Trust is defined as a feeling or firm belief in the truthfulness, strength, and ability of someone who we see as worthy of our confidence. And it plays a vital role in strengthening and maintain our relationships. We build trust with other people by being there for them, being open with them, and aligning our words with our actions. But what about building trust in ourselves?
Learning how to trust yourself is the key to creating a healthy relationship with yourself, as it fosters a deeper sense of self-love, self-compassion, and self-confidence within us. But for a lot of us, self-trust doesn’t always come so easily. Many people often struggle with issues of self-doubt that can lead them to sabotaging their own chances at happiness and success.
So, how do you know when you don’t trust yourself? Here are 8 tell-tale signs that can help you figure it out before it’s too late:
1. You always second guess yourself.
Do you have a hard time making decisions, no matter how small or inconsequential? Do you often find yourself wavering between choices for long periods of time, unable to make up your own mind? Being indecisive and constantly second-guessing yourself shows that you are struggling to trust your own judgment. You’ve become paralyzed with indecision because you find the possibility of you messing up all too real and too likely to happen. You feel overwhelmed when you have too much freedom because you lack the confidence to stand by your decisions — which brings us to our next point.
2. You overthink everything.
Once you finally do make up your mind, you immediately start wondering if you made the right choice. And more often than not, you start seeing all the reasons why you should’ve gone with the other option instead. You are prone to feeling lots of anxiety, guilt, and regret over the things you do and overthinking all your actions because you don’t have enough faith in yourself to do well and succeed. You’re so convinced that you’ll mess up or make a mistake somehow that it makes you hesitant, timid, and unsure of yourself (Mirels, Greblo, & Dean, 2002).
3. You trust other people’s opinions more than your own.
Another definite sign that you have issues with self-trust is if you value other people’s opinions more than your own (Govier, 1993). You are easily swayed by the opinions of others and can’t make a decision without asking for their input first. Say for example, you want to buy something you’ve had your eye on forever, but because your friends tell you they don’t like it, you change your mind. You’re easily discouraged and prone to pleasing people because, the truth is, you trust everyone else more than you trust yourself.
4. You don’t validate your own experiences.
Are you forgetful or easily confused? Do you often find yourself feeling like you’ve left something behind or forgotten to do something important? If this sounds like you, it may not be because you’re as absent-minded as you think, but because you don’t trust yourself enough to validate your own experiences. Whenever you think to yourself, “I’m sure that I left it here” or “I swear I remembered to do that already,” you soon start to wonder if it’s actually true. You often find yourself wondering if things are the way you remember them because you have this unshakeable feeling that you’ve done something wrong or made a mistake somehow.
5. You’re afraid to speak up.
Studies show that people who are shy and quiet also tend to have trouble trusting themselves, which is what makes them so afraid to speak up (Lehrer, 1999). They don’t like to be the center of attention and they’re not comfortable talking to a crowd or a group, even their own close friends, because they’re afraid of being judged or ridiculed. They don’t like to share their opinions, thoughts, feelings, and viewpoints, especially when it contradicts those around them, because they lack conviction, assertiveness, and self-confidence.
6. You try to control everything.
Has anyone ever told you you’re too bossy or controlling? Do you often find yourself taking charge of things and planning ahead of time for just about everything? Another common way a lack of self-trust can manifest in our behaviors is through a strong need for control (Hermann, Leonardelli, & Arkin, 2002). When you try to control everything around you and feel upset when things don’t go the way you expect, it’s most likely because you don’t trust yourself enough to handle the curveballs life might throw your way.
7. You struggle to recognize your worth.
When you have problems trusting and believing in yourself, you undermine your own success and belittle your own accomplishments. You struggle to see all the great qualities you have and contributions you’ve made because you fail to recognize your own self-worth. You feel embarrassed when people compliment you because you don’t feel deserving of their praise. So no matter how much reassurance and encouragement people may give you, you still keep selling yourself short time and time again.
8. You’re overly critical with yourself.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, when you’re overly harsh, demanding, and critical with yourself, that’s definitely a red flag that you need to work on your self-trust. Every time you make a mistake, no matter how small, you are always the first to point it out because you are your own worst critic. You beat yourself up over your shortcomings and find it hard to forgive yourself for the things you’ve done wrong. You dwell on your past mistakes and often find yourself grappling with self-doubt because you don’t trust yourself enough to be more understanding with your own flaws and weaknesses (Olson, et al., 2000).
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Do you often struggle to trust yourself, too, at times? Just like with self-love and self-compassion, it takes time to cultivate a healthy sense of self-trust within ourselves. And we make it harder when we put a lot of unnecessary and unrealistic demands on ourselves to be perfect all the time.
Self-trust is the ability to believe in ourselves in spite of our mistakes, forgive ourselves for our past failures, and still have hope that we are strong enough to overcome the problems we may face. And acknowledging all the ways you show a lack of self-trust is the first step in rebuilding it.
- Mirels, H. L., Greblo, P., & Dean, J. B. (2002). Judgmental self-doubt: Beliefs about one’s judgmental prowess. Personality and individual differences, 33(5), 741-758.
- Govier, T. (1993). Self‐trust, autonomy, and self‐esteem. Hypatia, 8(1), 99-120.
- Lehrer, K. (1999). Self-trust: A study of reason, knowledge and autonomy.
- Olson, K. C., Poehlmann, K. M., Yost, J. H., Lynch, M. E., & Arkin, R. M. (2000). Subjective overachievement: Individual differences in self‐doubt and concern with performance. Journal of Personality, 68(3), 491-524.
- Hermann, A. D., Leonardelli, G. J., & Arkin, R. M. (2002). Self-doubt and self-esteem: A threat from within. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(3), 395-408.