What is Self-Trust? Why is it so Hard? And Ways to Build It


The topic of trust comes up in a variety of forms in therapy. Often in questions surrounding why it is so hard, where it stems from, and how to build trust in ourselves or others. 

We may have awareness regarding what it feels like to lack trust or can point out moments when we do not trust ourselves. This moment of awareness gives way to choosing, which allows us to choose something different and feel into the moments or hope of what it could look like to trust ourselves and others. We can allow time and space to heal the parts of us that do not yet know how trust can feel.

Let’s start by asking, why is it so hard to trust ourselves?

There are many answers to this question, but here are a few reasons why it can be so hard.


As in being in situations or experiencing moments that felt and were out of control. Issues of trust in ourselves and others can develop from unsafe experiences and cause mental, physical, and emotional pain where we can learn to doubt that we can keep ourselves safe now.

You dwell on past mistakes or are criticized constantly by others.

If you grew up in a household where criticism was frequent or was in a relationship met with harsh reactions, you might have developed a lack of trust in yourself to make decisions, interact with others, or keep yourself safe. On the other hand, if you internalized the criticism or created the defense mechanism of perfectionism to keep yourself safe, you may have become your own harshest critic. Often unfair and unattainable.

Another form of this is not learning that you can do things. If you had parents who would swoop in to resolve your problems, you might notice now that you feel helpless when making decisions or facing challenges. It can become too overwhelming.

Pressure to act, believe and be a certain way.

Whether from society, family, friends, or community, being in a feedback loop that you should be a certain way can lead to feeling uncomfortable when you try fully expressing or learning who you are. 

You spend too much time worrying about the future.

When we find ourselves in a cycle of anxious thoughts, uncertainty, or preparing for the future, we may doubt that we have the abilities, strength, or confidence to respond to whatever the future brings.

So, what exactly is self-trust?

Self-Trust is the act of being connected to your needs, wants, and desires. It is practicing to take care of yourself by taking care of your needs and safety while holding continued love, compassion, and perspective-taking. Self-trust is the belief that you can survive and overcome difficulties. You have the tools, resources, and abilities now as an adult.

Self-Trust is the balance between the healthy feminine (connecting to needs, wants, and desires) and the healthy masculine (being clear and non-negotiable).

How do I build self-trust?

Start by exploring, writing down, or noting your needs, wants, and desires: what is important to you. Then connect those with choices you can make to continue to honor and attune to those, which can be through self-care, saying no and setting boundaries, practicing self-compassion and grace for yourself. While consistently having the inner reminder that you can keep yourself safe, secure, and valued.

Other ways to build self-trust are to spend time with yourself. Get to know what you like and do not like. What interests you, aligns with who you are now, and where you want to go? Additionally, practicing to make decisions. Start small and build upon it. You can practice this by noticing and following gut feelings in moments of decision. Make a choice when you feel the ping of knowing, and if it doesn’t align, learn from it (as it is information) rather than guilting or shaming yourself. The self-trust cycle will continue to be difficult if you allow your body and mind to stay in the criticism loop. Reframe those thoughts with the mindset that you are learning – what you like, do not like, and are getting to know yourself.¬†

Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW