Meditation + Talk: Letting Go of Toxic Self-Doubt and Trusting Yourself

Meditation + Talk: Letting Go of Toxic Self-Doubt and Trusting Yourself

This Wednesday Night Meditation included a 34-minute meditation and 46-minute talk and discussion about Letting Go of Toxic Self-Doubt and Trusting Yourself.

I hope you find it helpful, and you are welcome to join my free Wednesday Meditations – open to everyone!

Meditation: Letting Go of Toxic Self-Doubt and Trusting Yourself

Talk: Letting Go of Toxic Self-Doubt and Trusting Yourself

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Generosity itself is a beautiful practice that opens and gladdens the heart, relaxes the contraction of “self,” and ripples out into the world to touch many people – and perhaps, eventually, even oneself.

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Letting Go of Toxic Self-doubt and Trusting Yourself Talk (download transcript here)

Rick Hanson [00:00:00] All right, I want to answer a question that came in that I really appreciated from John Sexton. The picture of myself, my new Zoom picture, it was recorded just a few months ago, really, at the top of a rock climb in Pinnacles National Park in California. And I had been quite challenged to do that climb initially. And I used to do a lot of rock climbing. I’m just getting back into it. And so that picture captures me having summited this difficult climb with that combination of relief and joy and exuberance and chalk-covered hands and all the rest of it. So, that’s what that was. And I had to trust myself. It also helped that I trusted the rope that was held by my friend sitting on top of the rock, who was pulling it up to keep me safe as I went. But in that I had to, of course, trust myself. And part of trusting myself was knowing that I’d give it my all but if I didn’t make it, well, I was still safe. He would lower me down. We’d be OK. It’s OK. It’s just a rock climb. You know? So, there’s a place for trusting yourself, even in a context of challenge and even when the result is uncertain.

[00:01:17] So, that’s maybe a kind of a lead in to me saying that tonight I’d like to talk with you about letting go of what I call toxic self-doubt. Toxic, inappropriate, self-mistrust, which is different from giving ourselves good guidance and recognizing some of our own weak spots or vulnerabilities or maybe tendencies to get reactive or addictive about something. We can be aware of those things and trust ourselves to manage them. Right? And in particular, through letting go of toxic self-doubt, rest in a feeling of trusting oneself, which is relevant in general, and it’s very relevant in the field of our relationships. So, I hope to hold forth for maybe 20 minutes or so and then try to preserve as much time as possible for your own comments and questions, which I’ll respond mainly to through the Zoom site, through the chat sidebar, through the chat sidebar here, although hopefully we’ll have time for me to talk with at least one or two people. OK? All right.

[00:02:26] And so, with regard to trusting yourself, I’m going to do something I’ve never done in, I don’t know, 10 years or more of, you know, hosting this meditation gathering. I’m going to actually read from one of my Just One Thing newsletters titled appropriately, Trust Yourself. I’m going to read from it and then I’m going to add some particular takeaways about how to put it into practice. And then we’ll open it up for discussion. And I’ve posted in the chat at 6:41 p.m., 41 minutes past the hour, my time, where you can find this text on my website. Trust Yourself. OK? And as I read this, keep bringing it at home. Bring it home to yourself. How does this relate to you? All right? Here we go.

[00:03:21] As I grew up—at home, in school—it felt dangerous to be myself. My whole self, including the parts that made mistakes, got rebellious and angry, goofed around too loudly, or were awkward and vulnerable. These are not dangers of violence, as many have faced, but risks of being punished in other ways or rejected, shunned, and shamed. So, as children understandably do, I put on a mask, closed up watching warily, managing the performance of me. There was a valve in my throat. I knew what I thought and felt deep inside, but little of it came out into the world. From the outside, it looked like I didn’t trust other people. Yes, I did need to be careful sometimes. But mainly I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust that the authentic me was good enough, lovable enough, and that I’d still be OK if I did mess up. I didn’t trust that. I didn’t have confidence in my own depths, confidence and trust in the core of me. Faith, actually, that it already contained goodness, the core of myself. Just like your core containing goodness, wisdom, and love. I didn’t trust the unfolding process of living. Living without tight top-down control. I didn’t trust that. I doubted myself. I doubted my worth. I doubted my possibilities.

[00:05:10] And so I lived all squeezed up. Doing well in school and happy sometimes, but mainly swinging between numbness and pain. In Erik Erikson’s eight stages of human development, the first foundational stage is about what he called Basic Trust. He focused on trust/mistrust of the outer world, especially the people in it, especially the key caregivers in it. And to be sure, this is important. I’m not talking about foolish trust or looking out at the world through rose-colored glasses or at oneself through rose-colored glasses. Yet often what looks like the world is untrustworthy is, at bottom, I don’t trust myself to deal with it.

[00:06:06] It’s been a lifelong journey to develop more faith in myself, to lighten up, loosen up, swing out, take chances, make mistakes and then repair and learn from them and stop taking myself so seriously. I’m still working on some of these things. Sure, things go wrong sometimes when you trust yourself more. But they go really wrong and they stay wrong when you trust yourself less.

[00:06:37] So, how to trust yourself? How to do it? Nobody is perfect. You don’t need to be perfect to relax, to say what you really feel, and take your full shot at life. It’s the big picture that matters most. And it’s the long view, the long run of your whole life that matters most of all. Yes, top-down tight control in a well-crafted persona may bring short term benefits. But over the long term, the costs are much greater, including stress, bottled up truths and inner alienation divided from yourself and divided from the parts you don’t trust. There are great costs there. With gentleness and self-compassion, even right now, take a look at yourself. Is there any self-doubt that’s inappropriate? Is there any unnecessary holding back? Any needless fear of looking bad or failing? If you imagine being your full self out loud, is there an expectation, a fear of rejection or other people misunderstanding it or even a shaming attack? I can relate to all those expectations, all those anticipations or sense of risk. It may not happen, but oh, if it did, it’d be horrible. I understand that kind of thinking.

[00:08:30] Understandably, we are concerned about what seems “bad” or “weak,” quote unquote inside ourselves. I get it. But can you challenge that labeling? Are those parts of yourself actually bad? Or actually so bad? Are they actually weak? Maybe they’re actually strong in some ways and just needs some support, even protection or compensation by other parts of yourself. Maybe these parts of you that seem so, oh, got to keep them out of the light, you know, can’t rely on them at all, oh, maybe they’re just rattled. But when they settle down, they’re OK. Maybe they’re just a little desperate because their needs are unmet and that’s where to focus. Or maybe they’re looking for love or happiness in young, understandably young, but still as adults problematic ways they just need a little guidance, need a little inner parenting. Maybe that’s all that’s going on there.

[00:09:37] Maybe you’ve internalized the criticism of others. I grew up with well-intended fault finding. And no matter how well-intended it was, the faults that were found, were invented in me, still stung. And it’s taken me a lot to unlearn them. Maybe you’ve been exaggerating yourself, over believing, you know, what they told you about what was wrong with you. And maybe you haven’t been focusing on all those other things. Not the red lights blinking in the inner dashboard, but the green lights or the neutral, let’s call them gray lights that are been there all along inside you. Maybe you’ve been overlooking that.

[00:10:29] When you ease up and tap into your own core, when you are in touch with your body, when you’re in touch with your experience as you express it, what’s that like? In other words, being your authentic self, at ease. What’s that like? How do others respond? I bet they usually respond pretty well. Just like we tend to respond pretty well, usually when others are just kind of their natural self, even if they need a little bit of regulation once in a while. We tend to be OK with it, right? They would be OK with you in that way.

[00:11:10] What are you able to accomplish when you kind of relax and be your whole self? What are you able to accomplish at home or at work? Sure, be prudent about the outer world. And recognize when it’s truly unwise to let go, take risks, speak out. Sometimes it really is. Sometimes you’re outnumbered, you’re outgunned. Sometimes the fix is in and that’s just the way it is. Recognize that. Recognize those situations. Sometimes the causes and conditions are not auspicious in this particular setting to, you know, speak from your heart or show a soft belly. All right. Recognize that. And guide your inner world like a loving parent, recognizing that not every thought or feeling or what should be said or enacted. OK, we can do that. We can do that. And meanwhile, if you are like me and every single person I have ever known who has decided to trust their own deep self, you will find so much that’s right inside. So much knowing of what’s true and what matters, so much life and heart inside you that you can count on so many gifts waiting to be given, so many strengths.

[00:12:47] Be your whole self. It’s your whole self that you can trust. This day, this week, this life, see what happens when you bet on yourself, when you back your own play. See what happens when you let yourself fall backward into your own arms, trusting that they will catch you. See what happens when you let yourself fall backward into your own arms, trusting that they will catch you.

[00:13:37] So that’s the original piece with a few additions along the way. And you can see it at the link that I put in at 6:41 p.m.. And I would like to build on what I’ve said so far. To summarize, three key takeaways that you can practice practice. First, recognize toxic self-doubt. Recognize inappropriate ways that you mistrust yourself. I mentioned being aware of the internalization of criticism over the years from others. We can also be aware of overlearning from past events. Yeah, that thing happened. I once gave a talk and I’ll tell you an embarrassing moment there. In my senior class in high school and at the high school, public high school I went to, once a year you could wear shorts. And so as a painfully self-conscious, awkward, very young-for-grade kid, I was standing there in the front of my, you know, English class, giving a little talk with my hands all nonchalantly and coolly, in the pockets of my Bermuda shorts. And the pressure of my hands in the Bermuda shorts popped my fly open, my zipper open. I was wearing underwear, fear not. But whoa, the whole classroom burst into laughter. I can feel it right now, even just talking about it. You know, I was like, oh OK, zipped up, and kept on going while probably blushing immensely. In any case, you know, things like that happen. But we can over generalize from them. We over learn from them. That’s very much the negativity bias in play. But those overlearning from past events can make us doubt ourselves today in ways that are just not necessary.

[00:15:34] We can play small. I’m continuing the first one, recognize unfair ways you mistrust yourself. We can play small due to what’s called defensive pessimism, in which we just say, Oh, we lower our expectations because we don’t really trust ourselves to meet them and we want to prevent being disappointed. You know, we don’t need to do that so much.

[00:15:59] Also, remember that you can let go as you focus on how you are mistrusting yourself needlessly. You can let go of that while remembering, and it helps to remember this, that you can keep your eyes open. You can be careful and prudent. You can regulate yourself and you can learn. You can learn along the way. That’s the most important thing, I think, in many ways to trust in yourself or one of the most important things, to trust that you will learn from your experiences. You will learn from input. You’ll learn from feedback. You’ll learn from your errors and opportunities for correction and greater skillfulness. You will learn even from your own moral faults, as I’ve tried to learn from my own. You will learn, and that’s what makes you trustworthy. OK.

[00:16:45] Second big takeaway, understand why you can trust yourself. And I think there are three levels to this. You can trust your strengths, first. Think about your talents and then how you’ve trained and learned. You’ve acquired skills. Think about your virtues, you know, wholesome qualities in you, your character. It may not be a bad idea to take a little inventory. You probably have an inventory of all the reasons you can’t trust yourself. Why not take inventory of all the reasons you can trust yourself, including qualities inside you that you can trust? They’re part of you. Qualities of temperament. You know, can you trust that whatever your basic qualities might be, that you have a basic, you know, you keep on going? You keep trying. You have a basic interest in the world. You’re basically positive toward other people. There’s a fundamental caring in you. Maybe you can trust that, you know, there’s a certain patience in you or good humor, a certain fundamental resilience in your temperament.

[00:17:51] You can also remember, if you want to understand, you know, why you can trust yourself, ways you’ve coped with hard things in your past. You know, look back and go, well, I got through that. Whoa, I got you that too. Whoa, that person was a nightmare, but I dealt with that one. OK, maybe I can have more confidence as I move forward into the next moment, the next relationship. And as I’ve said, you know, remember that you are a learner. And so that, in a sense, you can bet on your future self is going to be a little more skillful, a little more awakened, a little wiser, a little stronger than you are today. You can bet on the future you, the you you’ll be in a day or a year from now. All right.

[00:18:38] Second, deeper level of understanding why you can trust yourself, is the sense that, you know, I can trust my whole self, which includes that sense of being that we got in touch with. You can accept yourself while still guiding yourself. Even if some part of your whole self acts silly or goofs, up the costs of that, whatever they are, are almost always going to be small compared to the benefits globally of loosening up, lightening up, and relaxing that shell, just letting go that armoring and being more open and easy.

[00:19:18] In this life, we get precious little time in our laps around the sun. What really matters to you in the use of this time? Will it really matter in 100 years that you avoided some mistakes by suppressing and contracting yourself? I don’t think so.

[00:19:43] And then at the deepest level of knowing why you can trust yourself, you can trust your innermost being. Deep within all of us is a naturally wakeful, caring and wise core or ground or field. However, we want to describe it. And it’s useful to know that you are a basically good person. No halo required. No halo required to be a basically good person. Deep down, and all, you know, through and through your heart is good. You have a good heart. I don’t probably know many of the people I’m speaking to you right now. I know you. Your heart is good because deep down, sometimes really deep down in some cases, the heart is good. And whatever you might think about, yeah, but so-and-so out there, forget about that stuff about so-and-so out there. What about in here? Is your heart good? Do you know that? And if you know that, can you trust that your heart is good? Deep down, you want what’s good for others and what’s good for yourself.

[00:21:00] Now, when we get down to this innermost being, you may have a sense of your deep nature blending into something transpersonal. I do. Something vast and timeless and unconditioned, as the Buddha pointed to it. And perhaps, perhaps involving a universal consciousness and a kind of love. If you do have a sense of this deepest ground of your own deep nature, can you trust this ultimate transpersonal ground?

[00:21:40] So, we have, one, recognized toxic self-doubt and how you mistrust yourself needlessly. Two, understand why you can trust yourself. And three live from trust. Take these words, you know, you might be inspired here. Put them into practice. What would it be like to put them into practice? You know? Imagine how you’d be right here right now if you lived from fully trusting yourself. In this breath, in how you sit, in how you move, in how you lean forward or back, or how you let go of, you know, putting that lid on yourself or the hammer on yourself, what would that feel like? What would it be like to trust your own basic intelligence? Your fundamentally good intentions? To trust your commitment to learning from your experiences and correcting and repairing is needed? What if you trusted that basic intelligence and good heart and the fact that you’re a member of the learning team and be lived by that intelligence and good heart and learning orientation to life? What would that be like? Wow, what a relief. What would it be like to lighten up and be your full, authentic self, trusting that that’s OK? It’s OK to be yourself. And last, what would it be like to trust the natural wakefulness and kindness in you and let that live through you? OK.

[00:23:34] That’s my presentation. I trust that it was the best I could come up with. And I invite your questions, your comments. I see various questions and comments coming in. Wonderful comments. Very useful. And Madison at 7:08 p.m. makes a really important point. There’s often good reason not to trust the world around us because it’s untrustworthy. It’s unreliable or it’s reliably bad in some way, you know? Totally. And meanwhile, whatever the world is like around us, can we find what is trustworthy within ourselves? What is stable and enduring, and we can count on it and relax more and be lived more from that? And what would that feel like, meanwhile? You know, Shanti Deva had this—great Tibetan teacher a thousand or so years ago—pointed out that the world is full of untrustworthy things. I’m paraphrasing. Full of sharp stones and thorns and probably people who will let you down, you know, in a clinch. All right. So what are we going to do? Well, we could cover the world with leather to protect ourselves perfectly from an unreliable world. Or personally, we could put on a pair of shoes. We could develop a personal practice. We could acquire greater mindfulness. We could build up self-compassion. We could learn from what we see about the world around us. We could build up things inside ourselves that are reliable and we can count on them. They’re good. We can do all those things ourselves, regardless of the nature of the world. All right.

[00:25:31] Anybody have a question? Let’s see. Very good. So, Josie Ryan at 7:11 p.m. asked a really important question. How do we trust ourselves while we make choices that creates suffering for ourselves? To be clear, again, clear seeing is the foundation. Clear understanding, clear feeling, clear recognizing, standing in truth, that’s what’s ultimately trustworthy. What is true, that’s what we can trust. And if it’s true, let’s say, that there’s a part of us that too easily snaps in anger at others or too easily reaches for that third beer, clear seeing, standing in truth recognizes that part of ourselves for what it is. It’s not reliable. It’s not yet reliable. OK. We recognize that. Around what is not yet reliable in us, what is reliable? The understanding that we need to be more careful next time in that high stress irritating situation? To speak more skillfully and with greater restraint? Can we trust that? Can we trust our willingness to take responsibility when we mess up and do all the appropriate things? Appropriate apologies, appropriate making amends, appropriate repair as best we can, can we trust those things in ourselves? So, you find other things you can trust. And part of trusting yourself is knowing what situations not to put yourself in. You know, if you’re new and sobriety, don’t go hang out with your friends in your old favorite sports bar. You know? If you’re working on your diet, you know, good nutrition begins with what we buy at the store and, you know, we take it from there. Don’t put that big bag of Oreo cookies in your home if you’re like someone I know well, who probably, well, used to be untrustworthy about what to do with a bag of Oreo cookies in the home, now is, in fact, trustworthy. You know, so that’s that’s really important. Can you trust yourself to manage the parts of you that you can’t quite trust yet? And to also set yourself up to operate in trustworthy ways.

[00:27:53] If you know that a certain kind of a person is really difficult for you—as a therapist, I knew there were certain kinds of people that I would not be the best therapist for, partly because I would actually worry too much about them. And I just realized, no, I should not be their therapist. You know, I knew that about myself. But I could trust, with a little experience, to recognize that kind of a person and very early on, you know, and not take them on as a client and/or refer them fairly quickly for their sake, not just my own. OK.

[00:28:28] Any more? Really lovely, lovely sharing here. Ah, very good. Yeah. Thanks, Tom. OK, good. I think we have some time here. So, Tom, sometimes I just keep going on the sidebar even if someone’s hand is raised, but then I’ll see you. OK. How about, so, Isabelle, I’m going to ask you to unmute. OK? So, you can unmute yourself, Isabelle. And if I could just say this generally, Isabelle, I say this to everybody, if you have a question, please make it short and clear, focused on what I’m talking about tonight. OK. Pressure’s on. All right, Isabel.

Isabelle [00:29:14] It’s absolutely about, and you answered it a little bit with what you just said because that’s so clear that, you know, this self-knowledge that we are doing whatever we’re doing is, you know, that’s golden. Mindfulness gives us that. But for me, and I’m in the middle of this right now, and this phase of my growing up and maturing is exactly what you’re talking about and it impacts me at work. I’m in a really high pressure job that I love and been given a ton of responsibility, but I’m doubtful of my abilities all the time to the point where it’s not fun, you know? And some of it is unconscious. I can almost deal with what’s conscious and manage it and understand it, say, go away for now. We’ll talk later. Whatever. But the stuff that’s unconscious, what do you do about that? You know, like, because some times I’ve done things and said things that are, at times, can be a little self-sabotaging even.

Rick Hanson [00:30:18] Yeah. Well, it’s a very universal, I think, question or situation, Isabelle. And I’ll just offer kind of a few headlines. Anxiety, in general, increases self-doubt. So, doing things to manage anxiety and lower anxiety are really good. A lot of people have written about that, taught about it. I’ve written and taught a lot in the book Resilient, in my programs, also, a lot of free meditations and stuff on my website, different ways to kind of lower anxiety in general. So, that would be a big headline here, I think.

[00:31:02] Second is to use the self-doubt and use the mistrust to prepare and train appropriately. You know, knowing that you really have prepared reduces a lot of feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. So, for example, if I’m going to give a talk, especially a new kind of presentation, I will overprepare. When I took my licensing boards as a psychologist, I was a maniac. I prepared because I did not want to have to wait another six months to take the dumb test again. You know? And I felt like when I rolled into it, I felt like a pole vaulter who had prepared for an 18-foot bar and the bar was actually set at 15 feet. But boy was I glad for that cushion. You know what I mean? Right? So, prepare and just know that no one is going to outwork you. No one is going to outprepare you. You are going to prepare. I mean, that can really help a person feel better.

[00:32:02] If you’re going into a tough interaction and you don’t quite trust yourself to keep your cool or to not get sucked into their drama or movie or, you know, B.S., prepare. Like, I would write out things I wanted to say before going into a tough conversation with a family person. Or I wanted to make sure I hit the key points and didn’t get distracted from the main line that I wanted to stay on. Prepare. You know, there’s a place for that. We can’t prepare for everything. But preparation gives you confidence in yourself, right?

[00:32:33] Next one is to keep in mind the difference between small things and big things. You know, a small thing is you might look a little foolish for a moment. And you know, people recognize this. Maybe they realize that you’re kind of a good-hearted, enthusiastic person who has her heart on her sleeve and is well-intended and may not remember every single detail around, but is going to keep coming back and is going to keep doing a good thing. You know, people see us. It’s OK. Right? And so the point is to help yourself realize the dreaded experience, the worst case. What’s the worst case? The worst case is I might look a little foolish. But then people are going to watch me cleaning up the next day. And realize, the truth is, most people do not clean up their messes. Most people do not correct. Most people do not acknowledge responsibility. And to be a person who looks a little foolish and then cops to it the next day is going to earn you so many gold stars. That’s really worth remembering. And all that is different from a firing offense or something that’s going to, you know, put a felony on your record. Don’t do that stuff. But otherwise, you know, to remember, it’s going to be OK. Nothing fatal here. All right? And I’ll just leave it right there. Those are things that I’ve used. And then over time. Work on the inner issues. Lots of resources there on my website and elsewhere. OK, thank you, Isabelle. Thank you very much.

[00:34:10] OK, I see that there was Zoom user and then I saw somebody else coming up. So, I’m going to ask you to unmute. There you are, Zoom user. Great. Yep.

Zoom user [00:34:21]  Zoom user. So, it’s really an observation for me that doing what you say is adult. You know? You have to be an adult. In other words, it sounds great in certain ways, of course, but there are consequences and responsibilities when you accept these things. It’s, you know, you’re not hiding as much.

Rick Hanson [00:35:03] Oh, that’s fantastic. I really appreciate you saying that. I’m still working on becoming an adult in that sense. Thank you. OK, I want to speak to a question that came in really on the chat. 7:16 p.m. Trinity. How should a person deal with issues such as performance anxiety? I can mentally believe in myself. Yet, when it comes time to audition or perform by body responds with paralyzing stage fright. Really important. To put it a certain way, in effect, there are levels of self-trust. There are levels of trusting yourself, levels of appropriate confidence. And certainly there’s a place, and I spoke of that a lot here tonight, of just rational understanding, recognizing that a lot of our self-criticism is not accurate. It’s not true, or it’s exaggerated. It’s blown out of proportion. There’s a place for that. But then the deeper levels of self-trust are more emotional and somatic, which, no surprise, is where the mistrust got laid in when we were really, really young, especially pre-verbal, pre-conceptual in very early childhood. And there can be just things in which the body just takes over, like with performance anxiety.

[00:36:28] So, what we can do—and there are people who are involved in the psychology of peak performance, sports psychology, and people like that, you can look into what they talk about. But basically, what we do increasingly is we try to help the learning become more and more embodied so that in the moment of performance, it’s more that embodied learning that kind of takes over and we give ourselves over to that more and more deeply learned, more and more emotionally saturated and somatically saturated way of being. We deepen a way of being about a performance challenge, such as making music in public, right, you know, auditioning or performing. You know, what is the way of being we want to inhabit? What is the way of being we want to inhabit us, to be established in us, including especially the embodied aspects of it? So we developed that over time. We train in that and they’re specialists, let’s see, Trinity, that, you know, focus on that, whatever the area is, music and other areas. So, I can’t speak to that. I’m not a specialist there. But I think the fundamental process is to establish a way of being. I did that with rock climbing. And then increasingly trust that way of being. Right? And with repetition, help it get deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.

[00:37:56] All that said, I’ve known people who use beta blockers. That really helped with their performance because it just flattens. It’s medication. I’m not prescribing. Talk to a physician. But beta blockers can reduce the motor, the muscular aspects of anxiety. OK.

[00:38:14] So, I see no more hands up. Let’s see what else is coming in in the chat sidebar. Yeah. Good comment, 7:24 Zoom user, thank you for that one. Maybe there’s another Zoom user. But anyway, to feel disappointed in myself when I don’t act out of trusting myself. Second Arrow, second dart. Yeah, so don’t get mad at yourself for getting mad at yourself. It keeps on going. OK, good. Let’s see here. Yeah, OK, good, I just see so many wonderful comments, just really great.

[00:39:05] I like the idea, from Elaine, of an experimental attitude. Running experiments, that’s another thing. A lot of things are uncertain, key point. We don’t know what the outcome will be, so we can’t trust ourselves to produce a perfect outcome or a 100 percent guaranteed perfect outcome. That kind of trust in itself is impossible. But what we can trust ourselves is to run well-intended experiments and to learn from the results. As the jury of reality fills in and renders its verdict, we can learn from that. We can trust ourselves. And that framing, by the way, as experiments, is really, really helpful, especially if you’re afraid, you know, if something bad might happen if you kind of loosen up a little or try something or just kind of trust yourself in some way, you know, there might be some fear that, oh, if I do that, something terrible happened. So you could run a little experiment, loosen up a little bit in that way, swing out a little bit in that way, and then see what happens. Frame it as, OK, I’m going to see what happens. If, you know, I can’t trust myself in that area to see someone clearly, well, I’m going to learn from that and I’m going to put in some corrections. So, when that kind of person comes around the bend next time, I’m going to recognize them better. You know? I’m going to learn from that. That can give you a lot more room to breathe. It really helped me.

[00:40:29] You know, in my home growing up, failure was not an option. So, I was like, Oh, I always have to succeed at everything, always. And to give yourself the benediction, the blessing, it’s OK, it’s OK to take a little risk. It’s a careful risk. It’s not a catastrophic, you know, risk. Take a little risk. And then when it goes, OK, learn, you know, learn from that. When it goes well, learn from that. And if it doesn’t go well, learn from there too. And trust yourself to be able to learn whatever happens. OK.

[00:41:14] Yeah, I see comments coming in. OK, Lisa at 7:27, very touching comment. I’m going to embark on a divorce and I’m so anxious about handling my own financial affairs. You know, not having confidence in that. Maybe realistically not having confidence in that. The anxiety paralyzes me from taking the necessary steps to manage or organize my money. This is also tied into fear of spending because of unfounded scarcity complex. Ideas? Great. So, one extremely important form of self-trust is to trust yourself to look for expertize and to trust yourself to get a second opinion about something that really matters, like your life savings or the legalities of going through a divorce. For many people, a divorce will be the single largest financial event in their lifetime, all told, for many, many people. So, you know, get good at marriage. If need be, get good at divorce if that’s what you’re in. It’s like, you know, I have friends right now who are grappling with cancer, and part of what they’re dealing with is, all right, get good at being a cancer patient, get good at managing or dealing with an illness. You know? Whatever that might be. So, part of getting good at something is turning to trustworthy expert advice and getting multiple good opinions. They can help us.

[00:43:02] Also, it’s helpful to identify key skills and to trust yourself are getting better at them. You know, how do you know how to balance a checkbook if that’s relevant? Do you know how to go online at, whatever, Schwab or Vanguard or whatever to see how much money you have? You know, Wells Fargo or whatever your bank is, do you trust yourself to know where your passwords are? You know, just basic skills of management. And remember that unless you’re, you know, Melinda Gates level of money, managing money in most cases is sort of like basic fourth grade arithmetic. It’s lemonade stand arithmetic. Money in money out, hopefully more is coming in than is going out. You know? And managing the nest egg there and all the rest of that. And in terms of fears of spending and all the rest of that, it’s also helpful to put things—to trust yourself to put them in black and white. It’s OK. Can you add two plus three? How much is two plus three? Four? Seven? No, it’s five. Right? OK, you got that. You’re good. So, write stuff down. Keep records. Trust yourself to do that. Maybe bring in someone. Spend a little money to save a lot of money by getting a little help with somebody who can help you with something. It’s OK here, too. You know these are—it’s OK to be practical. These resources can help us trust ourselves. And then, very important, let the learning sink in. Let the learning sink in that you can trust yourself in these ways.

[00:44:35] So, I’d like to, you know, kind of finish up here now that we’re half past the hour. I’d like to really encourage you—kind of those three major takeaways, right? Recognize delusion. Recognize, you know, unnecessary, unrealistic, inaccurate, unwise, unhelpful self-doubt and feelings of criticism that’s just inappropriate. Recognize that. Second, understand why you can trust yourself and understand what you can trust in yourself. Pardon me. And third, live from that trust. You know, give more over to what you can trust inside yourself. Live more from behaviors that help you be reliable and trustworthy and learning along the way. And live from trust, including trusting the depths of yourself and your own natural, fundamental goodness, and even trusting, if it’s meaningful for you, what, in Zen, some call the great perfection.

[00:45:42] So, let’s take a minute or a few breaths. Let’s take a few breaths now to kind of let it sink in. And then we’ll end formally. Very good. Thank you very much. And I trust that you will make good use as you see fit of what we’ve explored tonight.



Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

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