I Don't Trust Myself: Why You Feel This Way and What to Do

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Trust is an important factor in pretty much every relationship, including your relationship with yourself. Not trusting yourself can make it difficult to make decisions, trust your instincts, meet your needs, and make the most of opportunities.

This article lists some signs that you don't trust yourself, why you might feel this way, how a lack of trust in yourself can impact you, and some steps you can take to rebuild your trust.

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Signs That You Don’t Trust Yourself

These are some signs that you don’t trust yourself, according to Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University:

  • You seek reassurance and advice from others instead of tuning in to how you feel about a situation.
  • You solicit opinions from others around you when an important decision must be made.
  • You postpone making decisions and procrastinate as you find it easier to sit with uncertainty, compared to the fear that you made the wrong decision.
  • You avoid tuning in to your needs and desires and disconnect instead.
  • You overestimate the perspective of others and undervalue your own thoughts and instincts.
  • You experience excessive guilt after making a decision and always fear that you’ve made the wrong choice.
  • You ruminate on what could have been if you had taken another path.
  • You compare your choices to others’ decisions.
  • You don’t believe you’ve made a good decision unless you receive external validation.
  • You are quick to believe negative opinions of yourself.
  • You underestimate the power of your choices.
  • You don’t recognize and believe in your own innate value and worth.

Reasons Why You May Not Trust Yourself

There are many reasons why you might feel like you're unable to trust yourself. Dr. Romanoff unpacks some of them below.

Fear of Making the Wrong Choice

People who are not attuned to their own feelings and needs tend to regulate themselves based on the perspectives of others. Underlying their lack of trust in themselves is the fear that they will make the wrong choice and a lack of confidence in their own ability to do what is best for them.

They also tend to create a false dichotomy of a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ decision. They simplify decisions through this black-and-white lens to create an illusion of control, instead of recognizing their own ability to thrive in various situations and to navigate adversity, if a situation does not go as planned.

Typically, people who don’t trust themselves and find it difficult to make choices tend to struggle between two equally positive options. The struggle is less about which decision would be best for them, and more about their lack of confidence in their own abilities.

They tend to operate from a deficit position in which they believe they must maximize their opportunities, and set themselves up with the best possible situation to overcome their perceived shortcomings.

Past Events and Present Habits

People who have made poor decisions in the past or experienced emotional abuse that makes it hard for them to believe their own self-worth may get into the habit of second-guessing themselves and seeking others’ opinions and validation to help them make decisions.

While this may help them feel like they’re safe and in control, it can get worse over time as they become further disconnected from their needs and instincts.

Impact of Not Trusting Yourself

Not trusting yourself can take a toll on your physical and mental health. According to Dr. Romanoff, these are some of the negative effects you may experience:

  • Mental health conditions: People who struggle with trusting themselves tend to experience elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and guilt. 
  • Difficulty sleeping: People who find it difficult to trust themselves are also prone to sleep difficulties as they may tend to ruminate over big and small life decisions at night before they fall asleep, when they are unable to seek reassurance from others or distract themselves in other ways.
  • Physical health conditions: The stress and anxiety caused by uncertainty can take a toll on their physical and mental health, eventually leading to conditions such as impaired memory, heart problems, and diabetes.

Rebuilding Your Trust in Yourself

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

It is important to rebuild trust in yourself because you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. While seeking the perspective and advice of others can be helpful, others do not live with the consequences and therefore are not qualified to make your life decisions.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

If you've realized that you have a hard time trusting yourself and feel a desire to improve your level of self-trust, here are some steps you can take to rebuild trust with yourself.

Tune in to Your Needs and Instincts

Rebuilding trust in yourself usually involves improving self-esteem and your belief in your own ability to know what is best for you. Start to become more attuned to your needs and what you want. 

When a big decision or situation arises, resist your initial inclination to immediately tell someone else and get their advice. Instead, sit with the situation and process how you feel about it and consider your options as well as the pros and cons of each potential decision point. 

You may find it helpful to write out a list of pros and cons for each decision, as writing down your thoughts on paper can provide more clarity and perspective.

Use Positive Visualization

Positive visualization can be a helpful tool. Many people who struggle with self-trust tend to utilize negative visualization, which means they imagine the worst possible outcome for their decisions, causing them to devalue their opinions and idealize the opinions of others. 

Instead, imagine making a decision and visualize the best possible outcome. For example, if you're trying to choose between two different business schools, imagine moving to each new city, meeting new friends, trying new restaurants, walking around the campus, and learning interesting topics. 

Avoid your tendency to ruminate over lost opportunities, thinking that you won’t enjoy the environment, won’t get a job after school, and come to regret your choice.

A Word From Verywell

Not trusting yourself can take a major toll on your quality of life. Apart from causing mental and physical health problems, it can also cause you to miss out on life. For instance, you may not feel confident enough to take the leap and opt for the career you really want. Or, you may not trust your instincts about people and miss out on really great relationships.

It’s important to start listening to your inner voice and heed your instincts. This will help you build your confidence and develop trust in yourself.

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Uncertainty and stress: Why it causes diseases and how it is mastered by the brain. Progress in Neurobiology. 2017;156:164-188. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2017.05.004