many people lack self-trust and constantly beat themselves up for not doing “enough.”
In this article, I’m going to show you how to trust yourself, build trust in the workplace, and even shed some light on your relationships.
To help me, I invited Melody Wilding, the author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Check out our video interview here:
She taught me about being a sensitive striver.
What is a Sensitive Striver?
A sensitive striver is someone who is both highly sensitive and high-achieving. They are driven, career-oriented, and put a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed. They also think and feel everything more deeply.
According to a study by Stony Brook University:
20% of the population may genetically be sensitive strivers.
To help you find out if you’re a sensitive striver, I’m going to tell you 10 statements. Do they resonate with you?
- I experience emotions at a high level of depth and complexity.
- I have a strong desire to exceed expectations in every aspect of my life, even the ones that don’t matter.
- I consider myself to be driven and enjoy pushing myself to achieve goals.
- I’m obsessed with goals.
- I’m addicted to goals.
- Goals are a hobby.
- I crave meaning and fulfillment all the time.
- I need to think through decisions before I act.
- I have an inner critic that never takes a day off.
- I’m kind, compassionate, and empathetic toward others.
Sensitive strivers also have a different set of needs than others:
Being a sensitive striver can be a superpower! Sensitive strivers:
- have heightened vigilance. They can often spot patterns or issues in the workplace and prevent costly and expensive problems.
- are creative. They see opportunities and can take advantage of them.
- can see the problem. Sensitive strivers are great at making pros-and-cons lists and can think through issues step by step. They often don’t jump straight in but think before leaping.
If you’re a sensitive striver, then you’re in the right place. Here’s how to build your self-trust:
Heart-to-Heart: Why Don’t I Trust Myself?
A few years ago, I used to wonder about my worrisome nature. After rigorous self-reflection (and a million moments of misery and self-pity), I realized that it can be difficult to avoid inheriting negative baggage when you’re surrounded by other people’s opinions and demands.
Now, what does self-trust look like?
People who trust themselves stay true to their values and beliefs, regardless of their situation. They know they are capable of overcoming obstacles and surviving difficulties. When life throws lemons at them, they refuse to give up and lose hope.
Science says that self-trust paves the way for personal autonomy and self-respect.
- being aware of your thoughts and emotions
- having the courage to stick to your core values and say bye to peer pressure
- expressing yourself honestly (this means saying NO to things you don’t want to do)
- knowing when to prioritize your well-being over everything else
- being confident that when life throws you lemons, you can hit them out of the park
- pursuing your dreams without letting others get in your way
On the flip side, here’s what it looks like if you don’t trust yourself:
- you hesitate to prioritize your needs and safety
- you struggle to treat yourself with unconditional love and compassion
- you’re always listening to the naggy, criticizing voice in your head
Where does self-doubt start?
We aren’t all born doubters. In fact, a lot of us are confident in our abilities… until life throws us under the bus (ouch!). Here are a few examples of how we lose our self-trust:
- If you grew up knowing your parents would swoop in every time you needed help or faced a problem, you may find it difficult to handle responsibilities and trust your abilities as an adult.
- If you belonged to a middle-class family and your house was haunted by a victim mentality, with your parents always telling you how success belongs to the well-off, you may not have the courage to dream big and achieve great things in life.
- If you were constantly punished for speaking up and expressing your feelings and needs as a child, you might be carrying that fear, guilt, and shame in your adult life.
If you can relate, it’s time to take the reins of your life back in your hands and learn how to trust yourself.
How to Trust Yourself Again: 13 Simple yet Powerful Things You Need to Do
All of us have dreams, goals, and desires in life, but not everybody is successful at achieving them.
The tricky part is…
You must connect the dots between what you want and how to get there.
You need to nurture a can-do attitude, stick to your principles, and show up for yourself.
Oh, and don’t worry about what others think.
People will learn to trust and appreciate you when they see how capable and confident you are.
Self-trust is the key to achieving your goals and living a life full of passion, purpose, and happiness.
So get ready to indulge in a world where there’s no room for self-doubt and insecurities!
The Honor Roll Hangover
Were you that kid in school who never settled for less than an A?
As an adult, you might suffer from something called the “honor roll hangover.” It’s composed of 3 parts:
- Perfectionism: being highly self-critical, having high standards for yourself, thinking that nothing you do is ever good enough
- People-pleasing: saying yes too often and having trouble saying no. You may change your opinions if somebody else disagrees with them or there’s conflict.
- Over-functioning: taking on more responsibility than is actually yours, such as fixing other people’s problems or trying to control someone’s reaction to your email
You’ll lose your self-trust faster than a magician can vanish a rabbit because it’s a never-ending goal:
- there are never enough things you can do to make something “better”
- there are never enough people you can please
- there are never enough responsibilities you can take on
Being aware of these three steps is already incredibly freeing. Next, let’s work on banishing them. Luckily, I’ve got the resources to help you in a pinch. Learn to:
- manage your perfectionism
- stop being a people pleaser forever!
- set goals that you can achieve
Avoid Opportunity FOMO
Do you have that feeling of not wanting to say no to something because it could be your big break?
Perhaps you think saying no to your manager might lead to not getting that promotion.
This is called “opportunity FOMO,” and it’s totally real.
Opportunity FOMO can be a kick in the shin, especially since it leads us to overextend ourselves.
One thing Melody does to combat this is always ask herself, “Would I want to be doing this thing if I had to do it tomorrow?”
- “Would I want to stay overtime tomorrow?” Nope.
- “Would I want to babysit my cousin’s nieces while she has fun tomorrow?” Nope.
- “Would I want to attend a really lame speaking event tomorrow?” Nope!
Asking yourself these critical questions helps narrow down your frame to what you REALLY want to do.
The Board of Directors Exercise
Your intuition is like a muscle.
And for many people who lack self-trust, your intuition has been neglected for so long.
But the thing is, your intuition isn’t just one thing in your head; it’s made up of many different voices:
- the critical one that’s always putting down your efforts
- the stubborn one that won’t let that opportunity go
- the hesitant one that’s afraid of taking on a challenge
So to get your intuition back and find the right voice to listen to, I want you to listen to your own inner board of directors. And when one voice wants to take over the spotlight, you’ll be able to easily think, “OK, that’s my critical inner director talking!”
Learn to accept your inner board of directors and identify them, and you’ll learn to trust your intuition instead of pushing your voices away.
The 10-10-10 Rule
Whenever you find yourself overthinking a certain situation—or on the flip side, feeling like you’re afraid to take a risk—ask yourself if it will even matter
- 10 weeks,
- 10 months, or
- 10 years from now.
When you recognize that the nasty blog comment or presentation mistake you made won’t matter in that time frame, you’ll come to realize this is just another form of overthinking.
Pro Tip: Do you have someone in your life who means well but is dismissive? Teach them these rules so they can ask them to you. This is such a great tool for them to help you without making you feel dismissed.
Ditch Busy for Self-Connection
I know you don’t have a lot of spare time up your sleeves on most days. I understand you have a trillion things on your plate.
But can you pause and take a breath for a while?
Trust me (pun intended).
Let’s take a look at how exactly we use our time and how busy we REALLY are. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 American Time Use Survey, the top 3 uses of our time are sleep/personal care, leisure, and work:
Furthermore, only 48% of Americans say they have enough time in their day, according to a Gallup poll.
Every day, we feel like robots running around trying to check off as many tasks on our to-do lists as possible.
Like it or not, we’ve gotten out of tune with our hearts and minds.
If you really want to know how to trust yourself, you need to take a break from the hustle and discover your inner purpose, knowing, and joy.
Action Steps: Here’s how you can slow your mind down and reconnect with your inner self in 10 minutes. Yes, you read that right. All it takes is 10 minutes of your day!
Every morning when you wake up, find a nice cozy corner and sit there for a while. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and allow your mind and soul to be engulfed by the stillness that surrounds you at that moment.
Listen to the silence. Feel the rhythm of your heart. Dig deep into the truth of who you are.
Watch this video and try the five super easy yoga postures for inner peace, or take a deep dive into our ultimate guide on meditation.
Write Letters of Appreciation
Remember how Ross from the classic TV show Friends made a pros-and-cons list when he had to pick between Rachel and Julie?
You need to do the same for yourself—without the cons.
According to a study of 275,000 people, being positive leads to an overall happier and better life. So ignore the cons for now and just stay positive!
Action Steps: Make a list of things you like about yourself. Go crazy, and don’t set your bar too high:
- “I like my hair.”
- “I like my singing voice.”
- “I’m happy I’ve got a bed to sleep in.”
Shake off any thought that reminds you of any of your weaknesses, flaws, or failures.
It’s time to focus on all the positive qualities you have and nothing else!
Next time you feel down or find yourself doubting your capabilities, read the items on this list aloud. Treasure your greatness because you truly are an amazing person!
Use the TRUST Model
Do you have a hard time being honest with yourself?
If you tend to ignore important information and find it easier to lie to yourself, I’m afraid you’re at the lowest level of self-trust.
This is where the TRUST model comes in.
It works wonders in building self-trust and self-confidence. It helps boost your self-esteem and improve your communication skills, prepping you to face the world with your chin up.
So how do you take advantage of the TRUST model?
Here is what the TRUST model stands for and how you can put it into practice.
Transparency. This step is all about being open. No more pretending to be someone else. No more shying away from your true self. No more hiding.
- Start by explaining the “why” behind the “what.” In other words, find out WHO you’re portraying yourself as and WHY you want to be portrayed that way. If you’re a teacher forcing yourself to act happily, why? Is it because you want to bring happiness to the kids, or is it because your job relies on it?
- Share information instead of withholding it. This one can be tough if you tend to bottle things up. However, a Harvard study found that bottling your emotions can lead to a 30% increased chance of premature death. Yikes!
- Focus on eliminating fears instead of nurturing them. Let me get this straight: You won’t be able to get rid of them completely, but you MUST challenge your fears to conquer them. This means jumping out of an airplane. Or learning to swim. Or going on stage and talking to an audience even if your legs are shaking. Build up that confidence and your fears will seem smaller over time.
Respect. No more bad-mouthing yourself or thinking you’re not good enough.
- Nurture positive thoughts in your mind. We already talked about this before—stick to the positive thoughts! I find it helps to review my positive thinking every time I wake up and before I go to bed.
- Stamp out cynicism. Do you have a cynical mind? I want you to see the world as a better place. Perhaps you’re hanging around too many toxic friends—but the sooner you can step out of your “bubble” of toxicity, the better your world and trust will be.
- Avoid using hurtful language and actions. Avoid cursing (studies show swearing leaves a negative impression—even on trustworthiness!), and try doing positive actions that cultivate respect, such as regular exercise and eating healthy.
Understand. This part’s all about being more objective and knowing yourself.
- Don’t strike the gavel. If you’re argumentative or low on the personality trait agreeableness, then you might have a hot temper. Do NOT assume—always strive to seek the truth, or you won’t be able to trust your emotional management.
- Understand thyself. Go deep into who you really are. Who is “[insert your name here]”? What does he/she like and do, and where is his/her place in this world?
Shared Success. Don’t go at it alone. Self-trust comes with strong social support.
- Collab to the max! Find ways to co-create and collaborate with other people, such as hobby groups. It doesn’t have to be only from work—although if there are toxic people at your job, you should probably do something about it.
- Create win-wins. Don’t be that one person who always tries to one-up others. Create win-win situations by praising others for their efforts and sharing success.
Test Assumptions. Question your own reality and your assumptions. Don’t be stuck in a “bubble.”
- Avoid making things up. Are you a pathological liar? If you lie to others—or even worse, to yourself—take the reins and start telling the truth. Read this guide to spot the telltale lying signs: How to Tell if Someone is Lying.
- Bridge the gap between assumptions and reality. Watch every thought you have and ask, “Why am I having this thought?”
Set SMART Goals
What’s the difference between “ambitious” and “too ambitious”?
It could be the difference between trusting yourself and not.
- Instead of aiming to make $200,000 a year, try aiming for $75,000 first.
- Instead of trying to complete a project in two days, give yourself a week.
I typically tell others to aim their highest. However, sometimes you’ve got to aim more realistically first.
Aiming low with your goals has several benefits—if you perform better than what you had in mind, you’ll experience a sense of achievement and be motivated to work harder.
On the other hand, when you don’t reach your big goals, you feel like a failure. This ultimately takes a hit on your confidence and self-trust.
Action Steps: If you have a big goal in mind, consider breaking it down into milestones. You’ll gain confidence and learn to trust yourself as you accomplish the smaller goals along the way.
The best way to go about this is by setting SMART goals:
Want to really up your goal-setting game? Opt in to our amazing goal-setting webinar here!
Say it Like a Boss
Imagine your coworker is late on their project and you need it ASAP. What would you likely say?
- “Um, excuse me, but are you finished yet?”
- “Hey, let me know when you can get this to me ASAP.”
The way you talk to others determines the respect you receive. Try replacing your unconfident phrases with powerful ones:
Ask yourself: “Where can I use more constructive language? Where can I stand up for myself?”
And do it!
Fight the Fear of Vulnerability
Vulnerability is NOT a sign of weakness. It’s something only the most courageous people embrace.
If self-trust is a trunk full of opportunities, vulnerability is the key to it.
There’s something so endearing and empowering about letting your guard down and showing the world the real YOU.
As Brené Brown says…
“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”– Brené Brown
In her Ted Talk, the psychologist and researcher talks about reframing vulnerability. She encourages you to be vulnerable so that others can let their guards down too. As a result, you can foster real, deep connections, which is important for you to feel confident.
Action Steps: Whenever you feel insecure, overwhelmed, and overly conscious, remind yourself that it’s okay to be YOU. There’s nothing wrong with letting people see who you really are.
I understand that being vulnerable can be scary, but it’s way better than being a sham. Take one step at a time and risk it. Eventually, you’ll learn how to trust yourself as your feelings of insecurity fade away.
Picture Your Version of Success
Everybody has their own definition of success. What’s yours?
If you’ve never thought about it, it’s time to use the power of visualization!
Visualization helped Jim Carrey and Oprah Winfrey become successful and reach where they are today.
When your heart and mind know what success really means to you, everything else will fall into place and the path forward will illuminate itself.
Action Steps: Sit in a comfortable spot with no distractions. Close your eyes and imagine a life full of success and achievements. Try to go into as much detail as possible.
Think about this while creating a “vision board” in your mind:
- What’s the number in your bank account?
- What does your empowered self look like?
- What’s the expression on your face?
- Where do you live?
- Who do you see yourself with? Family members, a partner, or friends?
When thinking about your success, try to be as specific as possible so your intuition can guide you in the right direction.
After you’ve envisioned yourself, write everything down. List out all the details imaginable so you have a reminder you can always look back on when your confidence veers off track.
Give Yourself Permission Slips
If you don’t know how to trust yourself to make a big decision, consider taking baby steps. Start by allowing yourself to do something you want to do every day.
Each time you listen to yourself, you prioritize your own needs over others’.
Which is EXACTLY what you want when you’ve got a case of low-trust-itus.
- Make a list of things that make you feel good about yourself. They can be anything from taking a hot shower or going out in nature to devouring your favorite enchiladas or listening to that kickin’ CD you got last Christmas.
- Develop a self-care routine and follow it religiously. Start by waking up early in the morning, doing some exercise, and enjoying a healthy breakfast (I recommend green smoothies!).
- Meditate every day, even if it’s for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Walk away from people with toxic vibes who drain your energy. Identify the dream killers and learn to say no to them.
- Write down your blessings in a journal before going to bed.
- Spend quality time with those who care about you, including your good friends.
- Walk through past trauma to get closure, be it alone or with a therapist. You can also try the exercises in Peter Levine’s book Healing Trauma.
How to Build Trust in the Workplace
Did you know that Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco Partners, runs a company with almost no rules?
- He lets people take days off from work.
- He lets people decide what salary they make (really).
- He lets them decide who leads the team by vote.
That’s because Semler trusts his employees and fosters a positive workplace culture that allows people to feel at ease.
Building trust in a workplace helps improve the team’s morale, productivity, and satisfaction levels.
Is it easy? No. But is it critical? I say yes!
Here’s how to build trust in the workplace:
Be a Cheerleader
Everyone deserves to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts, even when they’re getting paid for it. You can inspire an employee who does good work to perform better with the right amount of support.
Let your team know that you’ve got their back and there’s no problem you won’t solve with them.
I often do this by sending thank-you emails to the wonderful people I work with:
- “Thank you SO much for the great research study, Rob!”
- “Fab idea, Bekah! Everyone loved your social post idea.”
- “Great job on the video suggestion, Flor!”
But here’s the catch…
Be honest. Because everyone can sniff out a fake work partner a mile away. Try to nail down these action steps:
- Skip the boring meeting intros. Host an icebreaker session and allow your team members to mingle and connect.
- Dig into their past. Find out what they loved and hated at their previous jobs, but don’t be too snoopy about it if you haven’t built up enough rapport yet.
- Send weekly thank-yous. Just like a gratitude journal, end each week by appreciating your team’s actions. Check out our email tips to craft the perfect email.
- Donut deliveries! Appreciate your team with sprinkled donuts from your local shop.
- Never talk about an employee behind their back. Avoid gossiping at all costs!
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Nobody trusts a person who doesn’t keep their word. To build trust in your workplace, make sure you make promises that you’re absolutely sure you can keep.
Research says that good managers can help decrease employee turnover rates by keeping their promises, among other things.
This includes promising early delivery dates, high production quality, and high sales—when you KNOW you can achieve them.
- Dive into the bush. Be clear and don’t leave doubt on the table. This is especially true if you’re working in a remote team, where communication is critical.
- Underpromise and overdeliver. As cliché as it sounds, this tip works great if you’re always an overachiever or your success relies on your entire team.
- Team rendezvous. Talk with your team and understand their limitations. Work with their time constraints instead of fighting against them.
Say No to Micromanaging
Have you ever felt your motivation going down the drain because of your boss micromanaging your decisions?
To build trust in the workplace, you need to get rid of micromanaging practices.
Research shows that micromanagement is a costly and ineffective management style that causes managers to burn out.
Managers don’t like it. Employees don’t like it. And company culture definitely suffers from it.
Clearly, micromanagement benefits no one, so give trust to your teammates to gain an upper hand in the workplace.
How to Trust Yourself in a Relationship
Do you see relationships as minefields?
I don’t blame you, especially if you’ve been burned before.
However, you need to be able to bet on yourself before you gamble on someone else. Without trust, there’s no room for love or respect in a relationship.
Here’s how to build self-trust in a relationship.
Communication is The Adhesive
Relationships are fragile like a mirror, especially during the first few months.
I want you to think of communication as the solution. It’s the adhesive that keeps your relationship intact, so get used to talking—especially if you’re not a serial talker.
Check out our ultimate guide on communication: Effective Communication: What It Is and How to Develop Your Skills.
A relationship that lacks vulnerability is like a coconut: strong on the outside, weak on the inside.
To trust yourself in a relationship, you need to let your guard down and allow your partner to get to know the real YOU—not the “you” at work, not the “you” in front of your friends, the real you when you’re all by yourself.
Staying locked up in your shell will only push your partner away.
Here’s how to open up:
- Share your secrets. Pick one secret to share with your partner tonight. It could be something embarrassing from your childhood or something you’re not proud of.
- Tell your fears. Just like Harry Potter’s “boggart” scene, we’ve got to face our fears… and turn them into happiness. Let your partner in on your fears without being overwhelmed by them.
- Speak their love language. What’s your partner’s love language? Are they the touchy type? Do they like to perform acts of service? Find out their language and show them their ideal way to love.
Respect Times 3
Respecting yourself and your partner is of the utmost importance if you want these 3 things:
- to get along with someone who has slightly different values than your own
- to avoid arguing and contemptuous feelings (which can lead to divorce)
- to have high self-confidence and not be 100% reliant on your partner
Let’s step up your respect game:
- Say “thank you.” I cannot stress enough how important this is (although it seems simple). Say “thank you” a LOT. Say “thank you” when your partner makes you food, when they wish you well before you go to work, and for simply being their amazing self.
- Compliment them. This one’s big if you’re in a long-term relationship—always find something to compliment them on (and try to avoid sarcasm!).
- Listen to them actively and empathetically. How are your listening skills? It can be easy to think you’re “always right” in the relationship… especially if you’re not listening. Brush up on your skills here: 14 Social Skills to Help You Win in Life.
What Does Self-Trust Look Like?
Self-trust is being compassionate toward yourself. It’s having the conviction of being kind and forgiving toward yourself, regardless of the outcome of your actions or decisions.
Self-trust is NOT:
- being right all the time
- having the power to turn things in your favor
- having the super high confidence that you’ll only find in Disney movies
If we look at the lives of people who RESONATE with self-trust, we can see that they have 2 things in common:
- Clarity on who they actually are. They are self-empowered and are confident in their own skin.
- Resilience to go through tough times. They have confidence that helps them power through challenges.
I call these types of people “interdependent.” They are a healthy combination of dependent AND independent.
Want to know the pinnacle of self-trust? People like Colonel Sanders, who built KFC, a national fried chicken restaurant. Even after the age of 65, Sanders started a new business and didn’t sell it until he was 73, gaining enough dough to live comfortably in retirement.
And his story is nothing short of amazing. Watch this video and tell me it doesn’t inspire you:
Why is Self-Trust So Important?
Not having trust in your abilities and in others can lead to:
- broken relationships (“Where are YOU going tonight all alone, honey?”)
- bad workplace experiences (“Are you SURE you can complete it by the deadline?”)
- an overall disturbing life (“If I can’t trust myself, who CAN I trust at all?”)
In fact, trust issues are an epidemic.
According to PEW research, Americans’ trust in each other and themselves is shrinking year over year, with confidence in each other only a measly 25% today.
So how do we regain our trust, and why is it so important?
Let’s take a deeper look at why you should trust yourself:
#1: Self-Trust Allows You to Make Better Decisions
Some people in school suffer from peer pressure.
And then they grow up into adults and think, “Yay, I’m free!”
But they’re totally wrong.
Just jump on Instagram or YouTube and your feed will be flooded with a ton of “right ways to live,” from the #hustle culture Gary Vaynerchuk to spiritual gurus telling you to live a relaxed life to those “follow your passion” new-agers.
So who do you listen to?
The key here is trusting yourself. Know yourself better than anyone else does—including your parents.
Allowing others to make decisions on your part is like putting a collar on your neck and giving someone else the leash.
This, unfortunately, happens a lot to people with low self-trust.
When you practice the principles of building self-trust, you become mentally independent and start following YOUR advice.
This way, you build your confidence and become more successful in life because you know what’s best for YOU.
Sounds easy, right?
It is, if you’ve got a lot of time to build your trust. But if you’re looking to build self-trust quickly, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Build up your self-trust every day and you’ll be MUCH happier.
#2: Trust Makes You A Better Risk-Taker
Want some time in the limelight?
You won’t get there without self-trust.
Building your self-trust makes you a much better risk-taker. You’ll not only take BETTER risks but LIFE-CHANGING ones too.
For example, let’s say you’re stuck in a dead-end job. If you have low self-trust, you might not want to leave because you don’t trust yourself to find better opportunities.
But if you have high self-trust, you’ll:
- ask for that raise
- command a team with leadership
- power through challenges without backing down
They say with great risk comes great reward. So without self-trust, are you willing to settle for little reward?
#3: Self-Trust Brings Out Your Best Under Stress
When a boxer enters the ring or a runner steps onto the field, it’s stressful because the whole world is watching.
Literally seconds determine if they will go home with a paycheck or a broken nose.
Athletes display excellent self-trust and believe in their feelings, emotions, and decisions.
This practice is so powerful that Moe Machida has published a study on the effectiveness of sport confidence and how it affects athletes and nonathletes.
Confidence matters. Self-trust from your own abilities and mental/physical preparation can literally be a game-changer.
So, did you come out of this article with a little more self-trust?
I know overcoming these hurdles and building your self-trust can be hard, but it’s critical for success—both personal and professional.
My best piece of advice is to take it with baby steps.
And if you want more, learn to build your self-worth like a boss: Self-Worth: 20 Ideas to Build Self-Esteem
I know you got this!