“When you trust yourself, you learn how to live.”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe said that.
I agree. And I also think that when you trust yourself, several other cool things happen:
You earn new energy.
You advance inner knowing.
You recognize trust in others.
You live within your own skin better.
You move through whatever happens.
You frame yourself in yessable attitudes.
You develop a deeper sense of self-acceptance.
You radiate trust into the hearts of the people you serve.
You avoid putting all your eggs in other people’s baskets.
You eliminate anxiety that others are going to let you down.
You gain a greater knowledge of your body, mind and spirit.
You quit trying to control everything and let life make you happen.
You stop killing yourself worrying about the judgments of people who don’t matter.
THE CHALLENGE IS: Trusting yourself isn’t always easy.
Probably because it involves accepting reality, surrendering control, dismantling insecurity and taking responsibility. Yikes.
Here’s how to shut up and trust yourself:
1. Your life is your preparation. Readers often ask how long it takes me to write a book. I have two standard answers for this question, both of which annoy the hell out of most people. The first is my bakery metaphor:
“If the pie is five dollars – how much do the apples cost?”
Exactly: You don’t know. And it’s impossible to tell because the source is so varied. That’s what writing a book is like: A million disparate bits and pieces that somehow come together as one.
I have no idea how long it takes, I’ll never have any idea how long it takes, and nor will I ever care.
The second response is my philosophical answer:
“It takes my entire life to write one sentence, so, do the math.”
Again, this annoys people because it’s not a straight answer. But that’s the thing about being a writer: My life is my preparation. Everything I’ve ever done since the day I was born has prepared me for this moment.
Which is precisely why I never edit. Ever. Sure, I have a proofreader who checks for grammar, typos and spelling and stupid mistakes. But outside of basic, mechanical modifications:
I don’t edit, I don’t rewrite, I don’t do drafts and I don’t go back and revisit old work. I write things once, I write them in blood, and I publish them to the world with zero regret and infinite confidence. That’s why it causes me physical pain anytime someone tries to change my work. I’m like, “But it took my entire life to write that sentence!”
William Burroughs was right: Rewrites are a betrayal of your own thoughts. The key is, this philosophy isn’t just about writing – it’s about life. And your level of self-belief. Just another example of what happens when you trust yourself. What part of yourself do you need to stop editing?
2. Make allowance for doubt. Doubt is healthy. Doubt reinforces humility. Doubt protects you. Doubt stretches you. And while you don’t have to become best buds with doubt – you do need to make allowances for it.
The trick is honoring your doubts for the value they carry, and then letting go of those inner voices before they drown out the voice of trust.
Every morning during my daily appointment with myself, I affirm the following:
“If I notice any doubt, I will greet it with a welcoming heart. I will attend to it as a natural part of the life experience. And I will be thankful for it and the wisdom it brings.”
That’s how you put unadulterated self-respect at the apex of your value system: By honoring whatever surfaces, by learning from what scares you, and by still believing that you can handle what life sends you. When was the last time you followed your doubt down into the basement?
3. Self-belief dismantles insecurity. Writing is my occupation inasmuch as it occupies most of my time. My job, however, is to be a resource. A vendor of value.
One of the ways my clients use me is through a service called Rent Scott’s Brain. Now, it’s not really coaching. Not really consulting. Not really mentoring. More like a guided tour of my mind that disturbs stuck people into executing what matters.
The clients I work with – from entrepreneurs to writers to company leaders – pay for this service because it’s completely organic. Just them and me, in a room, with minimal agendas, and a desire to get better. Nothing else in the marketplace quite like it.
The interesting part is, because of the informal nature of the process, there’s no preparation on my part.
Outside of our initial discovery conversation, my mission is to show up as the best, highest version of myself, remain respectful of (and responsive to) the needs of the moment, and spend the next four hours adding value in the best way I can.
Naturally, this approach requires heaps of self-trust. And admittedly, when I started offering this service five years ago, the first few sessions were pretty intimidating.
But here’s what I learned: Trusting yourself requires dismantling your insecurities. It means having faith in the wisdom that created you and knowing that you are the person who can do this.
Next time you sit across a table from people who demand that you deliver, keep replaying in your mind: “These people called me for a reason. They want me to succeed. And they’re going to get their money’s worth.”
Otherwise they’ll smell your fear the minute you walk in the door. When people rent your brain, what resources do you deliver?
4. Raise your hand for pain. In the movie Fight Club, Brad Pitt poses the question, “How much can you really know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”
Answer: Not enough. Especially if you’ve been surrounded by safety nets all your life.
And if you’re one of those people, someone who comes from a trouble-free existence – but who is not willing to expose yourself to the world – you’re doomed.
Not to suggest you hit the streets and start punching strangers. This isn’t about violence – this is about voluntary discomfort. It’s about allowing yourself to get hurt during practice so you can avoid injury during the game.
That’s the cool part about pain: It’s an invitation to excel. It means your body is alive and talking to you. And it’s a natural and necessary part of achieving success.
Volunteer for it. Live out what you already know to be true. Even if it stings like hell. Do you invite pain in the short term to build your armor against injury in the long term?
5. Let the performance happen by itself. As a public speaker, part of my job is to get out of my own way and let the speech give itself. Otherwise I end up micromanaging every outburst of emotion. And that’s just not fair to my audience.
Fortunately, after a few hundred presentations, you develop the confidence that when you open your mouth, something good will come out. Even if you occasionally spit some garbage.
For example, think back to the last time you delivered a crucial message – one to one or one to many – in which you trusted your own voice.
How did it feel?
Were you content with the delivery?
What did you say to yourself to build the trust that fueled your performance?
By identifying these keys, you’ll be able to recreate it in the future. Remember: When you allow yourself to trust your spontaneous instinctual abilities, you never make a false move or a wrong choice. Are you giving your audience permission to be taken over by your performance?
6. Bend your boundaries. Sometimes the best way to trust yourself is to test yourself. After all: If you never test your limits, you never transcend them.
The hard part is, testing means surrendering. And surrendering means being vulnerable. This is a terrifying prospect for many people. Especially if you’re one of those neurotic control freaks who shits a brick anytime sometime tries to make you abandon your pace.
To help preserve your sense of control, consider these three words:
Bend, don’t violate.
That’s the key to effective boundary management: Being flexible enough to bend when needed, while still honoring your constitution and without compromising foundation.
I’m reminded of what Alan Watts wrote in The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, “You don’t grab a hold of the water when you swim.” That’s how you trust yourself: You let the water swim you. Even if it’s lightyears out of your comfort zone. Where are you willing to bend?
7. Surround yourself with human mirrors. My support system is amazing. From friends to family members to colleagues to mentors, the people who matter never fail to come through for me. And I feel incredibly fortunate to have them as an asset.
Especially in those moments where I’m having a hard time trusting myself, they serve as human mirrors.
Lesson learned: The best way to trust yourself is to keep the company people who reflect the best, highest version of yourself.
That means: People who will make you feel heard. People who will reflect your reality. And most importantly, people who will tell you when you’re off your tree. Think of these individuals as your source of sobriety, deriving from the French sobrieté, which means, “steadiness.”
That’s the sort of stillness required to help you listen to your own voice. Remember: Life’s short to surround yourself with people that don’t challenge and inspire you. Are you still convinced that success comes unassisted?
In conclusion, we turn to the words of the wise philosopher, Bob Dylan:
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best.
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed.
Don’t trust me to show you beauty.
When beauty may only turn to rust.
If you need somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Trust yourself to know the way that will prove true in the end.
Trust yourself to find the path where there is no if and when.
Don’t trust me to show you the truth.
When the truth may only be ashes and dust.
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Trust yourself and you won’t be disappointed when vain people let you down.
And look not for answers where no answers can be found.
You’re on your own.
You always were in a land of wolves and thieves.
Don’t put your hope in ungodly man.
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes.
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
REMEMBER: You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.
Trust yourself today; learn how to live tomorrow.
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Where are you afraid to trust yourself?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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