The Trust That We Seek is With Ourself

Stephen R. Covey said:

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

One of the most painful experiences in life is the feeling of betrayal of trust.

This might happen in a myriad of interactions and contexts, in private and professional relationships, with loved ones, friends, business partners, stakeholders or employers.

Whilst we often think that betrayal is something done to us, it often stems from an inner lack of awareness and understanding of how Trust is first and foremost built within ourselves.

In this article, inspired by the works of Dr Brene Brown and Dr Margaret Paul, I share what trust is, the ways in which we lose trust in and with ourselves and how we can rebuild lost trust or strengthen it.

Our Inner Marble Jar

“It’s very clear. Trust is built in very small moments.”

Brené Brown

Trust and vulnerability are essential ingredients for wellbeing and for any relationship to thrive. 

In the fourth industrial revolution as the pace of change seems unprecedented, we might encounter this in the form of sudden loss of our employment. In private spheres, this might take place with loved ones wishing to take a different path.

Yet we often view the betrayal of trust from the flawed premise of something external from ourselves ‘being done to us’. 

A more empowering way to view betrayal of trust is to ask ourselves if there are ways in which the situation is a reflection of our betrayal of ourselves. In what ways might we not have listened to ourselves?

Brené Brown carried out research on Trust. She states:

“Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard stories and those hard things that are happening to you with friends who over time you’ve filled up their marble jar. They’ve done thing after thing after thing where you know you can trust this person.”

I would add that the most foundational element of trust starts with building trust with ourselves first. We often, however, unconsciously perpetuate distrust.

4 Ways We Abandon Ourselves

Trust is first and foremost trust in ourselves. This happens with having conscious, as opposed to unconscious, awareness of how we live our lives and connect or not to ourselves. 

Dr Paul identifies four ways in which we abandon ourselves and our trust in ourselves:


We often tell ourself things we would not dare tell our best friends. We think we are inherently bad, not good enough, a failure and the list goes on. Dr Paul confided that in all her career she never counseled a person who didn’t judge their self in some ways.

2.Staying in our head rather than connecting to our inner experience and body

When you are asked how you feel, can you answer the question from your heart or do you use analytical words?  Are you aware of your feelings? Dr Paul noticed that we’ve learned to ‘stay in our head’ as a way to avoid feeling our feelings.

3.Turning to coping strategies to avoid feeling (addictions)

The third way we disconnect from ourself and abandon ourself is by turning to various addictions to avoid feeling our feelings. These are either process addictions ( shopping, gambling, chemical dependence etc.) or substances. Dr Paul noticed in her work that in fact anything can be used as an addiction or avoidance of feeling our feelings.

4.Making another or others responsible for our feelings

The fourth way we self-abandon is by being unaware how much importance we place on external people or things for our sense of self worth. We look to others for attention and approval that we might never have learnt to give ourselves.

We often derive trust in the observations of the good things around us, the love or appreciation that the persons standing next to us or that we are with give us.

But this form of relating is conditional, dependent upon others and circumstances being the way we need them to be. This is based on a flawed belief as life is movement, change is the norm. People and experiences will come and go. Finally, we often attach to ‘conditions’ as a way to fill a void.

So how do we rebuild trust in ourselves and in relationship with others?

From her ‘Dare To Lead’ Manifesto, Dr Brene Brown reported seven elements which need to be present for trust to flourish within ourselves and in relationship with others.


You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.


You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t over promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.


You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.


You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential


Brene Brown’s definition of integrity is: “Choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values not just professing your values.”


I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.


You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Practices We can Incorporate to Build or Strengthen Trust

  • We first become mindful of the way we disconnect to ourselves by looking at the list above without judgement. This might involve investigating ways in which we see ourselves as powerless or dependent upon others for our sense o wellbeing and self-worth. We become mindful observing without criticism.
  • We can use meditation, quiet time of learn modalities like Dr Paul’s innerbonding or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which helps us investigate our false beliefs. The help of a qualified and trusted guide with whom we feel a rapport is essential. We often can’t identify our patterns by ourselves.

Science has shown that body and mind are not separate but interrelated by complex processes we are just starting to make sense of. The good news is that change and transformation are possible with the willingness, right awareness and tools.