Tag Archive: self-trust

Trust and Small Moments

Who do you trust? And why?

Last week I went to one of the local coffee shops in my neighborhood – I do a lot of my writing in coffee shops — and discovered it had changed its business hours for the third time this summer. I was frustrated, but even more, decided not to even try to go there again. I was disappointed and even though I knew it wasn’t personal, felt a little betrayed.

A little girl tells her best friend a secret, and that friend tells another friend, who tells someone else, until the original secret comes back to the girl.  She feels embarrassed, hurt and betrayed. What would have happened if her best brined had kept her secret instead?  We all know the answer to that, because we’ve all been there:  that little girl would have felt valued.

Loosing trust with a friend is a lot more painful than losing trust with a coffee shop, but it’s the same process:  We expect a certain kind of behavior from them that is consistent with what they mean to us. We become vulnerable in our expectation, and form a bond of trust with the other as a result. That bond is broken if we feel betrayed. The trust might be broken in a big way – like a friend breaking a secret – but most often it happens in little ways.

John Gottman in his research found that trust is built in the smallest of moments. He called these moments Sliding Door moments, after a movie of that name, where the life of the main character was significantly altered based on a decision taken in a single moment.

He discovered that each of these small moments are one of two things: either a moment of trust, or a moment of betrayal. That friend has a moment to decide: will she keep a secret or tell others?  A single moment with one of 2 opposite results.

This not only applies to ourselves with others, it also applies to self-trust and self-betrayal.  In fact, every act of trust-building and betrayal we do with others, we also do with ourselves. That time you knew in your gut that something was wrong, but chose to ignore it in favor of the business connection to someone you don’t really like that might benefit you later on; or pretending not to see a friend when you see him across the street.  We betray ourselves when we don’t listen to what our gut is telling us, and then we betray our business contact through insincerity. We betray our principles when ignoring a friend, and betray our friend by lying to him through pretense.  One small moment; two big results.

So, the first step in building trust with others is to build trust with ourselves. Once we trust ourselves, the rest will simply happen.  And the way we build self-trust is in the small moments of the every day. It’s something we can train ourselves to do. Here are three things you can do right now:

  • Notice when you ignore what you know is true or real in favor of some overwhelming desire. That glazed donut you see after being hung up on by a customer service rep, for instance, when you know the sugar rush will do nothing good for your body. Even if you succumb to the lure of the donut, simply register in your awareness what just happened.
  • Take a few unscheduled moments every day to check in. Set the alarm on your phone to ring at random times, and when it rings, take a few deep breaths, and check in to see if you’re doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, or not. Think of it as a “retraining” of your whole body to learn to recognize, catch and turn around something that you would otherwise remain unaware of.
  • When you catch yourself ignoring something – it will happen – be gentle. Building self-trust takes time; it’s something that we can form as a habit, and habits always take time to build. Harsh self-criticism doesn’t help to build self-trust.  Just the opposite – it undermines your efforts.  Learn to accept that you slipped this time, see if you can catch how it happened, and then move on.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Brene Brown – The Anatomy of Trust

Quote of the Week

I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
― Maya Angelou


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co


Trust, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

Trust, one of the 7 pillars of mindfulness

I’m part of a coaching support group, where we practice being coaches on each other.  Contrary to some opinions, I find that coaches use many of the same techniques that therapists do, and being part of this group reminded me of what it was like testing my wings as a new therapist.  I remember watching the teachers conduct hot seats in front of us (a “hot seat” happens when a therapist and client work in front of an audience, generating “heat” simply by exposure for both of them; for this very reason, hot seats tend to generate fast results, when done well); as I watched, I marvelled at how brilliant the therapist was and wondered if I’d ever reach that level of competence – doubting at the time that I would.  Needless to say, over the years since, practicing and meeting with clients every day, I have reached that level – and it feels good, because I’m genuinely helping people achieve their dreams in the process.

The secret comes from trusting myself and the process.  In both coaching and therapy, the work involves the building of a trusting relationship between the coach or therapist and the client.  The client has to feel safe enough to speak openly and honetly; the coach or therapist has to be open and present and trust herself enough to go with what she sees and responds to, and to be able to say when she herself is stuck or confused.  Both need to trust that this process will lead to worthwhile results.  There isn’t a session I have with a client where I don’t learn something about myself as well as about my client.  It’s a process that benefits both of us, as long as there is trust.

When I first started to apply what I learned as a new therapist, I made the mistake of following instructions, so that I found I was completely “in my head” and equally completely out of touch with my body.  When that happened, there was no learning, no relationship-building, and no trust. The client left feeling dissatisfied and I was left feeling guilty and inadequate.

The way to trust is in being authentic and open, and in remaining in touch with our essential selves, which is always revealed in how we physically respond to our world.  For instance, if I were to think of a past event that brought me pain, my body will immediately register certain sensations – for me, it will be a feeling of tightness in my chest, like there was a heavy metal ball in the centre of it.  If on the other hand, I were to think of a past event that brings me pleasure, I feel a feathery kind of expansion in my chest.  When a client says something that grabs my attention, I feel that sense of expansion.  If I follow that interest, something always comes of it. If I ignore it, the session is pretty much done.

My challenge to you is this: discover in yourself how your body responds to painful and pleasant events. For one day, use this knowing to guide you, and at the end of it, take a moment to see how your day went, and how it left you feeling.

I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt. ― Maya Angelou

I first read of the 7 pillars of mindfulness in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on mindfulness Full Catastrophe Living. These pillars are Buddhist principles that help us be present and mindful in our everyday living. The 7 meditations I offer to anyone who signs up on my website www.thejoyofliving.co are based on these, and I use them in my own meditation practice.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .