Making Sense of Not Trusting Yourself | Center for Growth Therapy

Making Sense of Not Trusting Yourself

Many people who have learned to talk themselves out of following their gut tend to feel worse about decisions made where they did not follow their gut instinct. Even though distrusting the gut is habitual for them, individuals with these tendencies are used to the negative feeling that follows not having chosen to do what they originally had thought. This tip is for the person who second guesses themselves and has a hard time going for what their instinct feels is right.

Now is your chance to stop feeling bad, take risks, and follow your gut.

The first step to following your gut is giving yourself permission to explore things that happened leading you to not trust yourself in the first place. This will help you begin to deconstruct what it means to trust yourself so you can later author a new narrative around trusting your gut instinct.

Grab a sheet of paper or open up a notepad on your phone to track the story of trusting yourself. This exercise guides you through a few memories and reflective questions. People may vary on how challenging this exercise is. If you have experienced trauma, slowing yourself down to process these memories may be very painful. We recommend deconstructing traumatic stories of not trusting yourself with someone supportive or a trained professional.

  • Write down the first example of when trusting your gut worked out for you
    • How did you feel?
    • What happened?
    • What was the story you told yourself of why it worked out?
    • What did you need at the time?
    • What did you receive?
    • Who was there for you?
  • Write down the first example of when trusting yourself was ruined
    • How did you feel?
    • What happened?
    • What is the story you tell yourself about what went wrong?
    • What did you need at the time that you did not receive?
    • Who was there for you?
  • Write down the first example of having been hurt after trusting someone else
    • What were the consequences?
    • What is the story you tell yourself about what went wrong?
    • What did you need at the time that you did not receive?
    • Who was there for you when you could not depend on yourself?

Facts first

Consider all prior knowledge and logic you have used in similar situations of the past. We are taught history in school in order to not repeat it, right? So how come humans seem to fall into patterns where history is repeated again and again? Narrative therapy suggests the repetitive nature becomes the dominant story from which you construct your reality. A dominant story has potential for becoming problematic when it no longer is useful in coping with your current situation, you experience significant mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression, relationships begin to take on unhealthy patterns, or using escapes such as alcohol, marijuana, or sex that it becomes addictive. At this point, you come to the conclusion that the consequences of your dominant story are too much to keep living this way and your logic has brought you to want to make change.

Knowing Your Gut from Regret

Everyone makes mistakes. Often it is other people or external circumstances that happen making you regret a certain decision, however it had little to do with your intuitive gut. Jot down the differences between mistakes you made where you followed what you thought was your gut reaction vs. bad things that happened to you. If you feel yourself holding yourself responsible for all regret you have, this could be a big factor in not know how to listen to your gut.

Trial and Error

If you are accustomed to choosing what ends up being the wrong choice in hindsight, its going to take a lot of practice doing something different before you are able to trust yourself again. Trying something new requires risking that errors will be made throughout your life.

The only sure way to avoid risk is to keep doing what you are currently doing and you are likely to have the same results. Serial first daters looking for love who tend to go on the same similar first date with multiple people without anything developing into a relationship. Someone who struggles to know their limits with drinking while continually finding themselves spending every social interaction out at a bar.

If you are ready for something in your life to change, recognize that risk is part of it and give yourself permission to make a few errors along the way. For more experiments on how to trust your gut, check out our other tips on the topic or redo the above exercise tracking the most recent memories of trusting or not trusting your gut instinct. Some may really struggle in process the past or finding new strategies for trusting themselves for their future. They may benefit from the guidance of a therapist to help them navigate this brave task. We have offices in Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City NJ, Mechanicsville VA and Santa Fe NM

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