This article is pulled from an enewsletter from Nicolas Ashbaugh from The Wave + The Ocean. View it also on this link here.
Why do we trust people?
Let’s say you know this fellow. We’ll call him John.
One day you need a favor, so you ask John for help. He’s a nice guy, and he agrees.
You feel safe to count on him.
But then he doesn’t follow through.
No big deal, right?
People make mistakes, they get busy, something comes up, etc.
But what if this happens two, three, four times in a row?
John offers to help — and he sincerely wants to — but realizes later on he doesn’t have the capacity, and he lets you down.
Naturally, you stop trusting John.
You lose faith that he is someone you can count on, and you stop expecting him to follow through when he says he will.
In fact, at that point, you’d be a fool to trust John.
It makes sense, right?
Then why do we we expect self-trust to be any different?
So often, we overextend ourselves by making huge commitments that we won’t follow through on.
Perhaps we decide we’re ready to establish some new habits in our lives, so we make those huge commitments.
You know what I’m talking about. It sounds like this:
“Starting tomorrow, I’m going to…”
When we become aware that we’re living out of alignment, we can get fed up and decide to make a drastic change.
We grab the old notebook and do a brainstorming session. We make a plan. We schedule new habits in our color-coded calendar.
And we get high on that planning, because it literally floods our system with short-term feel-good chemicals.
This is for real.
A 2010 study of 1,530 adults found that those going on a vacation experienced their highest level of happiness in the weeks and months before a trip.
Upon returning from their travels, their happiness levels dropped back down to about the same place as those who took no trip at all.
As the study shows and as we often experience, the high eventually wears off, and we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and resentful over these dramatic commitments we’ve made.
We get fed up once again, resentment builds, and we stop following through.
The inevitable result of doing this over and over again?
We stop trusting ourselves.
Just as we’d be a fool to trust John for continually letting us down, we start to feel the same way about ourselves.
Each time we make a new commitment, we hear that familiar voice saying:
“I don’t believe you. You’ve said that before. In fact, you ALWAYS do this. And I’m not buying it this time.”
With no self-trust, we live like a rubber band.
Perhaps we eat mostly unhealthy food for an extended period. Eventually, we get frustrated, promise to go on a strict diet or cleanse, and we do that for a while.
Until the high of planning a new adventure wears off, and one day we’re rubber banding back into our old habits, shoveling deep fried Oreos into our mouths in a dark room and wondering why it always goes wrong.
But if you’re reading this message and you sense you’ve lost trust in yourself, do not despair!
Trust can certainly be re-built.
And contrary to what we’ve always practiced, trust not built through life-shattering, grandiose gestures.
It’s a slow, gradual process, like building a brand new house brick by brick.
If you want to build self-trust, you have to shift from huge commitments to micro-promises.
Micro-promises are the smallest changes we can make that we are 100% sure we can follow through on.
In the beginning, these commitments might seem inconsequential.
5 minutes of meditation. One glass of water a day. 10 minutes of walking or stretching.
But little by little, we fill our well of self-trust each time we check another box and learn what accomplishment feels like.
Start with just one thing, and start small. Really small.
Do only what you can do consistently, and you’ll slowly start to remember what you’ve always known:
You are, indeed, someone you can trust.
The Wave and The Ocean
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