I remember once learning about something called the Emotional Bank Account, which is an analogy for the trust level in our relationships. If we make consistent, healthy deposits – deposits like keeping our word, being fully present, being patient, kind and a good listener - the relationship has a strong, high trust level. If our withdrawals far outweigh our deposits – withdrawals like not keeping our word, lying, cheating and breaking promises – the trust level drips dangerously low. Done often enough and long enough, we will eventually bankrupt the account. This is when the relationship dies, or becomes seriously dysfunctional and unhealthy.
This is true also of our relationship with ourselves. Every time we make a promise to ourselves that we don’t keep, we are making a huge withdrawal from our own trust account with ourselves. If we keep abandoning ourselves and our own ability to choose, and to follow through on our intentions, we loose faith in ourselves. The world out there becomes bigger and scarier as our faith in ourselves and our ability to choose is diminished. We start to feel powerless and victimized by the world, and act from a place of hoping we’ll be able to do what we need to do, rather than knowing that we will.
I remember a coaching client of mine about to complete his third advanced degree saying to me, “I hope when I finish this degree I can finally relax and enjoy spending quality time with my kids.” I said, “Well, who’s going to make that choice for you?”
Nobody is going to brush our teeth for us, eat our lunch for us, or take our shower for us. We have to fully participate in our own lives by the choices that we make. Whenever we start a sentence with, “I hope I can…”, chances are we don’t even trust ourselves enough to know if we will do what it is we want to do. It’s like saying “I’ll try”, which sets us up for failure right out of the gate.
A friend recently asked me what personal freedom meant to me. After thinking about it for a moment, I realized it was having faith in myself to make the right choices in my life, because I know my life is a product of the choices that I make.
We develop trust in ourselves by remembering that we have the power to choose. Every moment of every day we are faced with choices that will strengthen who we are at our very core, or weaken us. We are strengthened or weakened by the choices that we make.
Start rebuilding your trust account with yourself by making promises to yourself that you know you will keep. If there’s any chance you won’t, don’t make the promise yet. Wait until you know you are ready to follow through.
You can start by making little promises and allow those deposits to add up over time. Or make a big deposit, like quitting smoking or starting a new project you’ve been procrastinating on, and feel your trust in yourself skyrocket.