Why Trust Is Your #1 Secret to Success & How To Earn It

Last week I spent a lot of time with clients and students. Guess what kept coming up?


Maybe not overtly, often times it was hidden underneath how to let a difficult customer go, or how to know when is right to hire more assistance, or even, how to know it’s time to quit your full time job to go full time in your business. I even had one client ask me when it’s time to quit your business and look for a job.

I can totally relate. Trust starts with self-trust. If you don’t trust yourself, it’s pretty impossible to trust anyone else.

I used to think that if it were all up to me, you’d find me on a beach in Costa Rica with an oversized margarita, smoking something else that was oversized, with zero ambition or desires.

Turns out, when I put myself in a similar situation (aka New Orleans), I'm actually very happy to work damn hard, get the job done, be uber responsible (even when that attitude was culturally frowned upon) and actually didn’t partake in either activity (although both were de rigueur).

Turns out I do trust myself. And ya know what, that feels great. It’s confidence. It’s risk taking. It’s intuition. It’s connection. And it all boils down to a few realizations.

When I look back on every single choice, decision, reaction, opportunity/challenge - I made it work. 20/20 hindsight literally means, it all looks perfect reflecting back on to the chain of events. Now, I have some hippie-woo-woo perspectives on this as well, but let’s keep this blog logical. This reflection led me to the conclusion that no matter what happens I will also make that work. No point in second guessing, ruminating, or worrying - because not only are those activities a waste of energy, they accomplish nothing.

I make things work. So far, I’ve made EVERYTHING work.

Even the reckless, stupid, probably-wouldn’t-do-that-again or really-hope-I-don’t-have-to experiences. It all worked. Now, in a new situation, when I feel that self-doubt creep into the periphery, and things get a little shaky, I think to myself, “Here we go again, and we’re pretty good at this,” even if I have never done “this” before. I trust myself to make it work because that is what I do.

As Brené Brown described, a crucial element of trust is integrity

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values, not just professing your values.”

Say that ten times fast, practice integrity consistently, and you’ll trust yourself with anything.

Don't Trust Yourself?

This might be the first time you’ve really thought about if you trust yourself. Maybe this concept feels more like like distrusting others, playing it safe, opting out of the questionable experiences, letting someone else take the lead, not speaking up, regret, or simply wishing you could do something over again.

You may have a long list of things you “failed at,” and that’s PROOF that you're not trust worthy. Maybe you have a long list of times others have let you down, things you tried that didn’t work out, habits you can’t seem to kick, and the list goes on.

This “evidence,” these reflections, and this thought process makes it a lot easier to give-up, to let our selves down, and to quit before we even get started.

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re also well acquainted with that little voice in your head that says, “Stop! Don’t! Slow your roll!” There may even be a meaner voice telling you “you’re not smart enough, you’ve never accomplished anything, you’re too old/fat/ugly/lazy/ ... ,” and honestly (as long as no one is looking), you just sit back down and breathe a sigh of relief.

We’ve tried many things in our lives, some worked, some didn’t. The lessons learned from both tend to influence how we try again. If we’re well practiced in, “well that was dumb ya big dummy don’t be dumb and try something dumb like that dumb thing again,” we likely won’t be up for much growth or improvement.

Sure, I exaggerated that ... a bit, but I trust (pun intended) that you’ve failed at something and either been kind to yourself and offered yourself a bit of grace and guidance, and then you tried again OR you beat the shit out of yourself, berated the ridiculous attempt, and never ever tried again.

Which voice do you want to listen to, especially when distilled into pretty ridiculous extremes?

Lack of trust limits your experiences in life, it prevents true connection and intimacy in relationships, it degrades collaboration and growth in professional scenarios, it contains what could be limitless creativity and inspiration, and it holds you back from experiencing life at it’s fullest.

Distrust also keeps you safe, small, unhurt, and protected from all the unknowns.

When practiced, distrust can become second nature, but when challenged and confronted, distrust can flip the switch - you can learn to trust yourself, trust others, and trust your experience to grow and expand.

How Do You Build Trust In Yourself

Building trust is a practice. Some of us have experienced significant trauma, some of us grew up in a place where trust was a matter of survival, some of us learned the hard way that trusting others, or ourselves, leads to extreme pain and detriment.

If you wish to keep experiencing these realties, well, you’re probably not reading this blog, and if you are, stop now.

But, if you are reading this, you’ve done alright, and you are well on your way to mastering self-trust. Self-trust starts with simple survival. So bravo, you did it.

Here’s some steps to regain trust in yourself and the world around you.

  1. Forgive yourself. Yes! You did it. It’s done. You can’t take it back. And then … What if you truly did what you could in the moment knowing and having everything available to you at that time. Yes, with 20 / 20 hindsight you wouldn’t do it again. Sure, you may have even known with every step forward “this is a mistake,” but you did it anyway, and for good reason. It was all you could do in the moment. What would it take to let yourself off the hook? Can you sit back, and look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I get it. You did what you could. You survived. I forgive you.”

  2. Failure is normal, and all the mean shit you say to yourself as a result is making you fail MORE. Yes, I said it! You are the reason you are failing. Ouch, harsh right?! You tell me?! You’re the one who keeps saying the mean shit to yourself! What if failure is totally normal, a part of life, and you actually have to fail in order to get everything you dream of? What if failure is AWESOME! What if you could tell yourself, “Great job fucking that up! You have SO much opportunity to improve. When can we try again?” Yes when this applies to a marriage, or felony, or severe injury you need to physically and emotionally heal. But get ready to pat yourself on the back. Failure is the first step to success.

  3. Life is full of opportunities. Sure, they look like challenges, mistakes, pain, suffering, heartbreak, regret or whatever negative descriptor you choose. But once you take off the scary costumes, they’re just pudgy, lovable experiences you can dress up however serves you best. If we’re all just doing our best, if we’re simply trying to give ourselves what we need, how can you transform every shitty, uncomfortable, hard, even painful time, into an opportunity? It may look like loving yourself a little bit harder and giving yourself some space to heal, with no time limits or expectations (and definitely no comparing to others). It might look like dragging your pudgy ass out of bed at an incredibly painful hour in the morning for an even more painful workout with a badass playlist and borderline grimace of a smile on your face, because you're focused on the pure joy you’ll feel when you hit the beach on your upcoming holiday. Your choice: is it pain and suffering, or is this the ultimate opportunity (because you’ve always made it work out, and this is just another chance to prove yourself).

  4. Keep your promises.

I'm about to go off on a tangent, I hope you enjoy …

When I was a little girl, I could remember the grown-ups telling me one thing and doing another. In my limited understanding, but growing awareness, I decided they were liars. And how can you believe a liar? I vowed there and then to never do such a thing, because then no one could believe me if I lied!

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in Psychology 101 (or some such freshmen class in college). My professor described this phenomenon, when human experience is substituted by the anticipation and discussion of an event. This is why goal planning is great, training for marathons is half the fun, and holidays are crucial. We need to anticipate joy as much as experience it.

Thing is, when we don’t trust ourselves, we substitute the anticipation for the experience.

When we don’t trust ourselves, we say we’re going to do something, and we never do it.


That said, this happens often enough, so I taught myself to reframe my own experience.

When I commit to something (i.e. say it out loud), it’s happening. I may end up all on my lonesome, because a lot of people substitute the thought or discussion for action.

In fact, people avoid making plans with me because they’re held to a level of accountability that is apparently abnormal?!

Ok, rant over - this one really irks me. I think that’s obvious now. If you constantly say you’re going to … and then you don't, stop it. Just stop.

Start with one easy commitment. "This week I am going to mow the lawn." Then do it. And celebrate. Next week commit to mowing the lawn + calling your Dad to say “I love you.” So on and so forth.

This is the true practice of learning to trust, stay true to you.

Look, things get crazy, I am not suggesting this will be easy. It is simple. Trust sets you up for success. Practicing the elements of trust will grow your trust across all experiences.

*** pizza parties are my #2 for earning trust 😬

3 Simpler Ways To Learn To Trust

Recognize there will be dips, dives, and crashes. It will take extra effort to get through. No judgement. Capture and release the shitty thoughts that pop up when your commitment falters .

I like to text myself as the discouraging thoughts show up through out the day, then journal them at night. I write down the negative, judgmental, discouraging, “I can’t …” and “I am not …” thoughts.

Try to learn how you like to get through the muck. Call a friend. Yoga and mantras. A grueling workout focused on positive thoughts. Get outside. Whatever tickles your pickle.

Get your tools in your belt, and use them when your practice weakens or life shows up and tries to kick your ass.

Confidence is about learning to trust yourself

Turns out there’s a ton of research about trust. No surprise, as it is a crucial part of our fulfillment, joy, love, connection, success, and overall life experience.

Someone much better known that I distilled the elements of trust into 7 parts. By committing to these values, you create trust in yourself, in your relationships, and in your life.

Did you know ASKING for help is one of the best ways to create and build trust? Me neither. Here are a few more tips, or just watch the video below.

Trust Is Earned.

Brené Brown proposed BRAVING as her strategy for growing and maintaining trust.

Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement and Generosity.

Honor your own boundaries around space and safety, be reliable and consistent with your words and commitments, hold yourself accountable first and acknowledge when something has gone differently than expected, remain a vault by disallowing hurtful thoughts or words, honor your values and maintain integrity, and importantly, practice non-judgement because not much actually goes according to plan and this is normal.

Lean into compassion and try to see the love in everything by focusing on generosity to navigate us through even the most uncomfortable times.

When you learn to trust yourself, you can trust your imminent success.

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