If I am Supposed to Trust Myself AND Sometimes Thoughts and Feelings are Not True–Then What?
This series of posts started with exploring how important it is to trust ourselves, but I included an asterisk in the title. The next two posts were exploring that asterisk–looking at how sometimes thoughts are not truth and sometimes feelings are not truth. I realized, as I wrote those three posts that they might feel a little confusing. This series of posts illustrates one of the major issues that I explore with people in therapy:
This can be a challenging thing to get comfortable with. We really would like things to be simple and clear. Our brains want things to be simple and clear (which is a little ironic since it is our brains that come up with the thoughts and feelings that aren’t always true). At the same time, a reality of human life is that there are lots of contradictions, ambiguities, and shades of grey.
So these three things are true:
- We are all learning to develop the skill of trusting ourselves.
- Sometimes our thoughts are good information and sometimes they are just noise.
- Sometimes our feelings are good information and sometimes they are confusion.
I can almost hear the crickets chirping now–since I’m asking you to juggle these true and contradictory things.
So Then What?
When I am working with my clients, we really dig into these issues. The reality of things being true and contradictory comes up inside of ourselves, in our relationships, and in our external lives.
Let me start by saying that the process of learning to trust yourself is an ongoing one. We don’t have a clear finish line we can cross, where on one side we struggle with trust, and on the other we get a medal engraved with “Trusts Self.” Instead, we master some skills, face new challenges, and continually renegotiate what trusting ourselves means.
I tend to think about this process in terms of building a toolkit. As you start to build your toolkit, you will need:
- Willingness to learn and grow.
- The ability to tolerate some uncertainty.
- A healthy dose of compassion for the bumps along the way.
- A sense of curiosity about yourself and how you work
- Willingness to experiment with tools to find what fits for you.
Some Basic Tools:
If you are familiar with the blog, you will know that I tend to point out basic tools for building trust and relationship with yourself in my Self-Care 101 posts. I also share tools such as mindfulness strategies or other coping suggestions in my roundups of other posts. I will write more about this in future posts, but here is a quick review of some of foundations of a solid toolkit:
- A journal or some other way of recording thoughts and feelings so that you can assess them
- Regular time by yourself. This might be meditating or taking a walk without headphones.
- Commitment to focus on self-care and growth. We trust ourselves when we earn that trust. That includes being active in our own care.
I’d love to hear what you think. What tools are essential in your kit?