Cultivating Trust to Positively Transform Anxiety

A list of things I put my trust in daily:

  • Love
  • The power of nutritious food
  • That my morning yoga practice will feel even better than staying in bed for another hour
  • God & The Universe & The Cosmos & All of My Benevolent Angels (it takes a village, folks)
  • Tea
  • Gravity
  • The feel-good benefits of fresh air
  • Essential oils
  • More tea
  • All the feels…and how my gut interprets and translates the feels into *action*
  • My breath
  • My body
  • My power


Trust is defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Think of how much trust we all have in each other to make it through the day. You trust in the other drivers on the road obeying the traffic signals and laws. You trust in the barista who makes your coffee each morning. You trust in your partner and co-workers and neighbors and friends and family and firefighters and schoolteachers and doctors and construction workers and bankers and bus drivers and Amazon Prime drones and your sweet pets to generally keep up their end of the bargain.


And hey, that’s just the external trust.


Then there’s how much you trust your heart to keep pumping and your lungs to keep breathing and your brain to pretty much run the show.


And that’s just (a small part of) the physical internal trust.


You and I are immersed in trust. And yet…


do you trust yourself?


The most important trusting relationship that you can cultivate as a human being is usually the one that’s left far behind. You hear this in conversations around you when a friend says to the group that, “I couldn’t trust myself in front of a bowl of queso dip, I’d eat the whole thing,” or a family member discussing finances who says, “my husband has to take care of the money, I’m a complete mess with all of those numbers,” or a co-worker lamenting how hard it is to workout or meditate or wake up early or ______ because, “I have all the resources, but I also have all the excuses.” It’s mostly said in jest, but upon hearing these comments you can feel the truth in them. Why? This *isn’t* a matter of discipline or willpower. They lack trust in themselves.


Something as simple as your sweet friend and the queso dip is a prime example. While she’s outwardly joking that she cannot trust herself in front of something that she finds so tempting, when the queso is actually in front of her she’s likely going through all kinds of mental gymnastics, talking herself into and then back out of what she’s going to do. It may look like this:


“Go on, you’ve been eating really clean lately!”

“But queso has absolutely *no* nutritional value, I can’t eat that.”

“You went on a long walk this morning, it’s fine!”

“I should go for the raw veggies instead.”

“Aww, queso is your favorite, just this once…”



Internal conversations like this are a breeding ground for creating anxiety. The back and forth between *want* and *should* creates an inner storm that spins out of control before you are even aware that you’re engaged in a dialogue like this with yourself.


Turn this around and go inside. Can you find a place where you don’t trust yourself? Maybe a place you used to trust yourself…or a place you never really thought about trusting yourself and can now see a slow slide into complete distrust. From queso to finances to something we think we really want to do or create or feel, there are always places where bringing trust into the situation would draw you closer to a more authentic version of yourself. Pour awareness and compassion on where you’ve lost trust with yourself


Back to the queso. If your friend went into the situation with the understanding that she deeply trusted herself to do whatever was right for her, no matter what was in front of her, that little back-and-forth would likely have gone very differently. The questions that came to her in the form of temptations could be met with love, understanding, and then a firm reminding of what’s what:


“Go on, you’ve been eating really clean lately!”

“I know! And it feels so good in my body.”

“You went on a long walk this morning, it’s fine!”

“You’re right, the walk felt amazing, too…it was wonderful to be outside.”

“Aww, queso is your favorite, just this once…”

“I know it, queso used to be something I thought I really enjoyed. I know now that I used it to distract me and numb my emotions. I have plenty of things to eat and look forward to and do that fill me up and satisfy me.” 


It’s a wholly different experience to venture out into the world, and all of its tempting, confusing, difficult, confronting, offensive, and combative situations knowing that you have your own back. No matter what.


Aaaaaaand, you have taken any level of anxiety in your body (from a low background hum to the most chaotic panic attack) and introduced the process of transforming that energy into something far more valuable for yourself. By showing up for yourself with love, understanding, and compassion, you’ve made the relationship between YOU and YOU stronger. Just like trust is built up between two people in a relationship, you’ve shored up your trust with yourself when you see: you’ve got your own back.


As Bob Dylan famously said:

“Trust yourself,
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best
Trust yourself
Trust yourself to do what's right and not be second-guessed”


Trust will show itself to be a quiet, still, strong place. A deep reservoir of confidence and certainty. A reliable landscape of safety and security.


Did you see that movie, What Dreams May Come? That 1998 film with Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding, Jr.? It’s absolutely gorgeous, check it out. Anyway, trust…the relationship you cultivate with yourself, is just like when Robin Williams’ character dies in the car crash and he winds up in heaven and looks around and says, “Nice place you’ve got here,” only to find out that *he* literally created the whole place himself.


You get to create your place. Use your trust in and with and for yourself to paint whatever you want that place to be.



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