Last week, I encouraged you to trust. I encourage you to think about where in your life you are trying to control something that is uncontrollable or plan something that is unplannable. And I recognize that just saying, trust yourself. Trust doesn’t always do the trick. Trust seems to be at the center of the work that I do, both for myself and for my clients.
And oftentimes… And I have been directly asked this question, how do you overcome lack of self trust? Or in other words, how do you develop self trust? So today I hope to go a little deeper with this very essential skill, or at least shed some light on why it might be difficult for you. So let’s start with the definition.
What is trust really? Upon the very first Google search, when I asked the Googles to define trust, the first definition was a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. So it puts trust in this sort of logical, point of view. I actually believe based off of what I have learned from the nervous system or about the nervous system, that it’s deeper than that.
It’s much more than just a belief. So the second definition that I think is pretty concise and it’s Um, and then the last one, which is decent, is to hope or rely on confidently. So we’re getting closer, we’re getting to kind of some body sensations, some emotions when we talk about hope or reliance or confidence.
My own definition that you will not find on the Googles, maybe I should. Put this somewhere so that somebody can, um, find this when they Google what is trust is a felt sense, like an internal felt sense that your needs will be met. And it starts with your original caregivers, right? So it’s this felt sense that your needs will be met.
And I’m going to talk to you about a trust cycle that starts in infancy. When an infant is born, they are completely 100% reliant on their caregiver to meet their needs. A human infant can’t even like scratch an itch really, right? They get a wet or dirty diaper, they get hungry, they get too hot or too cold, anything like that.
They can’t physically fix it, right? And so The human infant is completely reliant on their caregivers to meet every single need, big or small. Now, other animals in the animal kingdom are not so reliant on their caregivers. They, some animals can walk right.
So recognizing that as humans, we inherently have built into us this, this reliance on other people around us is important. So every time the infant starts to get dysregulated, so what that means is they have a need. And they start to feel like, uh, like uncomfortable, something’s not right. A well attuned caregiver will notice, they will notice, okay, baby’s fussing, not, they don’t even have to get to the fussing point, right?
They will just notice like, okay, something just changed. Baby needs something and they will meet that need very quickly. So every time they depend on the caregiver to meet. The need, the caregiver, when they meet that need, brings them back into nervous system regulation. Every time the caregiver does this, it reinforces the felt sense of trust.
Like, Oh, Oh, you’re here, you’re me, you’ll make it all good. I’m okay now. Right. They, the caregiver, most of the time mamas in, you know, in this case, see, anticipate the need that the baby has. And bring the baby back to a felt sense of, Oh, everything is right in the world again. And the faster, more reliably, more consistently this happens, the more trust is built between that baby and their caregiver.
Now every time the caregiver does not meet the need. either, you know, right away, or maybe sometimes they meet a need, but sometimes they don’t, it reinforces the felt sense of dysregulation. And when we feel often dysregulated, our bodies Will look for and create coping mechanisms to deal with that longer term Dysregulation.
So this might look like an infant cries for a while. Nobody comes so then they just fall back asleep, right? This is a coping mechanism to keep them from getting too overwhelmed with the feeling of that dysregulation the feeling of that need in their body. Um, a reliable felt sense of trust as we build this with our caregiver, right, will lead to a reliable identity.
It will lead to self confidence and it will lead to healthy autonomy later on. So this is probably a topic for another episode, but healthy autonomy is neither codependency nor hyper independence. Right. So you’re not too dependent and you’re not too independent. You’re right in that sweet spot of what I would call interdependence.
Okay, so this begs the question, should parents trust their kids if trust like this true embodied sense of trust, If trust is based on needs being met consistently and reliably, and by definition, children don’t meet their parents needs because they are children, and they have fewer resources, then is trust a one way street?
And this is a little bit of a tangent, but it’s just something that I’ve been pondering. And really what I would say is that the world’s definition of trust, which is sort of this belief in the ability or truth of what someone else says. Um, maybe for that definition, parents can trust their kids, right?
If you say you’re going to be home by a certain time and then you are okay, I can trust you, you know, that kind of thing. I think parents can trust their kids from a logical perspective, but from this embodied need I don’t think that parents trust their kids. It’s a one way street and kids are meant to trust their parents.
The parents are meant to be the bigger, stronger, wiser, kinder beings, not the ones that go to their kids for like, Oh, you have to meet this need. Okay. So that’s just kind of something to think about, especially if you’re a parent, which probably most of you are when we are talking about trust in this sort of nervous system regulation way, it’s the one way street for the less capable, the less resourced person to trust the more capable, more resourced person.
Okay. So then the next question is, then how do adults get their needs met? Right? We are a generation of adults who have grown up with parents who practice parenting in a way that was very dysregulating for many, many of us, not all of us, but many of us. And we didn’t Create this felt sense of trust, which is why this question is coming up, right?
How do I overcome a lack of self trust or how do I develop self trust? So how do adults do this if they don’t have a bigger, stronger, wiser, kinder being? And the short answer is, is that you have to do it yourself. Some circles might call this reparenting where you meet, you know, in your imagination, you, you meet yourself in your younger self and what did you need and what did you need to hear and all of that?
And you give yourself those things. This is not from a logical point of view. This is from an embodied point of view. And let me give you an example. I had a client recently talk about how between sessions, she was feeling this heavy feeling around her neck, like her head was being pulled down and her mind kept telling her, don’t rest, keep going.
You have things to do. But her body was saying, let’s lay down. Let’s just take a little nap. And she was like, no, I don’t have time. I can’t do that. But she’s learning to follow her body. And so she thought, okay, I’ll just. Lay down for a couple minutes. Close my eyes. She sort of dozed for a few minutes, not a whole long time.
She woke up and she was like, oh, I need to go pee. So she went pee and then she had something to eat and she recognized that that heavy feeling around her neck that was pulling her head down was gone. So this is what I mean by noticing your own needs and meeting them. The more you notice your needs and you reliably and consistently meet those needs, The more you will trust yourself, you will build this inner felt sense of, Oh, you’re here for me.
You will meet my needs. You’ll make it okay. Now we can’t always a hundred percent meet our own needs. Um, sometimes we want somebody else to meet our needs. And I just want to say here that we can make requests of other people, of our spouses, of our parents, of our neighbors, whatever it is, but we can’t force other people to meet our needs.
So, in a healthy interdependent relationship, we are separate beings, but we lean on one another. So, sometimes I might lean on you or you might lean on me, but if I need to walk away, you’re going to be okay standing on your own two feet. So we kind of function better. together. When, when we’re leaning on one another, we’re relying on one another for certain things.
It’s more efficient. It’s, it’s better, right? And we are tribal. We’re a tribal species. We want to be with other people. We just get into a little bit of trouble when We tell each other, you have to meet my need. You’re not my parent. I’m not an infant or a toddler or a young child, but I need you to fulfill this need for me.
It’s the difference between saying, I trust you because you are who you say you are, versus I trust you because you are who I want you to be. And we can’t ever force people to be who we want them to be. Sometimes it happens naturally and easily, and it’s beautiful and wonderful. And sometimes we really fight to get someone to try to be who we want them to be.
I remember when I was younger, when I was in college, um, I really wanted my dad to be a certain way. And. It just caused me so much pain and suffering. And when I finally sort of let go and was just like, Okay, that’s not who you are. The person I want you to be as my father is just not who you are. And I became more independent, more able to rely on myself.
And it was easier for me to love my dad. Because I could just be like, Oh yeah, I see who you are. You can be who you are. I don’t need you to be a certain way for me. I I’ve got myself, if you don’t want to fulfill my needs. And you know, by this time I was adult age, then that’s fine. I can do it. And it just created so much more openness and ease in my life.
And. Really as I’m looking back in my body so we can meet our own needs That’s the surest way to build self trust and it is self trust not trust in others, right? But sometimes we need others to meet our needs or I shouldn’t say we need others to meet our needs We want others to meet our needs we can get really creative with how we do that, right?
I wanted to touch on the relationship with God for a moment, because sometimes things are completely out of our own realm and it’s completely out of anybody else’s realm. It’s just something that only God could do or, you know, some higher being some more powerful being. And as I’ve been thinking about this, I realized that relying on God and trusting God is how We take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ, right?
It’s the atonement and like bringing the atonement into your life is essentially saying, Lord, I have this need and I can’t meet it and nobody else can meet it. Will you please meet it? And then we trust, right? We exercise some faith, but we like trust in our bodies. God will meet my need. And then we notice how he does it.
We have to be really careful to release our idea of how he should meet our needs. And when we can be open to God will meet my needs. I trust and know this. I don’t know how he’s going to do it, but I know he will. That’s when we start to see miracles happening because I think that relationships are always a triangle between ourselves, other people, and God.
Whether we believe in God or not, there are higher forces happening in the world and it’s that relationship with those higher forces. Okay. So a little recap, when we want to build self trust, we have to consistently and reliably meet our own needs. Sometimes we do this through other people by making requests and saying, Hey, could you do this for me?
Sometimes we have to get creative in other ways. Sometimes we might turn it over to God, but it’s this element of consistently and reliably Noticing what our needs are, which I believe happens when we drop into our bodies, we feel what is there, we follow our urges and we stay connected. We stay on our own side the whole time.
Let me talk about this connected on your own side piece for a second. Sometimes when we attempt to meet our own needs, it doesn’t go the way we think it should, or we think it will. And oftentimes when I hear people say. I can’t trust myself. I think what that means is if it doesn’t go the way I think it should or will, then I will blame and shame myself.
I will beat myself up. But if we pause between, okay, this didn’t go the way I thought and the blame and the shame. If we just stop right there, okay, this, I have this need didn’t go the way I thought it would. And in that moment, what is your embodied need? What if you asked your body, what do I need right now?
I’m, I’m feeling disappointed. It didn’t go the way I thought. Probably I’m just going to take a stab here. Probably what you need in that moment is reassurance and love and support and encouragement. Not criticism, right? So there’s this element of, you know, life is dynamic and it’s changing. And it’s not, it’s not, it’s easy for me to sit here and say like, Oh yeah, we drop into our bodies and we feel what’s there and we follow the urges.
Most people can’t do that on their own. It’s so foreign. They can’t do it. I couldn’t do it on my own for a very long time. It’s so it’s easy to talk about it, but when we get into the practice of it. There’s a really important piece of no matter what happens, I am on my own side, right? I’m trying to drop into my body, let my body reveal its wisdom to me, follow that wisdom and stay on my own side, stay connected to whatever’s happening in my body instead of turning on myself.
Every time we turn on ourselves. We erode our self trust, okay? And maybe that’s, uh, an episode, a separate episode as well. That’s how I see it. As adults to build self trust, we have to create the skill of being able to feel our emotions, our sensations, feel what’s happening in our body, tap into some would call it intuition or the spirit, and then follow that, follow that voice.
In order to get our needs met. And when we do that over and over again, reliably and consistently, we build trust in ourselves. Like I said, most people cannot do this by themselves. I could not do this by myself at first. I could sit there on the yoga mat and think about, okay, what am I feeling? But I really, the first several months, maybe even a year or longer.
It was so much easier for me to do this when I had my coach with me, when I didn’t have to think about like have the coach brain and the response brain, right? What are you feeling? Where is that? I could just answer the question and be with it. It’s very foreign in our culture to talk about and think about and really to feel.
In a very genuine connected way. So if you feel like you’re in that boat, I totally get it. There’s nothing wrong with you. I encourage you to come sign up for a free session. You don’t even have to pay me a dime just to come experience what it’s like in one session. And even maybe one session can give you just a little bit of a jumpstart so that you can start doing some of this sort of feeling this embodied trust work on your own.