Building Self-Trust

Maintaining a good relationship with yourself is no different than maintaining a good relationship with a partner, a friend, or a family member. All relationships take time, effort, and good communication. Could it be that you have lost communication with yourself? Poor communication with yourself can lead to the perception that you have abandoned yourself. It can lead to a distorted perception of other relationships in your life. Consider the following suggestions to build your self-trust.

  1. Regular communication/Stay in touch with yourself.
    1. We talk to ourselves all day. What are you saying to yourself? When do you talk to yourself most? What percentage of your self-talk is positive/negative? When are you most negative/positive?
    2. Who is your critic? Disarm your critic.
  2. Active listening/Feeling/Increased awareness.
    1. Take the time to listen to yourself and your body, hear/feel what is going on.
    2. Don't jump to conclusions.
    3. Know that what you feel may or may not be accurate, you may need to process it further.
    4. Try to learn when you are distorting.
    5. Learn about your peek performance times/low performance times.
    6. Learn to say "No".
    7. Positive self-reflection: lets you know you care, are interested in yourself, and are accurately understanding yourself.
  3. Spend time with yourself: self-care, positive reward time. Give yourself simple pleasures daily.
  4. Work out problems/develop solutions.
    1. Clearly define the problem.
    2. Design a plan or several options.
    3. Obtain assistance from others. Don't reinvent the wheel. Be aware of things you can and can't change.
    4. Implement the plan. Try to remain flexible.
    5. Evaluate the outcome. Learn from your mistakes.
  5. Don't give up when things go wrong. Make a commitment to the relationship you have with yourself.
  6. Self-Respect - there are different kinds of self-respect:
    1. Respect for your values. What are they?Respect for your skills. What are they?
    2. Respect for your hobbies and interests. What are they?
    3. Respect for the different types of relationships you have in your life: family, work, school, friends, acquaintances.
    4. How does one develop self-respect? Just like you gain respect with friends:
      1. Listen.
      2. Do not judge.
      3. Respect each others differences, not use them against each other.
      4. Be willing to compromise.
      5. Be willing to explore issues without feeling threatened and fear of retaliation.
      6. Engage in positive problem solving.
      7. Deal with issues as they arise.
      8. Do not harbor grudges from the past.
  7. Unconditional understanding/support.
    1. No matter what, there is the love and respect of self at your core. This is based upon past self-trust.
  8. Understanding and acceptance of how you are different than others.
    1. See "Self-Esteem/Virginia Satir" handout.
    2. This ties back into your acceptance of your values, skills, and accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
  9. Learn from mistakes . . . . . .it's called growth.
    1. Just because it went wrong before, does not mean it will go wrong again.
    2. If it does go wrong again, how would you do it differently next time and learn from it? Consider the "Flat Tire" approach to problems. And, "When life hands you a stumbling block, use it as a stepping stone." See "Autobiography in Five Chapters" handout.
  10. Appreciation of self.
    1. List your successes: small successes count too!
    2. Write an appreciation list: things for which you are thankful.
    3. Develop a self-esteem list: Things you like about yourself.
  11. Self-Honesty.
    1. Could you be in denial about certain issues? Does you lack of self-honestly sabotage you? Consider a reality check by talking to a counselor or trusted friend.
  12. Be trustworthy.
    1. Keep your word to yourself.
    2. Follow-through.
  13. Help yourself out in a time of need.
    1. Give yourself reassuring words.
    2. Don't abandon yourself in a time of need. You wouldn't abandon a close friend!
  14. The ability to receive from yourself.
    1. Within relationships, when one is always receiving and the other is always giving - someone will eventually feel cheated. In healthy relationships, people work together. The same is true with ourselves.
  15. See yourself from another perspective.
    1. Give yourself appropriate empathy.
    2. Do you treat yourself with the same care as you treat your closest friend?
    3. We teach others how to treat us. How do you treat yourself?
  16. Weather the tough times. Learn from them.
    1. Write down how you made it through a difficult time and use it as a reference when times are tough in the future.
  17. Awareness of trouble spots and learning how to work through them.
    1. Sometimes, conflict is the price you must pay for deepening the intimacy in a relationship, the same is true with your relationship with yourself.
  18. Understanding that a good relationship with yourself takes work and time commitment.
  19. Have patience/Set realistic goals/Don't expect change over night.
    1. Don't set your goals too high. You may end up on overload and teach yourself that you always fail. Have a systematic plan that is broken into manageable pieces. What expectations do you have of yourself? Are they realistic? Do you need to rewrite the rules by which you live?
    2. Just like with house cleaning . . .it's too much to clean the whole house in one day. Pick a room, pick a closet, and select a section of the closet to clean. Do a little bit each day. Go from room to room.
  20. Love: there are many types of love. The word love and how you are using it may need to be defined. What are the types of love you have for yourself?
  21. Clarify your values. Update them . . . . . they change.
  22. Be willing to take risks. Build self-trust by starting with low-level risks and building upon successes.
  23. Increase your sources of positive strokes:
    1. Expand your social network.
    2. Spend time with people who are reinforcing.
    3. Observe others and find out how they do it.
    4. Try new things.
  24. Remember that only you are in charge and control of how you feel.


Burns, D. (1992). Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. New York: Harper Collins
Butler, P. (1981). Talking to Yourself. San Francisco: Harper & Row
Dyer, W. (1978). Pulling Your Own Strings. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company
Twerski, A. (1986). LikeYourself. New York: Prentice Hall Press