What I often talk about in therapy with clients is the importance of building trust in yourself and avoiding, what I call, “self-abandonment.” This can happen when put others needs in front of our own, when we talk ourselves out of our understandable feelings, when we fight against our gut instincts that tell us this is the wrong thing and when we judge ourselves harshly for the decisions we make. When we do this over and over again, we can lose trust in ourselves. Self-abandonment also compromises our belief that we will be there for ourselves when making decisions or what happens in our lives. The good news is, we can take steps to build trust in ourselves and make decisions that are more in-line with what we really want.
1.) APPROACH MISTAKES WITH COMPASSION AND AS A NECESSARY PART OF LEARNING AND GROWTH
True confidence and competence comes through hard-work, receptivity to feedback and steady discipline over a period of time. Mistakes are a necessary part of growth as they give us an opportunity reflect and improve. We can be told hundreds of times what to do however the best way we learn is through experience and practice.
Knowing this, we can give ourselves the freedom to make (and even welcome) mistakes. Further, we can approach mistakes with compassion towards ourselves, as we know it is an essential part of our personal growth. Sometimes, I will stop myself from self-judgment by asking “If this was a close friend of mine going through the same thing, would I be as hard on them as I am on myself right now?” More often than not, we grant a lot more compassion for others than we do for ourselves and we deserve the same treatment we would give a trusted friend or loved one.
2.) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH OTHERS WHO SUPPORT YOU
The most valuable commodities we have are our time and energy. People who are negative, who criticize your efforts, who become competitive with you or dominate your time with their problems can compromise your confidence and ability to grow. Who we surround ourselves with has a huge impact and it’s important to identify who is truly on your side and supportive of you and your goals. This may mean learning how to identify people who are good for you and letting go of those who are not. By doing this, you send yourself the message “I value my time and energy, I deserve supportive people in my life and I have the right to decide who is in my circle and who is not.”
3.) KEEP THE PROMISES YOU MAKE TO YOURSELF
One of the things that can cause the biggest feeling of self-abandonment is not keeping the promises you make to yourself. For example, we may socially over-commit ourselves time and again when we told ourselves we really needed the time to recharge or we may have committed to spending less time with a toxic friend, only to reach out to them for coffee the very next day. By doing these kinds of actions, you are sending the message to yourself that your needs don’t matter. This, in turn, can invite in feelings of sadness or low self-worth.
The more you keep promises you make to yourself, the more validated and stronger you will feel. Be your own best friend and talk to yourself in a loving and kind way. Change your inner monologue to one that is compassionate and an advocate for your needs. By doing this over time, it will help increase your mood and your confidence in a helpful and healthy way.
Starting a process of implementing these 3 things will set you on a path towards decreased anxiety and depression and increased trust in yourself. Don’t expect perfection, be gentle and generous with yourself.
Wishing you love and light in the new year,