Words by Dr Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist and Managing Director of The LightHouse Arabia
Trust yourself. We hear this, but we are often reluctant and apprehensive to do so. We would rather trust anyone else – our friend, our parents, even a person who has a limited understanding of our situation – than trust ourselves.
We live in a noisy world, and it can often drown out our own inner voice
Why is that?
As children, we are taught to put our trust in others. Well-intentioned parents can often ‘problem solve’ for us, and then we do not make contact with our own inner wisdom. This habit of trusting others is then something we carry with us through life. Unfortunately, we never really cultivate a relationship with the one person who knows our situation best – the person looking back in the mirror.
How to develop self-trust:
- Know thyself. In order to deeply trust anyone, you have to know that person. It will be important to engage in reflective practice and understand your biases, your complexes, and your emotional triggers. Autobiographical journaling or insight-oriented therapy are two ways people can make this visit with their inner world a practice.
- Stillness, solitude, silence. We live in a noisy world, and it can often drown out our own inner voice. Whether it’s technology, social media, or our well-intentioned friends and family, when we become reliant on or listen to the messages others are giving us, we can miss our own inner wisdom. Make time to sit in stillness, solitude, and silence. Of course, this is easier said than done. So start with 10 minutes and build up to 1 day of no technology, books, or journals, just unstructured time with yourself. Once you have enough capacity, try to spend a few days in silence, stillness, and solitude.
- Meditate. For you to distinguish between your inner guidance and your thoughts, you need to be acquainted with your ‘observer self’. Meditation helps you cultivate that observer self which will help you distinguish between thought and experience. And for those who say “I can’t meditate” or “I don’t know how to meditate,” if you can breathe, you can meditate. Like building any muscle, building your mental muscle will also come with a struggle, but it gets (slightly) easier with time.
- Pay attention to your sensory experience of a person, place or thing. Ask your heart and your gut, “what do you sense?” Our inner wisdom speaks to us in our three brains — our minds, hearts, and gut. When you tune into these three centres, you will hear your truth and your guidance more clearly.
- Pay attention to the big emotions. Whether you are really upset about something or very happy about something, your psyche will communicate to you through emotions. All emotions are messengers that come to teach you something about yourself – the big emotions are loud messengers about your truth. If you are always angry around a person, explore that anger and see what parts of you feel dismissed or treated unfairly? If you feel you want to spend more time with a person, what parts of you do you access around them that you like?
Meditation helps you cultivate that observer self which will help you distinguish between thought and experience
Trusting yourself, like trusting anyone or anything else, takes understanding and commitment. You have to show up for yourself every day and pay attention to all the different messages you are getting from your mind, heart, and gut.