If you can’t trust yourself, who CAN you trust?

People tell me, “I don’t trust myself” almost as often as they tell me, “I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy.” When I reply that these statements are not really true, people often counter with, “I know that intellectually, but it doesn’t help.”

These statements support each other like the legs of the proverbial 3-legged stool.

Sometimes it feels so “right” not to trust oneself, even though it is discouraging. That discouraging feeling convinces us we are unworthy. Then we feel trapped because we believe that using our mind to think about it will not help us. After all, we have evidence! Reviewing our “intellectual knowing” has never helped us. So often we’ve seen how quickly it turns into critical self-lecturing that only makes us feel worse.

Our “intellectual knowing” is often a merry-go-round of bad news!

But here’s the good news: This is an easy problem to solve! I will walk you through that problem-solving process step-by-step in just a moment. 

Intellectual Knowing vs. True Innate Intelligence

When you understand the difference between “knowing something intellectually” versus addressing a challenge by applying reasoning and logic, you can avoid the needless suffering that comes from believing misconceptions. 

In this case, we are considering when we have lost faith in our intellect. This happens when we have the mistaken notion that being able to repeat things we have read or heard IS intellectual knowledge. And when we’re acting on this idea, we usually have a lot of painful, frustrating experiences that demonstrate to us that repetition never seems to help. Oops! There’s where we lose our way.

Few of us were taught that when we repeat such things and find the repetitions unhelpful, it is because we are using our “intellectual recording device” NOT our true, innate intelligence. No one told us that we have BOTH an intellectual recording device AND a true innate intelligence! The intellectual recorder can play back all of the wonderful things you have read or heard, but that recorder is purely mechanical –– it is not connected to our far more powerful true, innate problem-solving intelligence.

Our problem-solving intelligence functions as inquiry, reason, and logic. 

When we are faced with a problem or challenge, the first thing we usually do is turn on our intellectual knowing ( the recording device). It may play back to us many interesting bits of knowledge about this new challenge, but that knowledge is limited to our experiences to date. In that scenario we aren’t applying effort to change anything. That approach blocks our creativity –– the most effective aspect of our natural problem-solving intelligence.

So, let’s say we choose to apply our intellectual problem solving intelligence. In that case, we start by inquiring into the nature of the challenge. We explore it without prejudging it. Gradually we begin to notice things. As we gather data from our exploration, we then can apply reason and logic to arrive at a possible solution.

Now let’s see how our true, innate intelligence solves the problem of “not trusting yourself.”

14 Steps to Demolishing a Lack of Self-trust

1. In order to not trust yourself (or anyone or anything else) first “you” or “they” have to be a perceived object. There has to be something there in your awareness to trust or distrust.

2. Regarding yourself, you can’t be both the perceiver and the perceived at the same time. For example, your tongue can’t taste itself, and your eyes can’t see themselves. So you can’t actually think about yourself, but you can think about your opinions about yourself and about whatever you regard to be your past failures and disappointments. The first insight, therefore, is that you can’t think about yourself; you can only think about ideas of yourself and previous actions.

3. The next key insight that comes from our inquiry is that what we perceive has no inherent value or meaning until we give it the meaning it has for us. Red is neither pretty nor ugly. Eggs are neither good nor bad until someone judges them to be so. I may like red, you may hate red. I may like eating eggs, you may hate eating eggs. The color red and the eggs have no inherent good or bad value in themselves. The inherent value would have to be the same for everyone. In that case, everyone would love the color red and eating eggs. And then, I suppose, that would mean everyone would love eating red eggs!

4. Now here’s the really fun part! Applying logic and reason. If what you perceive only has the meaning you give it, then it also follows that you instantly trust the meaning you give to your perceptions. This phenomenon of instant trust, which is largely learned through repeated experiences from our childhood, gives us the impression that our world is solid, stable, and reliable in so many familiar respects that we simply take for granted.

5. We tend to lose the awareness that, in so many ways, our sense of the world’s fundamental reliability is based on our trust in our own judgment. For example, we judge that, as we place one foot and then the other on the ground, gravity will hold us up as we walk along. And that’s just the beginning. We are trusting ourselves in a million different ways, all day long, every day.

6. We can logically conclude that the strength of your belief (that you can’t trust yourself) is no exception to this rule. Lack of self-trust is ALSO the result of trusting yourself. In this case, you are trusting yourself to make a correct assessment of yourself –– that you can’t be trusted.

7. Therefore we must conclude that you can ONLY trust yourself and that, indeed, you ARE trusting yourself, moment by moment, all the time. Otherwise, you couldn’t even walk across the room or use the bathroom or feed yourself. If you feel uncertain and you hesitate about a choice you want to make, you are trusting your own conclusion that it’s best to hesitate. You have so much self-trust! Even when you’re in a state of fear and indecision, you are never distrusting yourself!

8. The belief that you are unworthy or not good enough only has the power you place in it –– because you trust yourself to conclude that these are true statements.

9. Through this logical intellectual reasoning, we expose the false problem: The statement “I can’t trust myself” has been sapping your strength and distracting you from the real problem at hand: ARE you really unworthy? ARE you really not good enough?

10. Well, now that you know you are trusting your own conclusion to believe these disheartening propositions, you only have one choice in the matter: You can only distrust yourself if you trust your personal choice to not trust yourself. Isn’t that amazing? I told you this would be the fun part!

11. Recognizing that not trusting yourself is a non-issue, now you can apply inquiry, logic, and reasoning to good effect. No fighting, no struggling. No more holding back or surrendering to discouragement due to believing the fiction that you don’t trust yourself.

12. You respectfully smile at the proposition that you are unworthy and not good enough. You say, “That may be so, but it’s only fair that you show me the evidence that proves these assertions . . .  before I believe them and feel bad about myself.”

13. Practice this simple method for yourself and see how it goes. Remember:  no struggle, no fighting. Be willing to agree to even negative proposals, but only if and when actual evidence is produced. Until then, remain calm and happy with yourself. Examine the proposed evidence that may be presented to you with inquiry, logic and reasoning. When you do this, you are activating your true, innate intelligence.

14. Lastly, take a playful approach to this! Be willing to have fun with it. And then notice what happens.