One Element of Self Trust Hinges on Letting Go of What Other People Think

by | Nov 6, 2022 | Dying/Death, Intrusive Thoughts, Trust Yourself | 17 comments

I had planned to share about something else this week for the podcast. I was going to tell a story about a moment in a corn maze with our family, Victoria, and her boyfriend when we were in New Jersey a few weeks ago. As you can hear in the video below (click on the photo to see and hear the short video), Victoria says, “Sheryl, you should get a video in here for your Trust Yourself course.”

What she was referring to in that moment was how navigating a corn maze requires self-trust. But about thirty seconds after she said that, I turned around and said, “I don’t want to do this.” I had started to feel anxious in the maze, and I remembered in a flash that I loathe mazes! Without second-guessing myself, I did an about-face and announced to the group that I would meet them out front.

Victoria said that she would join me and the two of us made a hasty exit no less than twenty feet from the entrance of what appeared to me to be a maze from hell :). Instead of torturing myself with what would, indeed, turn out to be an endless zigzag of dead-ends, the two of us sat on a lovely bench talking about donut-dreams (see our Gathering Gold episode on Dreamwork), autumn, and everything in between.

It turned out to be the only time we would be alone together all weekend, and it never would have happened if I hadn’t trusted myself and instead had forced myself to remain in the maze.

What went through my head when I decided to trust my body’s instinct of NO and turn around? Many different thoughts.

The first was: “I hate this. I don’t feel safe when I can’t see an entrance or exit. My body knows this.”

The second was: “But if I turn around, what will other people think? Shouldn’t I be more ‘evolved’ around my anxiety? After all, anxiety is what I teach and talk about every day.”

The next thought was: “Who cares? Let’s get out of here!

Mind you, these thoughts occurred simultaneously in the span of a nano-second. But as soon as I announced that I was leaving, my body exulted in exhale. And when Victoria said that she was coming with me, I positively glowed with joy.

When I was laying in bed later that night, I texted her to suggest that we start our next Gathering Gold episode on self-trust with that story: of how one element of trusting ourselves hinges on not caring what other people think.

We were going talk about self-trust and the myriad ways it can show up: how it’s a primary spoke on the relationship anxiety wheel; how it’s at the core of struggling with intrusive thoughts; how it shows up in career anxiety; how lack of self-trust interrupts our ability to make decisions with ease. I was excited to delve into this rich and multi-layered territory with my dear Victoria.

But then life happened. And death. And I ended up recording the most recent episode of Gathering Gold on my own (Victoria still did the masterful editing; she’ll be back soon). As I made space for the grief that has entered our family, I ended up telling a different story about the intersections between self-trust, grief, and the body.

I also talked about what it looks to watch Everest navigate a situation that I know activated a lot of self-doubt for people who find their way to my work back when they were seniors in high school. It’s a different episode since I’m flying solo: more quiet as I honor grief and more personal as I share some of what’s happening in our family life.

Thank you for listening. I welcome your comments below.

And if you would like to join us for this 18th round of Trust Yourself: A 30-Day Course to Help You Overcome Your Fear of Failure, Caring What Others Think, Perfectionism, Difficulty Making Decisions, and Self-Doubt, I would love to connect with you there. The course starts on November 12th, 2022, and I won’t be offering it live for another year.



  1. Sheryl and Victoria, I’m sending you love around the present grief and transition. 😌❀️

    And the title of this blog post was exactly what I needed to see after an evening worrying about what random people sitting next to me were thinking about me. πŸ˜… It’s funny how hard it can be to stand in my own sometimes. πŸ™‚


  2. Thank you, Jamie πŸ™πŸ½. And I’m so glad that the title arrived at the right time πŸ˜‰.

  3. Hello Sheryl, would you be offering a discount to the trust yourself course for previous course participants for this round? Kindest Regards, Kirsten

    • Yes! Kathryn will be sending that out this week :).

  4. This is a topic that is coming up so strong for me right now. I just gave birth to my 3rd baby, and the experience has been a struggle with self doubt and self trust. while I was expecting a calm, intimate delivery like with my first two children, for a myriad of reasons things didn’t go as planned. my epidural didn’t work well and I felt much more than I ever felt before, and I was terrified. I ultimately was able to deliver a healthy baby, but afterwards felt like I was a failure for showing my feelings if fear and desire to quit during delivery. There were more staff in the room than previous births, and I felt that everyone must have been judging me for not being more calm as an experienced mother. Ultimately my doula helped my recognize how hard I was being in myself and embrace that this was my experience and there was no reason to be self critical. It felt scary and that’s okay.

    Now, I am struggling with self trust when it comes to naming the baby. We were wavering between two names, put one down on the birth certificate, and then this morning I woke up with pangs of regret and fear that we made a mistake. I wish I could let go of voices in my head of what other people will think about the name and just choose one that I love, but I keep getting myself twisted in knots of overthinking.

    • Sending big love. As often happens, birth can trigger deep-seated wounds and old patterns. When we don’t address those places directly, they can attach onto other areas, like the baby’s name. It sounds like there’s a very potent opportunity for you to lovingly address these old voices of self-doubt in a new way.

  5. Hi Sheryl,

    I’m so glad you wrote an article on self trust. I definitely struggle with this and it causes me to attach myself/ depend on people for reassurance, answers, opinions etc. I rarely make decisions without anyone elses input.

    This is causing an issue in my current relationship because I don’t always trust my partners opinion or feel confident in what he says. As a result, I go to everyone but him for my problems. It’s almost like I don’t value or trust what he says. It’s not like he’s not smart, or puts me in bad situations. He’s a great partner but because he too isn’t the most confident or second guesses himself It makes it hard for met to feel like I can rely on him in that way.

    I’ve noticed I usually attach myself to people based on what I feel I lack and what I feel they have and because we’re pretty similar I struggle to feel like I need him. What are your thoughts? What can I do?

  6. Oh, thank you for sharing the maze experience! I was holding my breath as I began reading this because I’m terrified of mazes.

    Then to hear that you chose to honour and respect yourself in that moment, as well as the whole thought process, what will others think, etc… It felt so honest and gentle and gives me permission to do the same.

    (Also to hear that you were able to share some quality time with your niece, that felt so good to read, I felt happy for you both).

    Sending support during this challenging time, to you and your family.

    • I’m glad it was helpful, Lorena, and thank you for your kind words πŸ™πŸ½.

  7. Just when I thought I’ve seen all the courses I need from you LOL! I’ve particularly struggled with trusting myself for years. Im super hard on myself and its made me very critical and judgmental of my partner. I truly believe once I learn how to fully love and trust myself everything will change. Thank you for this!

  8. First, I just want to say I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t really think of anything to say beyond that cause everything else just feels like what people say to try and fix grief, and that’s not the point- except sending love πŸ₯°.

    And thank you for this post and this episode. I find myself mentally arguing, particularly when you say “your body knows your sleep rhythm.” I don’t know if mine ever has, but I suppose it’s my brain who’s never listened to what my body wants around sleep.

    I was interested, too, because I’ve done the central-column meditation before with different outcomes. Honestly, because of where my anxiety sits I struggle with the central-column because of the last part- I think in one recording instead of “belly” it was referred to as “pelvis” and I don’t like to focus my attention there for very long (if at all).

    But I became interested by what showed up for me this time. I really tried to just let the first thing that came to mind be what I was feeling instead of overthink it, though I did judge myself a bit about the heart one. The thing that came to me when focusing on the head was the color purple. Purple is my favorite color, it’s the color of amethyst which is a very calming stone, it’s the color of the crown chakra, and I am surrounded by purple in my room. What came to mind focusing on the heart is where I judged myself a little. What came to mind was Dr. Lance Sweets- the psychologist, and my favorite character from Bones, who I deeply connect to as he is compassionate, highly intuitive, and always searching for the truth. In the show, his reason for becoming a psychologist is nearly identical to my reason for becoming a storyteller- childhood trauma which translated into a desire to help people. For some reason I carry a lot of shame for how attached I am to this character, and I’m not sure why, but I tried to put the judgement aside for now. What came to mind when I got to the belly, as i put my hand over my womb, was the Motherpeace Tarot Card The Moon, which i thought was interesting as you talked about fire, and it’s a very watery card. However, it is also very much about trust, and turning inward. It’s also my favorite tarot card. The final thing I found interesting is that I associate all three of the aforementioned things with the astrological sign of Cancer, which is my sun sign and something I’ve always identified strongly with.

    • Thank you for sharing your process, Riley, including the places of resistance. What’s fascinating is that the belly area is also associated with water even though I talked about the fire association. You seemed to know that intuitively! I think it’s beautiful that you have strong connections to fictional characters. I hope you can release your shame around that.

  9. Oof, I feel very nervous commenting publicly like this. But seeing as I enrolled in my first ever course with you, the upcoming ‘trust yourself’, I guess I better start getting used to pushing through that if I’m to be able to fully participate in it!
    Thank you for the very personal story you shared. I definitely see the value that you saw in your decision to not go through the maze. But I gotta say, as I was reading, I was quite surprised as I was expecting the story (and the lesson) to go in the completely opposite direction! I read a ton of your blog posts and their messages are always encouraging us to face our fears head on, to not listen to the loud and anxious “No!”s coming from within as there’s no doubt growth waiting for us on the other end of that fear; to feel the discomfort, while we continue onward in order to gain more freedom from getting to the other end of the fear-fence. I accept that you felt this was the right decision for you, and I’m sure that this just goes to show that there are never any ‘recipes’ for life, as any fixed ‘direction’ taken 100% of the time is bound to lead us astray. But for sure people terrified of flying would say that they absolutely loathe getting into planes and feel unsafe trapped in a metal box miles above the earth, and yet I know that your advice would be to get on the plane, not take ‘the easy way out’. You share a lovely bonding moment with your niece as ‘proof’ (for you) that you made the ‘right’ choice, but what if in the other scenario you would be able to say “If I’d listened to my anxiety and left I never would have had this xyz amazing bonding and growth experience with my family”.
    My first thought is that it depends which choice makes us feel like we’re shrinking from fear, and in your example perhaps you just refused to shrink from the ‘What will others think?’-worry. I know this isn’t a simple question, that it requires building wisdom within oneself to learn to make decisions in the moment, but I just wanted to point out that maybe sometimes, going into a feared situation can be the ‘right’ decision?
    (Having said all that, it would take an army to get me into a maze πŸ™‚ )

    • I appreciate your comment and I look forward to connecting on the course :).

      It’s about knowing ourselves well enough to know when to push and when to honor. You’re right: there isn’t a formula for this; it’s case-by-case and moment-by-moment. Sometimes it’s most loving to push through the fear and have the experience, and sometimes it’s most loving to honor and say, “This is the limit of my capacity and I’m going to choose to honor and listen.” I am one who does not relish the experience of flying, but I do push myself every time to get on the plane because it’s aligned with my value to have the travel experience with my family. And I’m always glad I did.

      • Thank you for your answer. I love it. It definitely shined a light for me.
        I now see it like parenting a real child, sometimes you have to push them a bit to push through a fear (either for their own safety, like having a necessary medical procedure; or to help them overcome a fear so they don’t end up stuck with it) and mustn’t allow them to back down, and sometimes you have to coddle them and not challenge them at all; neither done 100% of the time would be healthy. (I don’t have children, but I think that’s the gist)
        Requires monster amounts of wisdom and intuition, I’ll say that! Even just for ourselves, let alone another human being!

  10. To be honest, this post makes me feel anxious. It makes me feel like turning away from your fears is the right answer. My propensity is to take this post as a sign or make it mean something about my life. Trusting in my fears being valid sounds like limiting thing.


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