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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Learning to Trust: Opening to Your Life

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 12th 2011

opening to sunFor the most part I would say many of us suffer from a massive lack of self-trust. Trust is born while we’re in the womb and during our early years of life. The more our parents attuned to us, listened to and validated how we were feeling, the more we cultivated the ability to trust ourselves and the people around us. The opposite of this may have been growing up with parents who seemed indifferent, neglecting or abandoning. When this happens it becomes difficult to trust ourselves and others. Even if you think you had a “great childhood” you may still have difficulty trusting yourself, so how do we cultivate trust?

This is where I am a big believer in learning how to cultivate a welcoming and caring relationship to the difficult parts of ourselves. For many people, it may be easy to go with the flow when we’re feeling well, but when shame, anger, sadness, or fear arises, forget about it. We’ll do all that we can to get away from it because we don’t trust that we can tolerate it.

The more we run, the more that feeling sticks around.

David Richo wrote a book called Daring to Trust and part of the book speaks to using mindfulness as a path toward learning how to Trust and believe in ourselves.  He says:

“All of us have been lied to, deceived, or let down in some way. Yet we can remain heart-centered while proceeding with caution, and we can develop the greater resilience in the face of life’s inevitable rejections and disappointments.”

Richie Davidson, PhD says resilience is the maintenance of high level of affect in the face of adversity. This means not getting swept up the in the storms of the unpleasant events of our lives.

How do we cultivate the ability to trust ourselves to do this?

We need to have the experience of it and that is where mindfulness comes in. Imagine a difficult emotion arising and having the ability to take a step back from it and look at the formation, color and shape of it from a bit of distance. You recognize that this emotion is arising within you, but the lens is peeled back a back and not you are watching it, not swept up in it. You notice it shifting and changing shape and over a period of time, certain associated thoughts and images wash in and out of the scene and it begins to dissipate.

After this is done a message gets sent to your mind, that “I can handle this storm and it’s all going to be ok.”

This is a message that waters the seeds of the belief that you can trust and rely on yourself.

What more important belief is there than that?

For more information on where to get started practicing mindfulness, just type it into Google, buy A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, sign up for a class at or find a class close to you. All of these are great options.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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