Self-advocacy is something I talk about and teach, but how can we advocate for ourselves when we don’t even have self-trust?
In fact, I believe we are oftentimes unaware of how little trust we have in ourselves. Self-abandonment can easily happen to anyone but I would say it is easy for American women.
As children, we are told by our parents or caregivers:
- How to act
- What to eat
- When to go to bed
Our families, peers, and community groups typically determine how we socialize, dress, adhere to gender expectations, worship, etc.
We were socialized and taught to outsource our power and our council.
Now, don’t get me wrong – children need guidance! However, alongside that guidance, most of us were not taught to listen to ourselves or encouraged to go within.
When a kid says they are full and don’t want to eat anymore they are told to eat a little bit more or clear their plate. Rarely, if ever, are kids asked about…
- How does it feel in their bodies to be full?
- Do they want to grow up to be big and strong?
- Do they understand how food strengthens their bodies?
If we allowed them to sometimes follow the feeling and get down from the table before they finish and then they are hungry moments later, how often is that explored versus shamed because they should’ve listened?
In this simple scenario, it isn’t about logic. Because as adults we logically know that they most likely want to return to playing and not eating. It’s about cultivating moments where a kid can explore their feelings and impulses and learn to listen to their bodies or explore their decisions.
I was told, “when other kids are mean they are just jealous.” which never satisfied me or felt right. When boys were mean, “they have a crush,” that really didn’t sit right with me but I accepted it and it later paved the way for destructive and confusing relationships.
Spiritually I was taught Christianity as the only way, which meant that God, who was a man, and my father (I won’t go into how confusing this is for a person with daddy issues, just trust me when I say this is disorienting at the very least) – I was to trust God with everything, accredit HIM with everything, never hold HIM responsible for anything, and oh, by the way, HE lives in Heaven…not inside of me.
So all of HIS power was HIS and HE is in the Kingdom of Heaven, above. I was never taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is inside of me, that God is genderless, that I am an extension of God and therefore God’s power can be accessed from within me.
I was never taught about the power of a woman. I was taught that as a woman my job was to uplift and support my husband and family. There were no goddesses, no elderly or historic tribal women of wisdom. In fact, we were taught how wrong the Catholics were for even celebrating Mother Mary.
It has taken me decades to return to myself and I am still learning self-trust. I still struggle to imagine God living inside of my spirit, I have been so conditioned to believe that the power of God is outside, floating in the big blue sky.
I still struggle around decisions and taking action at times because I am afraid to make a mistake as if mistakes aren’t a beautiful way to explore life and my own spirit.
For now, these are the things I am doing to rebuild trust and to reinforce the trust I have in myself. I hope you find something useful in your deconditioning and rebuilding process.
1. Make room for mistakes and trust that mistakes are often a good thing!!
This one is really important because our mistakes are our learning moments, it’s how we start to see our patterns (thoughts, feelings, behaviors) and get curious about them. How are they serving us? How are they holding us back?
Mistakes help us to learn discernment and build intuition – how we start to discern intuition from fear. And CELEBRATING OUR MISTAKES is how to reduce shame so we can build trust.
2. Validate your emotions even when they make no sense.
It is totally normal for us to get curious about the world around us and inside of us.
It’s normal to try to make sense of our feelings. And this is especially confusing because we can often make sense of our thoughts.
But when we don’t understand our feelings we often push them away – not giving any room for intuition to speak to us. And sometimes even get angry with ourselves for having feelings we don’t understand which creates internal conflict.
3. Carving out quiet time for ourselves AND having a dialogue with our emotions.
This piggybacks on the last point – our emotions can’t always be trusted as truth which is why it is crucial to carve out some quiet time to explore or dialogue with your emotions.
- Where are they coming from?
- Is it an inner sense of knowing that you can’t explain?
- Or fear of being exposed and unworthy?
Blindly following a feeling can often result in emotional reactions or outbursts. Take time, go on a walk, sit with the discomfort of your feelings without a podcast on or phoning a friend every time your feelings are icky.
4. Maintaining boundaries & keeping commitments
If you are regularly caving when others push your boundaries, you start to send yourself the message that you can’t be trusted. If you make commitments to yourself and others and never keep them – you are sending the message that you can’t be trusted.
So be mindful of making commitments that you don’t actually WANT to keep & take a look at the commitments you’ve made – if you struggle to keep them, ask yourself where did you abandon yourself in making that commitment – is it something you can get out of and learn from?
5. Time alone & self-care
Here is that alone time again – if you are constantly filling your head with chatter – friends, podcasts, tv – you never give yourself a chance to be heard by YOU.
This also puts us in a place where we say “yes” when we want to say “no,” bend our boundaries, and become more emotionally reactive.
Identify YOUR needs for YOU-time.
If having time set aside on the calendar to explore topics like this in a supportive virtual community is a way to grow and have YOU-time, I invite you to check out my upcoming FREE boundaries workshop, join my mailing list for future events and pop-up office hours, or book a call with me to connect and explore how I can support you.