ERP 116: How To Regain Trust And Self-Confidence When You’ve Lost It [Transcript]

ERP 116: How To Regain Trust And Self-Confidence When You’ve Lost It

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Welcome to The Empowered Relationship Podcast, helping you turn relationship challenges into opportunities and setting you up for relationship success. Your host, Dr. Jessica Higgins, is a licensed psychologist and relationship coach who shares valuable tips, tools and resources for you to dramatically improve your relationship.

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Thank you for joining today’s podcast episode. Thank you for carving out time in your day to contemplate relationship with me as I offer thoughts, tips, tools, strategies for you to consider. Always, I’m wanting you to be the ultimate judge around what is going to be something you’re going to try to implement or practice. What I’m bringing to you, yes, is based on experience, education, research. Yet, I want to acknowledge and respect your particular journey. Even though I am talking to you about all of these principles, I also really want to acknowledge that I really respect your wisdom. So, encouraging you to have a critical mind and heart as you embark on this conversation with me, and with all of my episodes, if you’ve been a listener for a period of time.

On this show, my biggest intention is to help you be successful in relationship, however you define that and whatever that path might look like for you. What I’m bringing to you is my encouragement, again, based on what I know and what I have experienced, and that’s personally and professionally.

The conversation that I’m trying to hold here is, knowing in relationship we will be challenged, we will feel somewhat upset, we will feel a low, and how to be more skillful in negotiating out those lows. Also, that we desire to have real intimacy and passion and juice. Those are the highs. We want to expand our capacity to experience that. And that also, paying attention to the consistency, the security, and the health of your love and relationship. That that is solid. So I’m trying to cover many territories and ground, but that’s all under the umbrella of relationship.

Today’s topic, How to Regain Trust and Self-Confidence When You’ve Lost It. Today, I’m going to be answering a listener’s question, who would like to remain anonymous. And I’m going to be offering six tips to consider. If you are interested in gaining access to the show notes, you can find that on my website, which is, DrJessicahiggins.com. Click on Podcast, and you can find all the episodes there. The most recent ones are at the top. You can find the show notes by just clicking on which episode you’re interested in.

The show notes have a recap of the show, as well as a section titled, Mentioned, which gives you links from things that I might have referred to. And also, I would always encourage you to comment. I love hearing from you. It makes such a big difference and I do believe it supports the larger conversation. Let’s get started.

This episode is 116, How to Regain Trust and Self-Confidence When You Have Lost It. Again, this is a question coming from someone who would like to remain anonymous. I would just also want to appreciate you for your patience in my creating this episode. The listener writes:

“My biggest complaint is that my partner doesn’t trust me anymore. I’m from Germany, and I’ve listened to many of your podcasts. It really helped me to understand things better. My boyfriend and me, we are five years together. He is from a different country and we speak English together in our relationship although we live in my home country. I think it makes it sometimes difficult for us to express in a nice, or kinder, even maybe, playful manner. This just gives me the idea of how a show around international couples would be great.”

Yes, I totally agree. And she continues to say:

“But I think our real problem is that he’s 10 years older than me and he has been, before me, in a 12-year relationship with two kids and it was really unhappy relationship as she cheated on him. Before that, he was in a 4-year relationship, which was his first teen love and she died in an accident when she was 18. His parents never split up and he is a very helpful person, always looking for the needs of others.

I am just the opposite. My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. I had a relationship of one year when I was 16 and then most of the men and guys that I’ve dated, I never got serious with. I basically have no experience in living with a man before I met him. We really love each other. We’ve had many great experiences in the five years but we’ve also argued nearly every week. Most times, I have something in my mind I want to do without thinking about him because I’m used to getting what I want because I’ve been alone for so long. But he gets disappointed every time because he thinks I should think more about what he wants and what he needs.

And further, we always try to find a solution but most of the time, it feels as though I have to change. But I am feeling so unequal to him by that he always knows better. I’ve always had the feeling that he doesn’t trust me anymore, that I can do and finish something. I’ve changed myself because I don’t want to do something wrong. I ask him always how I should do things because in the end he knows better. This is really tough for me because I don’t feel the freedom anymore which I had when I lived alone. But we still love each other. I never want to lose him. We also want to have kids together and want to get married. I just lost some confidence and self-trust over the years. Thank you.”

First of all, listener, again, thank you for submitting your question. I agree that the bi-cultural aspect is significant and, as far as your communication, one tip that I’ll offer you, this isn’t one of the six that I’m going to suggest, but just on the bi-cultural note, is to slow things down. It might seem arduous, labor-intensive, but to flush out, perhaps, double meanings, or how you guys interpret things. Slowing it down will help you understand each other better and help you guys understand the history behind some terminology or the ways in which you’re using your phrasing.

I feel like when I speak to you, people that are new to the US, it’s common for Americans to use a terminology that is like a figure of speech. Most people are taken off guard by it. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and you might say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” And it would throw somebody who is not from America off, like, how is it raining cats and dogs? That makes no sense. Or, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Or, like I said, I’m from the Pacific Northwest and they often talk about Oregonians, or people from Portland, having webbed feet. And that just means that you’re always wet and that you kind of like have the duck feet. And it’s a figure of speech. But for somebody that doesn’t understand, that can really throw somebody off. So, to really take time to educate one another could help in your communication.

I want to acknowledge how much I hear your love for your boyfriend and your commitment to really developing a healthy relationship and investing in the quality of your relationship. I know it will pay off. I know it will be worth the effort. In reading your question, I had several thoughts and I have turned those into six tips for you to consider.

One, is value what you bring. One of the things that stood out to me is your saying how unequal you feel to him, and that he’s got more experience than you do in the way of relationship and living in a marriage or a partnership. Even if he does know better, even if he is so-called ‘right,’ in my mind, relationship isn’t about who’s right. It’s more about being in relationship and that takes two people to relate to one another with what’s genuine and what’s real. He fell in love with you. And if you don’t have as much experience, then that’s a part of what’s true for you. It’s a part of who you are. All you can do is start with where you are. If you have the desire to feel more equipped—you’re doing the right steps, listening to a relationship podcast, I don’t know if you’re doing other things. I have a couple other ideas for you in the next few tips. But more than anything, just to start where you are, love where you are. That’s a part of what’s real and honoring what you have to bring. This is one of the best ways to feel positive self-worth. You can’t actually be something you’re not. That only creates suffering and pain, trying to be something you’re not or know something you don’t know. That’s too far ahead of yourself. So, my first invitation is just to value you.

Really related to number 1, is find your truth. That’s my number 2 offer. It sounds like you’re open to learning how to live with someone and share your life with someone. You’re eager and you’re desiring to feel good at it, skillful at it. But again, I want to remind you, you don’t want to feel responsible for knowledge, wisdom, and experience that you have not yet gained. That’s asking a lot of yourself. It’s a set-up, like as I said, for feeling pain and suffering. Like my original point, you really want to honor what’s true and real. That’s where you get to grow from, with staying connected to yourself, not losing yourself, not trying to be someone you’re not or be further along than you are. Because you gaining—I get really passionate about this so I’m sorry if I come off a little overzealous here—but you gaining the experience and the wisdom is going to look different than someone else gaining the experience and the wisdom. It’ll look different on you. You have a unique expression. And I wouldn’t want you to give that up by trying to be further along and mimic or adopt someone else’s beliefs or strategies.

I want you to try to mind for yourself. I want you to learn for yourself. I really want to encourage for you to take in the feedback from your boyfriend. Look at his input as important. Really consider it and possibly gather more information, by getting resources online, listening to podcasts, books, asking friends, really having some heartfelt conversations, especially from people that appear or seem as though they live well together, people that have more experience. Maybe asking men, asking women, doing your own bit of gathering information, and really tuning into what feels right for you. “That feels like me,” or, “That sounds interesting,” or, “I like that,” or, “That fellow’s hard, I’m not sure if that’s really my style,” exploring what feels like and really tuning into where you find yourself in all of this. Because gaining your own insight will help you feel more confident and secure. You’ve done your due diligence. You can stand in a position that’s you in this territory. It’s not just, again, you adopting someone else’s position.

I have a couple podcasts that I would encourage you if you haven’t already listened to. They’re about confidence, they’re about assertiveness, and I will post them on the show notes. I just want to make a mental note here that living well together, if we really look at it from a bird’s-eye view, there’s so much involved. How you greet each other when you get home from the day, when you leave for the day, when you say, “Good night.” Those type of things matter to people. How you share meals, how you eat, what type of food you eat, who does all the shopping, who does the cooking, those type of things. Are you a late riser or are you an early riser?

Many years ago, I dated a guy and he had a very late schedule. He had the flexibility of work to go in around 10, and he stayed up really late. I was like, “I don’t know how to get on your schedule. I don’t know how to spend time with you because I have to be somewhere at 8 in the morning, so me staying up really late with you is going to be difficult.” And we worked it out but it definitely was something to negotiate. How you like quiet time and couple time. Do you socialize a lot? Do you stay in a lot? Who does the cleaning? How do you make decisions? Budgeting, and how you re-evaluate things, how you address conflict, how you share a space, all of these things. Not to mention, parenting, and the list goes on and on.

And most of us don’t actually have explicit conversations about these things. It’s amazing to me. Yes, sometimes we do or we kind of touch on it but we don’t actually necessarily put our heads together and look at, very openly, what are you used to, what do you like, what do I like and let’s look at, could we get to a win-win. And listener who posed this question, it does sound like you guys have been having conversations and really trying to look at this. And again, I’m offering you some things to consider, moving forward. A lot of these is not easy stuff. It does take practice. It does take work and you are doing the right thing. You’re making really great steps in just asking for help and getting some support here.

Number 3, develop a system of how you want to make decisions together. I just listed a few things that couples have to encounter. I didn’t even mention sex. There’s a lot of things that we could add to the list. But, if you have a system or if you have a way, a process, it can be applied to any topic, really. Whether or not you listen to music on a road trip or you talk or you do some combination. Or, do you actually like to take vacations where it’s super active or do you take vacations that are really relaxing and restorative?

So, if you have a process of how you make decisions, that’ll really help with whatever you’re encountering and whatever you guys want to accomplish together. Some couples have agreement around spending money. Anything over $50, we check in with each other. Or, as it relates to time, like, “I want to get a heads up around your plans if you’re going to schedule things on the weekends with other people.” So again, there’s different agreements that people can make around how to negotiate these things. Like, when we get an invitation, do we talk about it first? And so you’ll end up having more or less some agreements but then you also want to have a process around how you make decisions.

Number 4, learn how to deal with differences more effectively, and given any bi-cultural relationship, a bi-race relationship, there’s more to negotiate because there’s different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities to consider, not as a whole host of things. And depending on where you are in the world, this could relate to religion, this could relate to just culture, this could relate to, like I said, a lot of things. So just to kind of state that differences in relationship, on face value oftentimes feel like a conflict because there’s a seemingly at-odds position. You’re not on the same page and it feels like a huge hurdle or opposition. And most people, when they feel that tension, feel overwhelmed, or actually don’t know how to deal with it. They want to avoid it. And they have really no good way of dealing with conflict or feeling comfortable and setting that up for success, feeling confident about we can get through this and actually evolve, have something better that comes out of it. This typically takes some investment and some energy and tolerating some uncomfortable feelings.

This is one area that I get extremely excited about because I know the potential. So if you’re looking for more support, I encourage you to consider possibly taking my Connected Couples program that gives you not only the systems of how to make decisions together, give you protocol, essentially, of how to deal with conflict effectively where both people feel respected and valued, not one person dominating over the other. And then it gets to that win-win, and how to develop more intimacy and passion and how to kind of work through some of the sticky points of where we have expectations, and assumptions, and pain points, and previous past difficulties that get in the way. All of that is covered. So I encourage you to consider doing that. Actually in the next few weeks, I know I’ve been talking about this, I will have a self-paced version and it makes the price point extremely affordable and you can add on coaching hours if you’re interested in supplementing the self-paced program with some direct coaching from me. Two more points I want to share with you.

Five, hold space for him. Given some of his experiences, having his first girlfriend die at a very early age, that’s traumatic. Having his ex-wife cheat on him, that’s also very, very painful and could be very traumatic. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but it could be possible that he’s got some of his own emotion, there could be fear, anxiety that comes up, some insecurities, some difficulty that might be emerging for him in these situations where you have some difference or some conflict. If you’ve been listening to my recent podcast episodes, you might actually recognize some of the patterns. He may look to you to try to feel better, wanting you to do something different. If you would do X, I would feel better. I want to encourage you to check that out. I will post the podcast episode, for your convenience, on today’s show notes.

In holding space for him, if he’s disappointed, that’s one of the flags that you talked about in your question. He will feel disappointed. That can be an indicator to you that he’s got some emotion. And instead of quickly going to, how did I screw up or what did I do wrong, where did I make a misstep, stay curious with him. Wonder, what are you feeling? Can you tell me what’s going on for you? What’s your experience? You’re disappointed, tell me more. And then maybe even asking some prompting questions around, “Okay, it sounds like you’re wanting me to check in with you more. And if I checked in with you more, how would that make you feel?” It might make him feel more connected to you. it might help him feel respected, feel safe. I don’t know, that’s something to perhaps explore. And you may be surprised at what’s underneath that disappointment.

Number 6, hold a space for you. I kind of touched on this a little bit but understand you are learning. This territory is new. If you’ve listened to some of my other episodes, you may have gotten this voice from me that when something’s unfamiliar or foreign, you’re essentially in a learning curve. And one of the best environments for learning is more positivity, more understanding, and more encouragement. Opposed to getting down on yourself, being hard on yourself, expecting yourself to know things you didn’t have access to. That’s putting a lot of expectation, a lot of pressure, and a lot of burden, that can have a real downward spiral. So if you recognize this territory, it’s not easy, even for somebody that’s been in relationship, has some experience underneath their belt, still don’t know a lot of this, how to do this well. Just because he has experience doesn’t mean he is an expert. There could be some things that he could learn and that he could improve as well.

So coming back to you, if you could have some self-compassion to recognize this is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to challenge you. And it’s less about your performance. Did you do it right or did you not do it right? But I want to encourage you to have a learning attitude here around what is it that would help me grow. How can I gain more insight and wisdom in this? How do I support myself? Paying attention to where you feel vulnerable and where you might feel a little inadequate or insecure.

In a recent episode, I was sharing with you all about a client that’s been job interviewing and just the update, she did find a job, actually relatively quickly and it’s all good news. Again, that’s on the other side. But when I was sharing with you, she was in the learning curve of going on interviews, the uncertainty and really the unfamiliarity of what this train looks like and it’s, you’re on the spot, you’re being evaluated and it’s nerve-wrecking. And she was like, “I don’t know if something’s wrong with me. I’m nervous. This is uncomfortable.” And she was looking at, is there something I should be doing differently? And I was trying to encourage her, this is actually part of what it feels like. You get stronger the more you do it and you have more confidence the more you do it and you know the landscape a little bit more, so you know what to expect. And I also was just encouraging her to shift the question into, instead of what’s wrong with me, how do I support myself to tolerate this phase?

So if I’m hearing your question about, how do I live with someone well? How do we develop a way of relating where we can both win? This is a new thing that you’re learning. So instead of, what should I be doing? What should I not be doing? I want to encourage you to ask the question around, what would support me in learning this? Even as I say that question, it’s a totally different energy. I feel my heart and I feel more inclined to want to engage. I get excited, I get curious. I’m like, there are answers there. But if I get into, what did I not do, what I should do, it feels very black and white and kind of controlling and I don’t feel the same life. So if I can encourage the idea of supporting yourself and that positive environment of, what would support me in learning? What would support me in gaining more confidence, more security in myself, more trust in myself? I encourage you to ask yourself that question, or those questions. You might get some answers that are true for you that are really important to consider. You might get some valuable information from your internal place of knowing, your internal wisdom. Because again, a podcast is limited. I have not met you. I get a couple of paragraphs that I get to respond to, and I don’t have the rich texture of you and the uniqueness of you to really respond to. So I want to encourage that there’s some unique things that would be really specific to you to give space to you. Again, what would support me in learning? What would support me in feeling more confident, feeling more secure?

And being really honest with yourself, tuning in to what would help, and perhaps showing up for yourself when you get some answers or possibly some of what I’m suggesting resonates, and just giving yourself an opportunity to take a step. It’s not having the whole plan figured out, it’s just moving in the direction. This is all about progress, not perfection. Progress, not perfection. If you can connect with that, even if it’s sensitive, even if it’s vulnerable, it might be helpful to reveal that to your boyfriend, letting him know that this is a little sensitive. Sometimes you feel insecure and you are really learning, you do really want and, you want to feel his trust in you. But you also don’t want to, just like I’m saying some of this stuff, you don’t want to just be in the mode of trying to do what he thinks. You want to still say connected to you. and truthfully, this is where there’s a real irony in relationship. Particularly for women, there will be this implicit idea or expectation that the more we love, the more we give. And that if I love you, I’m going to give it to you.

And so it does feed this idea that we want to please, we want to serve, we want to give. Sometimes it can lead to losing ourselves because we’re so preoccupied in pleasing and accommodating and serving that we can lose touch with what’s real because we’re focused on someone else. We’ve lost touch with what’s real with us. And what’s ironic here is that what’s really attractive is oftentimes that confidence and that self-connection. Knowing thyself. If we look at someone on the street or at a mall or just somewhere in town and the way they hold their body and their posture and their movement and we can just get a vibe from them that they like themselves, they feel confident, and most of the time, that’s going to look extremely attractive. Regardless of what they’re wearing or their appearance, yes, appearance helps. But that confidence. And that is usually an attractor. And it’s very important for long-term relationships. We want to continue to nurture that attraction. The goal is not same-same. The goal is to still grow yourselves and maintain relationship in a healthy way. So we’re growing individually and we’re growing our relationships. So oftentimes, we feel that tension. And again, if you’ve listened to some of my recent podcasts, I talk a lot about that.

If you can reveal to him in a vulnerable way, he may want to help, not making it about him, but he may want to help you with some of your process, like feeling a little inadequate at times. I feel like I don’t always know what to do. I really want to please you and yet I also don’t want to lose myself. I still want to be true to me and I don’t always know what to do. And I sometimes feel the expectation of myself to want to move or have more information than I actually have. I’m still in process here. What would help would be, if you and I could be patient with one another. If we could slow it down, if we could have some more conversations around what we would like on the front end. If we could maybe work together to develop a way of operating that works for us both, where we both feel honored. Can we have some agreements?

I’m giving you a lot here. Again, if you would like support, feel free to reach out to me. My email is jessica@drjessicahiggins.com. I want to, again, just validate that this is some of the most challenging work. I would love to offer you a free relationship guide and this lays out the stages of relationship. What I’m hearing is possibly you’re in the power struggle stage. Negotiating the difficulty of that stage is one of the most difficult stages to negotiate. As I’ve talked about before, it’s the place where people break up, they seek help, or they get stuck. This one-page relationship visual gives you a sense of what’s involved in this stage, and the goals, and the skills required. If you don’t already have that, I encourage you to go to today’s show notes that can be found on my website, which is DrJessicaHiggins.com. Click on Podcast, look at Episode 116, How to Regain Trust and Self-Confidence When You’ve Lost It. Go down to the bottom where it says, Mentioned, and you’ll see the spot there that talks about the relationship map. It’s an opt in so you will have to plug in your email, but then you’ll get that one-page visual that lays this all out for you.

The six tips that I’m offering you today are, number 1, value what you bring, knowing that there is no one else in the world like you and that you have something special and unique to offer. Number 2, find your truth. Really get connected to what works well for you, especially as you’re encountering how to live well with someone, that you find yourself around what feels right for you. Number 3, develop a system of how you want to make decisions together. As a couple, really establishing a way, a process that you guys can both lean into and rely on and fit whatever topic you’re talking about in the process. But the process, you can begin to feel really confident that you’re going to get to a new place, a resolved place, a win-win place. Number 4, when you feel that conflict, learn how to deal with those differences more effectively. When you notice some opposition, you notice that tension, and it might even feel like a conflict, recognizing, okay, this is a time to treat this differently. Let’s put on that conflict resolution care and consideration and have some strategies around how to be sensitive and mindful when you’re in that area. Number 5, hold space for him. This is offering space for him to go deeper and reveal more vulnerably some of his emotion, what’s in it for him? And finally, number 6, hold space for you. Support yourself. Really know what you’re needing, what would help you as you learn how to live well with someone else.

I just want to encourage you to continue developing, because as you invest in the foundation of your relationship, especially wanting to move forward in marriage and having children, creating a family, you want to have these things worked. You want to have at least some of the foundation of this developed. Because it’s harder to establish it than it is to maintain it. Maintaining it does take effort and intention, but establishing it can be extremely tricky sometimes.

Again, consider possibly taking the Connected Couples program to really get support in doing that or feel free to reach out to me, jessica@drjessicahiggins.com. Perhaps consider some of what I’m offering you today and taking one step to support your confidence and trust.

Thank you for listening. If you have a relationship question or wondering, and would like for me to create a podcast episode on your question, feel free to email me, jessica@drjessicahiggins.com. You can also find ways to reach me on my contact page on my website, DrJessicaHiggins.com. I appreciate you, I acknowledge you, and I honor the work you’re doing, investing in the quality of your relationship. I am on this path with you and I am privileged to share in these episodes. Until next time, I hope you take great care.

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