Trust in yourself and stop the externalization! Feel free to skip the rather extensive intro, by following this link: How to develop trust in yourself? When I was around 17 to 18 years old, I was hoping to win the lottery one day – and I’m pretty sure many people have had similar wishes, at least in some stages in their lives. Hitting the jackpot is a tempting idea, especially because it would have allowed me to eliminate all the trivial problems in my life. I would not have had to bother with the struggles in my job, the defusing and demanding customers and the many other challenges that came with life. To make a long story short, I was hoping for external influences to suddenly change my life for the better. And you know what happened? Nada! Nothing changed at all because the external factors didn’t come to play as I had hoped they would.
Obviously, I did not win the lottery, which is not a tragedy for me, but it taught me a valuable lesson in life: relying on external factors to change your life for the better means to hand over the responsibility for your life to untrustworthy third parties.
Surprisingly, the “externalization issue” permeates our whole society on every level. We literally grow up with it and get used to it right from the beginning of life. And on certain levels, it’s great to have externals that take care of us, like our parents that bring us up and the teachers that explain to us how the world works. But we have become so accustomed to the whole concept that it became THE underlying foundation of many people’s lives, always reminding them to search for external guidance in every situation they find themselves in. The “externalization issue” expresses itself as the mocking voice in your head that continuously whispers that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not intelligent enough and what have you. But the one thing this little voice will always suggest is that you need others to solve all your problems. Externals that are far more intelligent, wealthy, handsome, (etc.) than you are, no matter if these “others” are politicians, activists, CEO’s, guru’s, extra-terrestrials, higher powers or even god(s).
Just look around and you will notice the diversity of the externalization concept. We look up to politicians that praise us change for the better, we consolidate opinion leaders to conceive an opinion and we have all of our favorite guru’s lined up, to make the most out of every situation in life. And don’t we admire those externals because they “figured it all out”, were “chosen by god”, are in contact with “higher powers” – in short, because they are seemingly (!) better than us? Besides all the admiration of how amazing these public figures are, we give our power away to others, hoping that they will do – whatever we hope and deeply desire – for us.
And the above-named examples (politicians, guru’s, etc.) merely scratch the surface. If we continue to dig deeper into the rabbit hole, we can see that externalization surrounds us in every thinkable situation – even religion. All live long, we wait for external influences to suddenly show up and change our life for the positive. But the thing is, we have already everything we need for this change. You don’t need externals to help you when you trust in yourself!
1. Take responsibility for your life
How does one develop trust in oneself, if one had always managed to pass the blame for one’s mistakes to external circumstances? I mean, would you trust in yourself, if you had always found reasons outside yourself to blame for your mistakes? I guess not. The first step to developing faith in oneself has nothing to do with becoming overly confident, but with taking responsibility for one’s mistakes and failures. Playing the blame game makes you become the victim that is helpless and cannot change its fate. In short, you will always depend on others in some way or the other, when playing the “blaming victim”. But in reality, you’re only as long in a helpless situation for as long as you choose to play the blame game. But once you set yourself free from passing the blame to others you have taken the necessary responsibility for your life, which is the foundation for having trust in oneself.
2. Forgive yourself
Acknowledging one’s responsibility for the mistakes and failures in life should come hand in hand with the willingness to forgive yourself for these. Instead of blaming yourself for the mistakes you committed in the past, try to discover the lessons these failures/mistakes might have taught you. Thereby, you will understand the higher purpose underlying each and every one of your failures. It furthermore will help you to avoid making similar mistakes again. For more information see Stop worrying about failure.
How to forgive yourself?
Forgive yourself, by discovering the valuable lessons each and every one of your failures taught you! I know, failing can be tremendously painful and what not, but at least you can pat yourself on the back for having tried. For being courageous enough to do something, when you could have done nothing and for having gained another very valuable experience that will benefit you in your future. Make yourself aware of the fact that the only sure-fix way to avoid any failure is to do absolutely nothing! Therefore, consider your mistakes as learning experience; write down what that failure in 2005 and this mistake back in 2009 taught you and you’ll be stronger and wiser than before.
Learn to forgive yourself, which is – besides taking responsibility – the second most important groundwork towards building trust in oneself. Let go of the anger you hold against yourself and others – the state of resentment coupled with accusations against yourself isn’t a helpful background to develop trust in oneself, so let go of it. As an important side note, you don’t need to forgive yourself for being human – with all the character traits and weaknesses that come with it – just as you need not blame yourself for making human mistakes. There’s no need to forgive yourself for being who you are, just as there is no need to be perfect.
3. Come to terms with your past
The story of the past is open to dispute, but there is one fact about it that no one can deny: the past cannot be changed. Wrong actions cannot be revoked, hurtful words cannot be withdrawn and the events you wish would never have happened cannot be changed. Just as much as anyone else I wish I never committed the biggest mistakes in my life, but I do know that all of them have become an inevitable part of my life, whether I accept it or not.
With this in mind, it becomes even clearer that worrying about what happened in the past and blaming it for your present situation will lead you next to nowhere. All it does is create just more pain and insecurities when facing a similar situation in the present. In order to regain the faith in yourself, come to terms with the past, accept that what’s been done is done without any hope of changing it. The only thing you can influence is the present; you can now start building a brighter future or remaining in remorse about the past for the rest of your life.
Coming to terms with the past…
…by making the most out of the present!
With the understanding that the past cannot be changed arises a feeling of helplessness in many. This is quite understandable, but there is absolutely no need to feel helpless, as the present can be changed, unlike the past, in every moment and every situation in the here and now. People begin to lose faith in themselves when they (mistakenly) realize that they have no control about their past and/or their life in general, which is a fallacy. You can always be in control of your future! This is why it is so vital not to let the past take control of the present, as it steals you the only chance for change you have.
Keep in mind that the actions of today create the future you will be living in. If you built the future based on the foundation of trust in yourself, there’s nothing to lose for you!
4. Follow your heart/intuition
Having trust in oneself does not only imply that you have faith in your abilities and skills, but also that you are courageous enough to follow your intuition, whenever this inner guidance and wisdom gives you advice. It takes a lot of courage to follow where the heart leads, especially when the ego/rational mind suggests you not do, but it also takes a lot of faith in oneself to do so. Therefore, listening to your intuition will strengthen the trust you have in yourself, allowing you to further rely on your own strengths and abilities.
Synopsis on how to follow the heart:
- Quiet your rational mind
- Practice meditation
- Don’t force things – go with the flow
- Keep an intuitive journal to notice the messages
- Trust in your intuition
- Get creative
- Listen to your body signals
- Follow spontaneous thoughts
The “mystery” of following one’s heart would go beyond the scope of this article and it really deserves an article of its own, which can be found here: How to listen to your heart?
5. Trusting yourself vs. seeking advice from others
A tell-tale sign of a person that – to put it politely – doesn’t trust in itself much, is the excessive use of another person’s input, when it comes to decision-making. And I believe we all have met people in our lives – may they be classmates, fellow students or colleagues – who would always ask each individual in the social circle about their opinion, before making a decision on their own. Interestingly enough, whenever I experienced this “phenomena”, no life-changing decisions needed to be met, but the most trivial decisions of everyday life one can think of, like the choice of whether to go to the canteen for lunch or to order a pizza. But please don’t get me wrong here, considering the input and guidance of others in a wise way, especially when it comes to life-changing decisions, can never be a bad thing, but meeting a decision based on the opinion of others can be – especially when lacking trust in yourself.
The balancing act of seeking advice
Seeking the counsel and guidance of another person, when having to meet a life-changing decision, can be a very important thing. It might help you to see things from another perspective and gives you the opportunity to learn from the wisdom your guide has gathered throughout his life. The exchange with others can be very supportive; it will show you new possibilities where you hadn’t expected an alternative, new solutions and different approaches, when confronted with a seemingly unsolvable problem.
On the other hand, seeking advice from externals on a daily basis, no matter how insignificant the decision that needs to be met, can have a devastating effect on the faith you have in yourself. This is the reason I named it “the balancing act of seeking advice” as you need to find the right balance in between finalizing a decision solely by trusting into your own abilities and the situation you need to seek guidance from others. As a rule of thumb, feel into yourself and seek for your inner guidance/knowing and you will know what the best is for you. And should you still be in doubt about an important decision that needs to be met, consult others and consider their input.
6. Become the master of your life
If you are a regular reader of this website, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of all the “guru-ism” out there, id est the continuous search for individuals that the masses can look up to, which is (by the way) just another form of externalization. This article is all about self-empowerment and the development of trust in oneself, so it’s important to understand the dangers that “guru worship” can have on the faith a person has in itself.
The dangers of “guru worship”
- You’ll never transcend your teacher
- You become dependent on another person’s guidance
- You’re not equal to your guru and never will be
- You run danger of becoming biased against any kind of knowledge/information that is beyond the scope of what your guide teaches. That way, you limit yourself in your own growth
I rather prefer to empower my readers, instead of turning them into my followers. With having this in mind, I would like to encourage you to become the master of your life in order to increase the faith you have in yourself. Be your own guru, instead of looking up to others! You are the one and only who has all the knowledge about every aspect of your being, ranging from your character to the experiences you’ve made and the difficulties you’re facing in life. No one else does have this sort of knowledge, except you! When it comes to your life, you’re the only authority and – so to say – the only master that will always accompany you, no matter where your path takes you!
None of the experts or guru’s have studied you personally, they didn’t walk in your shoes and haven’t experienced life from your perspective. Instead, they share the techniques that work for them, in their situation and their life, which doesn’t necessarily has to work for you as well. Therefore, my recommendation to become the master of your life!
Self-trust is the essence of heroism.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
All in all, developing trust in yourself means to get to know yourself better. It’s the continuous search for what works for you and what doesn’t. With faith in yourself you can achieve whatever you aspire, without it, you’ve already lost. Also, if you want to increase the faith you have in yourself, be trustworthy with others and give them the kind of trust you would like to receive from them.
How have you been able to start trusting yourself unconditionally?