Why We All Need Self-Trust and How To Build It

In a world saturated with filters, algorithms, and unending external influences, the quest for authenticity has never been more profound. Amidst the whirlwind of societal expectations and digital perfection, how do we anchor ourselves in genuine self-trust? While women are pioneering change, breaking barriers, and redefining norms, we also grapple with unique challenges of self-doubt shaped by an ever-evolving landscape.

As a holistic therapist I’ve journeyed alongside countless women seeking to find their inner compass. In this post, we’ll delve into 13 actionable practices to help you build a solid foundation of self-trust. Let’s dive in.

What Does It Mean to Trust in Yourself?

Self-trust refers to a deeply rooted belief in your own reliability, abilities, and inner truth. It’s the conviction that you can handle life’s challenges, make sound judgments, and rely on yourself in various situations. When we trust ourselves, we feel grounded and confident in our decisions, even in the face of doubts, challenges or setbacks. Below I am diving into some key elements of self trust:

Confidence in Abilities: This means believing in your skills and ability to handle situations effectively, even if they are new or challenging.

Reliability: You follow through on your commitments to yourself and others. Honoring your commitments to yourself is a huge component of self-trust.

Emotional Resilience: This is about trusting that you can handle a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative, knowing that no matter what you will be ok.

Intuitive Decision-Making: Trusting that you have the wisdom and insight to make decisions that are right for you, even if they might not make sense to others.

Understanding Your Limits: Recognizing and honoring when you need help or when it’s time to take a step back.

Alignment with Values: This is about making decisions and acting in ways that are consistent with your core values and beliefs. If you’re unsure of your values, here’s an amazing free resource that I share with many of my clients to help you identify what’s most important to you.

Accountability: Taking responsibility for your actions, learning from your mistakes, and being honest with yourself.

People who lack self-trust often second-guess their decisions, seek external validation, and may feel lost or overwhelmed when faced with challenges. Building self-trust is fundamental to getting comfortable in your own skin, improving mental well-being, developing healthy relationships and so much more.

Why is it Important to Trust Yourself?

Trust is a necessary component in any healthy relationship. Yet, we often overlook the importance of cultivating trust within ourselves. Self-trust is more than just having confidence in your abilities; it’s about knowing yourself well enough to make decisions that align with your values and most authentic self.

As a therapist, I often find that a lack of self-trust contributes to many of the issues that bring people to therapy. Anxiety, indecisiveness, and relationship problems often have their roots in a disconnect between your actions and values. This disconnect slowly erodes self-trust over time. Here are some of the ways that trusting yourself impacts:

Decision-Making Confidence

Every day we are faced with numerous decisions, both large and small. From choosing a career path to deciding what to have for dinner, these choices shape our life. When you trust yourself, these decisions become easier. You can make decisions with greater confidence and less anxiety, knowing that you’re making decisions aligned with your values. When we do this, we trust that we can handle any consequences that might arise out of the decisions we make.

Alignment With Values

Self-trust is closely related to integrity, which means aligning your behavior with your values and beliefs. When you trust yourself, you are more likely to act in alignment with your values. This can lead to a deeper sense of self and makes it easier to navigate life’s complexities.

Emotional Resilience

This is a big one when it comes to trusting yourself. Life is full of ups and downs. Trusting yourself enhances emotional resilience, empowering you to navigate challenges and setbacks more effectively. It allows you to trust in your ability to handle stress, resolve problems, and come out stronger on the other side.

Quality of Relationships

The trust you place in yourself often mirrors the trust you place in others. If you trust yourself, you’re more likely to form relationships built on mutual trust and respect. This creates a positive feedback loop: trusting others often leads to more experiences that reinforce your ability to trust yourself.

Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

Trusting yourself serves as a foundation for taking calculated risks and venturing into the unknown, both of which are essential for personal growth and self-discovery. A lack of self confidence and trust, on the other hand, can leave you stuck in your comfort zone and limit your potential.

Improved Mental Health

Chronic self-doubt can lead to heightened stress levels, rumination, anxiety, and even depression. Learning to trust yourself can alleviate these symptoms by promoting a more balanced, positive approach to life’s challenges.

Enhances Coping Mechanisms

When you trust yourself, you are more likely to take a proactive approach to solving problems rather than adopting avoidant or maladpative behaviors. This leads to developing more healthy coping mechanisms over time.

Empowerment and Autonomy

Self-trust is empowering. It enables you to live life on your terms, enhancing your autonomy. Knowing that you can rely on yourself provides a sense of freedom and control that is always with you, even in challenging situations.

Reasons you Might Not Trust Yourself

Low self trust is common in a lot of the people that I work with. Below I am sharing some of the reasons why you might struggle with trusting yourself. Each person’s situation will be unique, but here are some common underlying reasons:

Childhood Experiences: Children learn to trust themselves within the context of their primary relationships. If caregivers are inconsistent, dismissive, or even abusive, this can plant seeds of self-doubt and lead to issues with self-trust later in life. This can also result when parents say no to children without giving an explanation.

Perfectionism: The pursuit of perfection often goes hand in hand with a lack of self-trust. Perfectionists may also feel insecure and that any mistake is a reflection of their incompetence, leading them to doubt their abilities and judgments even more.

Fear of Failure: If you’ve experienced significant failures or setbacks, you may become hesitant to trust your decision-making skills. This fear can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the lack of trust in yourself actually contributes to more mistakes or failures. This can be true even if you haven’t experienced significant failures or set-backs.

Low Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: Poor self-esteem and self confidence often results in self-doubt and a lack of trust in our own abilities and judgments. If you don’t view yourself as competent and worthy, you’re less likely to trust yourself.

Past Trauma: Traumatic experiences can shatter your sense of safety and trust, not just in others but also in yourself. Survivors of trauma may struggle with trusting their own perceptions and judgments, which can lead to feelings of disempowerment.

Anxiety Disorders: Conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder can create persistent doubt and second-guessing, undermining self-trust.

Emotional Instability: People who experience significant emotional swings often find it challenging to maintain a consistent sense of self, leading to difficulties in trusting their own feelings, thoughts, or actions.

Cognitive Distortions: Negative thought patterns such as black-and-white thinking, catastrophizing, or personalization can distort your perception of reality, leading you to mistrust your own judgments.

External Locus of Control: If you believe that external factors (such as luck or even other people’s opinions and actions) determine the course of your life more than your own efforts and decisions, you may find it difficult to trust yourself.

Fear of Judgment: Concerns about what others think can inhibit self-trust. If you’re overly preoccupied with seeking validation from outside sources, you may ignore your intuition and second-guess yourself, undermining your ability to trust your own decisions.

Social and Cultural Factors: Cultural norms and societal pressures can impact self-trust. In some cases, individuals may be conditioned to mistrust their instincts or desires because they conflict with societal expectations or family beliefs.

Overdependence on Others: If you’ve become accustomed to relying on others for decision-making or validation, you might find it challenging to trust yourself when you’re alone or when making independent choices.

So How Do We Go About Building Self-Trust?

Now that we know why trusting yourself is important, how do we build self trust? There are a couple of things, I find helpful when you want to learn how to trust yourself. Below I’m sharing some of the steps that can be helpful:

1. Understand Your Values and Goals

One of the first steps in building self-trust is understanding what drives you—your values, passions, and goals. In order to build self trust you need to know who you are and what you stand for. Getting clear on your values can vastly improve physical and mental health, help you gain confidence and learn to let go of negative self talk and doubt.

Exercise 1: Value Mapping

  • Step 1: Take a piece of paper and write down the things that are most important to you in life. These could be attributes like honesty, compassion, or ambition, or more concrete things like family or career growth.

  • Step 2: Prioritize these values from most to least important.

  • Step 3: Reflect on how well your current life aligns with these values. Are you compromising any of them? If so, how can you make changes that bring you closer to these core values?

  • Pro-tip, if you’re unsure what values are, check out this website and print them out to do the above activity.

2. Develop Emotional Intelligence: Listen to Your Inner Voice

The voice inside your head, your intuition, is an excellent gauge for what’s right or wrong for you. Listening to this inner voice and understanding your emotional reactions can go a long way in building self-trust. I have an amazing free resource the helps with reframing negative self talk and identifying emotions that you can use to help you with the below practice.

Exercise 2: Emotional Journaling

  • Take some time to sit with yourself

  • Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed

  • Placing your hands on your heart, close your eyes (if that feels comfortable) and take a take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now in this moment? What were some of the emotions that I experienced today? Am I aware of what triggered these feelings?

  • Once you’ve done this, take a second to write it down.

  • Explore why that specific event or situation elicited such a reaction from you.

  • Use this information to understand patterns in your emotional responses, thus better understanding your needs, likes, and dislikes.

3. Building Consistency: Say What You’ll Do and Do What You Say

Consistency between your words and actions is vital when it comes to learning to trust yourself. When you say you’ll do something and follow through, you send a powerful message to yourself that you are reliable.

Exercise 3: Small Promises, Big Wins

  • Step 1: Make a small promise to yourself, like going for a 15-minute walk 2 days this week or cooking dinner at home at least three times a week.

  • Step 2: Keep a log of each time you successfully honor this promise to yourself.

  • Step 3: Reflect on how keeping these small promises makes you feel about trusting yourself.

4. Learn From Mistakes: Build Resilience

Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable but are also valuable learning experiences. Your relationship with failure can heavily influence your confidence and self-trust.

Exercise 4: The Mistake Ledger

  • Step 1: Write down a mistake you made recently.

  • Step 2: Instead of chastising yourself, list what you learned from it.

  • Step 3: Next time you face a similar situation, apply what you’ve learned and make a different choice.

5. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat Yourself Like a Friend

We often extend kindness and understanding to friends and loved ones when they make mistakes or face challenges, yet deny ourselves the same compassion.

Exercise 5: The Self-Compassion Letter

  • Step 1: Think about a situation where you feel you failed or could have done better.

  • Step 2: Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of a compassionate friend.

  • Step 3: Read this letter to yourself whenever you’re being overly critical or questioning your self-trust.

6. Use the TRUST Model

People who don’t trust themselves can sometimes have a difficult time being honest with themselves. Lying to yourself, bullying yourself, ignoring important information — does any of this sound familiar?

Inspired by Judith E. Glaser’s work on Conversational Intelligence, I often use this Model for Trust to push beyond self-doubt. It’s designed for building healthy, productive conversation skills with others, but this model also works for conversing with yourself.

Exercise 6: Journal or Talk Through the TRUST Model

When you don’t trust yourself to make a decision, own your power, or do what’s best, talk yourself through it or journal your way through this list and identify where you need to be more honest, respectful, and understanding of yourself.


  • Be willing to be Transparent

  • Tell the “why” behind the “what”

  • Share versus withhold

  • calming fear versus causing it


  • Assume the best

  • Use honorable language and actions

Understand (Stand under)

  • Listen to the reality of another

  • Step under their umbrella of reality

  • Look with an open heart

Shared success

  • Co-create win/win/win scenarios

  • Strategize for mutual success

Test Assumptions

  • Tell the truth

  • Close reality gaps

  • Listen to close such gaps

  • Avoid making stuff up

7. Self-Awareness: Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing where you excel and where you need improvement can bolster your self confidence and help you make informed choices.

  • Exercise 7: Make a List of Your Strengths and Weaknesses

    • Step 1: Sit down with a pen and paper and make a column for strengths and weaknesses.

    • Step 2: Spend some time thinking about your life, what have you always been good at or struggled with. Start adding them to their appropriate columns. If you get stuck, you can always ask some TRUSTED loved ones what they think your strengths and weaknesses are.

    • Step 3: Be objective and non-judgmental as you reflect on these. All of this is good information in helping you build trust in yourself and build self confidence.

8. Set Achievable Goals

Achievable goal setting is an essential skill to develop for building a sense of trust with yourself. Setting goals that are realistic yet challenging can boost motivation, self-efficacy, and overall satisfaction.

  • Start small: Setting and achieving small goals can build your confidence and help you trust your capabilities.

  • Gradually work your way up: As you become more confident, set bigger, more challenging goals. This creates a positive feedback loop, further reinforcing self-trust.

  • Exercise 8: Try Setting an Achievable Goal

    • Step 1: Think about a change in your life you have been wanting to make.

    • Step 2: Write down a goal written in a positive frame of thought. For example, I will go for a walk 2 days a week. (remember to start small is that it is attainable)

    • Step 3: Identify any obstacles that might get in the way of you achieving this goal and proactively problem solve.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Building self-trust is deeply intertwined with self-awareness and understanding your own thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can act as a bridge to this understanding, helping you to connect with your inner selves in an authentic manner. Here’s a mindfulness exercise designed to nurture self-trust:

  • Exercise 9: Mindfulness Exercise for Self-Trust Building:

    • Find a Quiet Space: Choose a place where you won’t be disturbed. Find a comfortable seat and close the eyes if that feels safe and comfortable.

    • Focused Breathing: Turn your attention to your breath. Notice the air entering your nostrils, filling your lungs, and leaving your body. Do this for a few minutes to anchor yourself in the present moment.

    • Reflect on Past Achievements: Bring to mind a time when you kept a promise to yourself or achieved a personal goal. Notice the feelings associated with this memory. Perhaps a sense of pride, happiness, or satisfaction.

    • Visualize Trust: Imagine a radiant light at the center of your chest, symbolizing trust and confidence.

    • With every inhalation, visualize this light growing brighter and with every exhalation, see it expanding, enveloping your entire being.

Regularly practicing these mindfulness exercise can deepen your relationship with yourself, fostering a solid foundation of self-trust. Over time, you’ll find that this trust spills over into various aspects of life, enhancing decision-making, relationships, and overall well-being.

10. Maintain Healthy Personal Boundaries

Learn to say no. Setting boundaries is an act of self-respect and trust. It tells you that your needs and well-being are important. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes. Doing so is an affirmation that you can take care of yourself.

11. Evaluate and Adjust

  • Regular check-ins: Take time regularly to evaluate how you’re doing on your self-trust journey. Celebrate your wins and adjust where necessary.

  • Be flexible: Self-trust isn’t about being rigid or infallible; it’s about having the adaptability to reassess and adjust your approach when needed.

12. Practice Self-Care

When we feel burnt out and are overwhelmed by life, it can be really challenging to trust yourself. Taking some time to prioritize self-care and check in with your own needs and how you’re doing emotionally is an amazing way to support your physical and mental health. It also helps you prioritize spending quality time with yourself which helps connect you to your inner wisdom.

13. Seek Professional Help

If you find it particularly challenging to trust yourself, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you explore underlying issues and provide targeted strategies to build self-trust.


Arielle Pinkston, Therapist for graduate students in California sitting on counter drinking tea
Therapist for young adults, Arielle Pinkston

As we journey through life, the one constant companion we have is ourselves. In the tapestry of experiences, decisions, successes, and challenges, the thread of self-trust weaves its way as a crucial lifeline. Trusting yourself is not just about boosting self confidence or ensuring effective decision-making; it’s the foundation upon which our mental health, relationships, and personal growth rests.

In an ever-changing world full of external influences, opinions, and pressures, our internal compass – our trust in ourselves – remains our most honest guide. By nurturing this trust, we empower ourselves to live authentically, embrace life’s uncertainties, and flourish in our unique journey. Every step taken in building self-trust is a step closer to a life lived with purpose, clarity, and unwavering belief in our own potential.

Remember, the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life. Building self-trust is a lifelong process, that requires regular introspection, learning, and growth. But with these tools and exercises, you can start to build a stronger relationship with yourself—one where you can depend on you.

Feel free to revisit these exercises and adapt them to own needs as you go along on this exciting journey towards self-trust. If you’re still struggling with self-trust and it’s negatively impacting your mental health. I offer virtual therapy to women throughout the state of California. You can learn more about me here. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, I hope you found it helpful!

That's So Well Therapist Arielle

It's me, Arielle!

Holistic Therapist, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Yoga Instructor in Elk Grove, California.

You may also like...