Trust is an interesting concept — and far more exciting as an action. Trusting yourself involves the willingness and confidence to rely on your own integrity, abilities, and character to meet the challenges of a particular experience, or all of life for that matter. For me, trust is not only a psychological factor, but has a spiritual component as well because God is very much a part of my worldview.

I believe that the ultimate gamble with the greatest potential gain in life is to trust yourself and that in so doing, you gain a level of freedom, authenticity, and peace that is unreachable any other way. Trust requires living in your own skin, recognizing your own authority as the very best arbiter of what is for you and what is not. We may have learned as children to trust and rely upon the authority of others to tell us what to do and when to do it. But there is a profound and authentic inner voice that lies dormant within us all until we start to listen to it and recognize its ability to express our deepest truth and to guide us with the most precise discernment of what will serve our highest good — whether we like it or not. Some call this their “inner” or “true” self, and some suggest this is the spark of the divine that resides in each of us. Either way, just as with physical exercise we are trained to strengthen our core muscles, we must strengthen this core self as well by exercising its voice. That’s how we learn to trust ourselves. Otherwise, we remain at the effect of external sources of authority and simply react to them, usually with the intention of getting their approval or affecting their perception of us in some way.

In my second doctoral dissertation, I focused on the topic of trust because I had become profoundly aware of the fact that whenever I felt out of balance, the bottom line was that I wasn’t trusting myself. As I explored the internal wiring of my consciousness, I discovered something remarkable — my lack of self-trust was so fundamental to my way of being that I was living my life built upon the intention of avoiding pain and suffering. I knew that it was fairly normal to minimize our distress, but my behavior was an all-encompassing way of being whereby I sought to anticipate and avoid perceived sources of suffering.

There was an ironic and fundamental flaw in my approach. In my effort to achieve greater happiness by avoiding pain and suffering, I was actually attracting them to me by focusing upon them rather than on the happiness I sought. I was equating happiness with an absence of pain. In fact, our minds act like great magnets attracting to us what we focus upon, which in turn makes our intentions and focal points self-fulfilling prophecies.

Inherent in my approach was the fact that I neither trusted myself nor God, and so I played God by attempting to write the script of my life. I recognized this as the most pivotal shift I needed to make in my consciousness to improve my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and I wanted the joy, ease, grace, and abundance that it would bring forth in my life.

So, what about you?

Do you trust yourself?

Do you tend to live at the effect of people and events outside yourself?

Or, alternatively, do you experience yourself as capable of living your life with all its unanticipated twists and turns?

Here are three keys that really helped me make this wonderful transformation of my inner experience. First, I practiced keeping my consciousness focused in the present moment until that became a good habit. This replaced my previous habit of worrying so much about the future. It empowered me to take appropriate action in the only time frame that affords us that opportunity — the present.

Secondly, I observed myself and developed a list of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experiences and expressions during the presence or absence of trust in my consciousness. Creating this list helped me to recognize what it looks like and feels like to be trusting — to put flesh on the bones of the concept of trust. For example, I noticed that when I was experiencing trust, I was physically relaxed, comfortable, open, with fluid and graceful movements. In contrast, when lacking trust, I became rigid, tense, stressed, and pushed others away. Mentally, I was not feeling attached to my point of view, worrying, judging others, or avoiding anything. Instead, I was paying attention to what was present and cooperating with it. Emotionally, trust allowed me to go with the flow, confident that I could meet whatever came my way. This was an enormous contrast to my previous experience of anger, fear, agitation, resistance to whatever I did not like, and doubting my ability to be happy in life. Spiritually, trust brought an attunement to the highest good of all concerned and the desire to surrender to “God’s way” rather than demanding “my way.” Rather than playing God, I learned to recognize God’s wisdom and presence in my life.

Finally, I practiced, practiced, and practiced doing more of the things that brought greater trust, and breaking the habit of doing those that did not. I came to believe that there is nothing “wrong” that I have to try to fix. I discovered that trusting is about letting go of “should”s, “have to”s, demands, expectations, fears, illusions, and delusions. The more I surrendered into trust, the more it became my automatic response. Rather than closing down and retreating in response to pain and suffering, I built skills in experiencing them and learning from them. This built my openness and trust that God’s infinite wisdom is present at all times — not just in the experiences that I like.

What lessons have you learned about trusting yourself that you could share here with others?

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