What does it really mean to be trusting ourselves?

8 February, 2009

It is a really interesting word - TRUST.   What does it mean, really?  How do we do it and what are the benefits in our lives if we are more trusting?  And how many of us actually trust OURSELVES? How many of us trust ourselves to be: doing our best at any given moment, sleeping well enough, performing tasks and living up to expectations, achieving our goals, doing what we said we were going to do....?   So many problems arise when we are not trusting ourselves.  I am not talking about trusting others, as that deserves a whole new article to itself - I am talking about trusting ourselves - you, trusting you. 

I have been doing some interesting personal work on this topic recently and although we have talked about the topic of trust in other newsletters - it deserves to be discussed again as it is such a fundamentally important part of our lives and when we learn to be trusting ourselves, can make life a lot more enjoyable and successful. 

In answer to the above questions, you trust yourself every single day.  I know - a radical thing to say. You also know this to be true - if you look a little more closely:

    Did you have to remind yourself to breathe today?  No, of course you did not.Did you remind your brain how to walk today?  How to put one foot in front of the other and stride forward, like you've been doing since you were a tiny child?  Unless you've had some kind of accident where you would've had to re-learn walking, again, of course you did not remind yourself.How about your food digesting?  Did you tell your body exactly which nutrients to keep hold of and absorb, and exactly which ones to excrete?  How many inches to grow your hair?  No, of course not!And for those of us that drive a car, or ride a bike, did you remind yourselves how you do it, or did it seem almost natural to you, as if you were almost doing it without quite being aware how?  Do you even forget you're doing it sometimes, where you can be casually chatting away, and before you know it you're at your destination, and can't even remember how you got there!Did you mentally rehearse everything that came out of your mouth today, before it came out?  Or did you just seem to magically open your mouth and speak something perfectly viable and sensible?  Of course you did - and you do it every single day.

These are all examples of you, without being consciously aware, are trusting yourselves and your unconscious mind.  It operates these deeply ingrained functional skills and abilities which are integrated on such a significantly deep level and large scale and we take it all for granted!   Yet, they are highly skillful, dynamic operations that take a myriad of specific and complex neurotransmitter connections to fire successfully in sequence in less than a micro-second to achieve them!

The truth is, to have any of these things operating without you being aware consciously, means that you ARE trusting yourself, all the time, every single second of every single day of your whole lives. You are trusting your brain and your body to know what it's doing.  And it likes to be trusted!  Look what it does for you every day in return for being trusted by you!  Imagine if you tried consciously to breathe, walk, speak, drive; imagine you tried to be consciously aware and consciously controlling each and every action, telling yourself "right, place your hand on the steering wheel at a right angle, and then, when you slow down, place your right foot (or is it the left?) on the break pedal...not too much, just about 20% pressure......"  You'd be completely worn out and you wouldn't  have time for anything else!

With this amazing unconsciously ability to we have and trust every day, when and why do we learn to doubt ourselves and our abilities?  Why do we question whether we can do something or not, whether we will be successful at something or not, or whether our body can or can't do something for us (like sleep for example)?  Who knows, and I am not about to try and analyse it, as that could take approximately 10 years or so and we still wouldn't know how to change it.

What's even more important and impactful, is just to work out how to change it and do something different.  Because you can trust yourself, much more than you may have realised. 

The first thing we need to do, is throw a bucket of water over the Wicked Witch of the East and get her to melt!   We need to stop referring to trust as a "thing" that has a shape and a form.  Why? Because it DOESN'T have a shape and a form.  "Trust" DOES NOT EXIST!  You will never have it, and you will never not have it, you can't see it, you can't lose it, and you can't forget to take it out with you or put it in in the mornings!

We do this with lots of words in the English language (this is not true of all languages however) - we talk about what's actually a process as a "thing"  that exists inside of you somewhere, e.g. anxiety, depression, pain, confidence, self-esteem, insomnia, happiness.  It is called a nominalisation.   It creates the illusion that these things have a solid shape and form, like an object i.e. a glass.  If that was true, you could show me where they are and I can take them out for you, polish them up and put them back in; show me where your "depression" is, and let's take it out!

These nominalisations are misleading, as they are not things you will ever have, not have, lose, forget, put in your bag and take to work with you, leave them behind at your friend's place or forget to put them in in the morning, because they simply DO NOT EXIST that way.   You do not have insomnia, you do it.  You do not have happiness, you do it.  You do not have trust inside of you somewhere, you do it. And what that means is, if you haven't had the experience of sleep or happiness or trust recently, it just means you have forgotten how to do it, or just haven't done it in a while.  I know it sounds radical, especially when we are talking about serious things like depression and insomnia, and what I am saying is true.  Like all nominalisations, we don't have these "things" like the word implies, we DO the process of them.  If we don't like what we are doing and the result we are getting, we can do something different, then. 

We need to de-nominalise these nominalisations and turn them back into what they really are - a PROCESS.  Trust = trustING.  Please do note the capital, illatic ___ING on the end, it is intentional. So we need to start the process and start practising trusting.  

My suggestions about how to do this:

1)  Choose an area you have had difficulty trusting yourself in in the past.  For example, sleep (will I be able to sleep tonight?),  your current role at work (can I really do this, am I any good?), a goal, or a new challenge coming up i.e. a presentation at work, a sporting event, or any event that you had felt uncomfortable in (will I really be able to do this?  Can I do it?  What if xyz happens...?) or any other area where you notice you are not trusting yourself, and doubting yourself or worrying instead. You will know when you are worrying and doubting because you will likely get anxious feelings of when you think of it.

2)  Set yourself an outcome; firstly a positve statement.  Think about how you WANT to feel about this area (specifically in regards to trust) i.e. "I want to be trusting myself to deliver a well thought-out presentation" or "I want to be trusting myself to sleep appropriately tonight"  Make sure the word trusting is in your outcome, not "trust"!

3)  Think very closely about how you would know if you were TRUSTING yourself.  We are going to get detailed here, and let me say now, it's hard work to do this next part, and also totally worth it. Try as much as possible to be thinking about what it WILL be like, as oppose to what it has been like (i.e. solution as opposed to problem).  We are going to add as many ____INGs as we can:

Where would the feeling of trusting be in the body?  Chest, heart, head etc?

If you were to guess, what temperature would it have?  Warm, cool, hot, cold?

What colour would it be?

What shape would it be?

Would it be a still feeling or a moving feeling?

Are there any other ways in which you would know you were having this feeling of trusting?

What kind of thinking, in any given moment, would support a feeling of trusting like that?  I.e. what would be the actual words you would be saying to yourself when you're trusting yourself like that?

It will usually be something like:  I can do this, I've done this before and it was fine, I am doing the best I can, I will do it, I can trust myself.

What will you be doing differently when you are trusting yourself like that - i.e. what are the actual actions or behaviours that will change when you are trusting yourself in this area? 

What are you focusing on, or paying attention to, when you are trusting yourself like that?  I.e. you certainly won't be focusing on worrying or creating anxiety, so what WILL you be paying attention to, when you are trusting yourself in the way you have in mind?

Write this all down.  Make a picture of yourself doing all the things you have described.  Remind yourself to focus on this trusting of yourself at least once a day, if you can do it more (really, whenever you think of it!) then that would be super-useful.  Remember, you can't forget it or lose it, you just need to practise DOING it.  So, whenever you notice yourself not trusting, come back to what you have written here and start doing it again.

And notice the difference it makes.

Happy trusting; we are all practising it with you!

I would like to dedicate this article to my supervisor and trusted (!) mentor, Lynn Timpany, for all of her expert help and support, and whom I am very grateful for having in my career and my life.  Thank you Lynn!  Go to www.lynntimpany.co.nz for more. 

With love and positive, trusting thoughts, Charlotte.

www.charlottehinksman.com for NLP services in Wellington.

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