Writer Dr. Claire A. Rene, MBA, ED.D

Even now as an older adult, I can hear my mother whispering in my ear, telling me how to talk to people, raise my daughter, and dress for work.


I confess, much of her sage advice was both useful and meaningful. But here’s the problem with that: when you give those around you the power to influence how you think, as I gave my well-meaning mother, it can debilitate your long-term decision-making abilities in multiple ways.

  1. You minimize the validity of your own gut feelings and more often defer to the advice of others.
  2. You second guess your decisions, even if the outcomes are favorable.
  3. You find other people’s decisions smarter than yours. “Wow, why didn’t I think of that!” becomes a common inner-thought.

Underdeveloped decision-making skills lead to a lack of self-trust, and if you can’t trust yourself, then who can you trust? The answer is likely, no one. Therein lies a multitude of problems that can impact every area of our lives, from our intimate relationships and how we perform at work, to how we raise our children and respond to conflict.

Ask yourself these five simple questions, and you can discover if you trust yourself implicitly, or if, like a lot of us, your self-trust muscle needs a little workout.

  • Do you spend a lot of time regretting past decisions?
  • Is it difficult for you to receive compliments for an accomplishment?
  • Are you constantly comparing yourself to others?
  • Is it hard for you to move forward with a plan to better yourself?
  • Do you focus more on your flaws than your strengths?

Now, if you answered yes to more than two of these questions, don’t despair. There are a number of key behavioral strategies used in the study and practice of Emotional Intelligence that can help you. EI, as it’s also known, is a form of social science popularized by Dr. Daniel Goleman. It is the ability to recognize and manage your emotions, and other people’s, to produce favorable outcomes. Over 80% of our decisions are based on our emotions, so the right Emotional Intelligence strategies can steer us to better decision making efforts and self-trust development. Let’s get to them!

  • CELEBRATE YOUR GOOD DECISIONS. When you make a good decision and the outcome is favorable, write it down in a journal and applaud yourself.
  • TOUGH OUT THE TOUGH TIMES. When you make decisions and the outcomes are unfavorable, take a moment to reflect (yes, it can be painful) before responding. Sometimes because we rush to respond rather than taking time to process the situation, we miss key teachable moments.
  • REJECT THE NEGATIVITY. Negative conversations and thoughts suppress optimism. You need to remove the negative influences from your life and cultivate an optimistic approach in order to make good decisions and solve problems.
  • FACTS OVER EMOTIONS. EI theorists say the best decisions are made when you have all the facts and have considered all outcomes. Think about what you need, based on facts, versus what you want, often based purely on emotions. Prudent decisions are made when our emotions are kept in check.
  • FINALLY, SEEK ADVICE AND NOT OPINIONS. According to the dictionary, opinions are based purely on perspective, whereas, advice is ‘educated counsel’ given by a subject matter expert, like an attorney, doctor or accountant. When you need more validation than your own gut, it is okay to seek help, but it’s best if it comes from an informed source, rather than someone who may have questionable motives that may lead to your confidence being eroded.

Following these Emotional Intelligence strategies requires a level of intentionality, a degree of patience, and a willingness to be kind to yourself at all times, along the way. I believe in these strategies and in developing self-trust, because they hold the key to unlocking a truer version of who we are.

 


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