Many women struggle with trust – within themselves, in relationships, towards each other, and in the world. It’s a huge area, with a lot of nuances, but an important one for each of us to explore because it has a significant impact on the quality of our relationships and the decisions we make in our lives. As always, I think the most important place to start is with ourselves and with self-trust. A lack of self-trust manifests in situations that range from unpleasant to straight-up dangerous for a lot of women, and I think we can avoid these by learning to trust ourselves more. With that in mind, here are 4 ways you can develop more trust in yourself today.
1. Understand that you don’t need a third-party to validate how you feel.
Instead of trusting our feelings and experiences are inherently valid, we often look to a third-party to validate or invalidate our experiences.
20 years ago, I was in a relationship that had a lot of unhealthy dynamics. At the time, I was having a conversation with another woman, and she validated my experience of something that was happening with my boyfriend. Then in the heat of the moment with my boyfriend, I used what she said to validate what was transpiring between us because I wasn’t willing to just say it’s not OK for you to talk to me like that, or that such and such behavior is not OK. I needed to use a third party to assert that my feelings & experience were valid.
2. Don’t override your feelings or experiences just because no-one else agrees with them.
The flip side to this is what happens when we can’t find anyone to validate our feelings or experiences. I’ve seen and experienced the same story many times before:
A woman has an experience of someone, or gets a bad sense from them, but then finds out that no-one else seems to feel the same so overrides her own feelings, or thinks it must just be her. I regularly hear stories of women who ended up in questionable relational or sexual situations, for exactly this reason, so don’t override your own senses & intuition just because others don’t agree with them—you don’t need to make them ‘right’ but you do need to trust that some information is coming through, which brings me to my next point.
3. Let go of the story. You don’t need it.
Once we listen and feel something, we often put a huge amount of energy into trying to make a case that how we feel is right. We search for the data to support us, sometimes even straight-up making things up, in order to make a case for why our intuitive sense is right. Whatever we decide—ie. yes he’s trustworthy, no he’s not—we spend a shit ton of energy backing it up with external data. It’s exhausting and unnecessary.
What we know to be true for ourselves and what we can trust comes from our bodily experience. Everything beyond that is unnecessary energy expenditure. I’m not saying you are wrong about the story—you may very well be right—but you don’t need it, and there is so much energy lost in trying to figure it out that it gets messy.
“We can tell the truth & facts of the scenario without gossiping or making things up. We don’t need to make others wrong in order for our lives to be right or valid.”
I catch myself having arguments with myself inside my own head every now and then, and for me, that’s a sign to take a step back and look at what I am defending. Almost always, that’s where I find the truth. The essence of my truth is usually just one word, and all the other words and stories to justify that simple felt sense came from my own fear of simply standing in a simple felt sense.
The paradox is that there is no objective data to backup your inner knowing and yet it’s the most solid ground you can stand on because your truth is inarguable. We know it’s our truth when our words cannot be argued. This sounds like:
- I don’t like this
- I’m ready to go now
- No thank you
- I’m uncomfortable
- I want this
- I don’t want that
A beautiful way to practice is to assume that we know nothing about the other person and to leave it at that.
4. Trust your intuition, even if it turns out to be ‘wrong’.
There’s a healthy amount of ego strength that needs to be developed in order for this to happen. We need to learn to stand in our own inner knowing through whatever fear there is that we may be wrong, or judged, because of what is true for us.
The first place to start is with listening. I was working with a woman recently who was telling me a story about going out to dinner on a date and realizing very quickly that she didn’t want to be there. But she thought it would be rude to just leave. I suggested she could start by honoring herself in a small way by excusing herself to go to the bathroom. In doing so, she would both honor her felt sense, as well as create space away from the date to figure out what she would do next.
I have several exercises I do with women in my workshops around asking different parts of their bodies and beings for guidance. We work with everything from their hands to their hearts to their vaginas (read: Your 4 brains and how to use them), to their spine, etc. I am always in awe of the responses women get when they truly listen to their bodies. Acknowledging that you hear the signals your body is sending and finding some way to honor them, is the beginning of the path to finding your way forward.
5. Create Space to Listen
One of the essential ways we access our internal trust is to create space to listen. It’s important to remove ourselves from the noise, chatter, and the input of the world in order to even find out: How do I feel? What do I think? And, who am I when it’s not in response to an endless Facebook feed of inspirational quotes (of which I am adding to – LOL)? This is how we learn what trust even feels like
Standing in our truth is counter-cultural. I almost always give women the practice for a week or two to of noticing what they know to be true and exploring what they’d do in every moment if they weren’t afraid. This is probably one of the most important pieces of work for women in the world today.
If you are interested in exploring these concepts more, check out my upcoming retreat Return to Source. It’s spending 3 days off-the-grid and on land near Mt Shasta, listening, observing, being. Attending itself is an act of self-trust – you don’t need the external input; you don’t need validation in order to exist. You don’t need to do anything, or to prove anything; you get to simply be alive and listen.