We all have moments when self-doubt creeps in. Whether we are on the fence about changing careers or we are unsure if the life partner we have chosen is right for us, we may second-guess our decisions, our desires, even our needs. In Trusting Yourself: Growing Your Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, and Self-Reliance, M.J. Ryan helps us stop questioning and start taking self-assured action.
Ryan is one of the creators of the bestselling Random Acts of Kindness series. Her other titles include The Happiness Makeover, Attitudes of Gratitude, The Power of Patience, The Giving Heart, and 365 Health and Happiness Boosters. A so-called “an expert in human fulfillment,” she has given speeches and workshops across the country.
In this book, Ryan describes self-trust as a virtue, created by combining self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-reliance. Touching on the issues that cause us to not develop it, or to lose it, Ryan writes, “We have been so indoctrinated into looking outside ourselves for the answers and to consider ourselves unreliable that we have very limited notions of what it means to approach life” trusting ourselves.
She also goes on to explain that the book is not intended to point out all the flaws that riddle the reader’s life; instead, it is an invitation to self-awareness and self-discovery, to find the gifts we may have pushed aside or never realized. By discovering these gifts, we can learn what our place in the world is, she writes: “what your matchless contribution might be.”
Repeatedly, Ryan calls on the reader — sometimes subtly, sometimes directly — to look within for answers, rather than look to the outside world or other people. A great question that she poses for readers is “What do I want to say yes to right now?”
The section on ways to increase self-trust is essentially bullet points. There is no elaborate plan here. Some of the ideas that Ryan delivers include:
- Have an inner booster
- Relax your mind to remember facts or names
- Be like Julia Child and say, “You can’t win them all!”
Trusting Yourself is not intended to be a fix-all program. This is not like a workbook that you check off as you complete each guided step. Rather, through compassion, real life examples, and understanding, Ryan guides her readers to explore the inner workings of their own minds, find the roadblocks to their self-trust, and push through them. Ryan does not sugarcoat the negative, but instead offers another perspective to shift our outlook.
“Self-trust is the capacity to embrace our individuality so that we may fulfill our destiny,” Ryan writes. “Understanding that we don’t have to be everything allows us to accept our originality in all its splendid particulars.”
I will happily admit there were several nuggets like the above that I underlined while reading, and that I have considered adding to a daily affirmation jar. The book is not just a collection of fluff, however. Some of Ryan’s insights will cause the reader to take a deep breath to collect themselves before moving on.
Trusting Yourself is definitely worth adding to your collection if you are interested in pursuing self-growth. Do not plan to just plow through this one, though. You will want to settle in for several days to really immerse yourself in the read. Brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab a blanket and a notebook, and prepare for some introspection, self-discovery — and, perhaps, light growing pains.
Trusting Yourself: Growing Your Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, and Self-Reliance
Conari Press, July 2015
Paperback, 176 pages