5 Signs You Don't Trust Yourself. 3 Ways To Change That.
As someone who pretty much makes a living out of sharing all of the things that I've learned about relationships, if there's a consistent thread that ran through pretty much all of my dysfunctional ones, it's the fact that, at the foundation of each and every one of them, I didn't trust myself very much—even before they started. The reason why I didn't trust myself is because I didn't take out the time to really get to know me and my wants and needs before attempting to get to know other people.
Most of us would agree that trust is a core principle for all healthy connections, whether they are personal or professional. When you trust someone, it means that you are confident in their character and integrity. It means that you know they are reliable. When you trust another person, it means that, if anyone is gonna say what they mean and mean what they say, they are the one individual that you don't have to worry about; if anyone can be depended upon to have your back, they are it.
Unfortunately, a lot of us put this kind of confidence in the wrong people because confidence does not lie within us first. We don't trust our own judgment. Our gut instincts. Shoot, we barely even trust what our mind, body and spirit tell us that we need (especially over what our appetite tells us that we want). Unfortunately, the fallout of all of this is that, when you don't trust yourself, you can end up trusting the epitome of the wrong kinds of people. You can also end up making some pretty bad decisions too. And the fallout of all of this is you end up distrusting yourself…even more.
I know this isn't a topic that's discussed nearly as much as it should be. So, in the effort to make sure that you trust you before anyone or anything else, I've provided a few signs that you probably have trouble trusting yourself, followed by three ways to break free from that totally counterproductive mold.
You Can’t Make Decisions Without an Entire Tribe in Tow
Accountability is a good thing. More of us could stand to apply it our lives far more often, to tell you the truth. But it's one thing to be open to having people reel you back in or call you out on your ish; it's another matter entirely if you're mentally and emotionally paralyzed without 5-7 of your friends helping you to make a decision.
A lot of times, if a person requires an audience in order to make choices in life, it's because they want others to like what they are (or aren't) doing. They are so consumed by that, their own happiness doesn't even really factor in all that much.
So yeah, if you need a bunch of people to "get", understand or co-sign on what you are—or aren't—about to do in your life, that is a very telling indication that you don't trust yourself very much; that you think the opinion of others is more important, impactful and relevant than your own. (Pretty scary, huh?)
You Flip-Flop. A LOT.
I've got a friend who I pretty much always wait until her third declaration before I take her seriously. Why? Because she's one of the biggest flip-floppers that I know. Literally, over the course of one day, she can make three different declarations and profess wholeheartedly that she means each one.
What causes someone to be like that? Typically, they are very feelings-oriented and outside-influence swayed. What I mean by that is when they are up, they are going to make a choice based on that feeling but if they feel down 10 minutes later, they are going to make another decision about the very same matter. As far as outside influences go, if they decide to do something and then they read an article about how their favorite celebrity decided to do the opposite based on a similar scenario, suddenly, they think the famous individual—someone they don't even know—probably has more wisdom and insight than they do. (Yeah, that's pretty much a crap shoot most times, if you ask me.)
The problem with being a constant flip-flopper is two-fold. First, it channels mass confusion throughout your psyche. Second, it keeps you from making real progress. After all, the definition of decision is "determination, as of a question or doubt, by making a judgment". Did you peep that? A person who makes a decision does it by being determined to do so. They aren't easily swayed once they make a judgment call. That's because they believe that what they are doing is right for them—no matter what is going on around them (or how often their feelings change because of it).
You Rarely Try New Things
When's the last time you went to a new place, tried a new food or attempted something that was totally out of your comfort zone? If you're staring blankly at the screen because that's how long it's been for you, you've just ran into another sign that you don't trust yourself, nearly as much as you should.
Although some people probably think that sticking with the same ole' predictable patterns and routines is about "knowing oneself enough to not venture out", it's actually the opposite. A part of what it means to trust yourself is that you have a level of confidence that assures you that stepping out and doing new things is a good idea. That, no matter what happens, at the end of the day, you'll be just fine. If you don't know anything else about yourself, you are able to 100 percent trust that.
You’re a Closet Envier
Envy is evil. Straight up. It's all about being so focused on what someone else has going on that you're not able to pay attention to the good things that are happening in your own life. In fact, envy is so ridiculous that it's mentioned in the 10th Commandment (Exodus 20:17)—"Thou shall not covet." (Coveting is envying, by the way).
So, how do you know for sure that envy is something that you struggle with? You're constantly comparing yourself with others. You have a hard time being genuinely happy for people and their triumphs. You are always trying to set your life to the pace of someone else's. You think that success means outdoing someone instead of living your own best life. You are a copier. You dislike others for no real good or valid reason. In short, you're a hater.
Ugh. Just reading all of that can show just how draining envy is. It's also an enemy of your spiritual development because it can have you out here feeling like God loves someone else more than you; that He's looking out for someone else more.
Someone who trusts themselves doesn't have time for envy because they are confident in their own gifts and abilities. The end result is they are too busy creating their own glow-up to be concerned or worried about someone else's.
Your Voice Isn’t Loud Enough
Back in the day, there was an episode of A Different World where Tisha Campbell played a student by the name of Josie who had HIV and Whoopi Goldberg played her professor. An assignment was given to the class to write their own eulogy (you can watch a clip of it here). As Josie was fidgeting to get through her presentation, which included sharing that she had HIV, Whoopi's character told her, "You are a voice in this world." She sure was because, all these years later, I still remember that scene. That's how powerful a story can be.
Above my bed, there is a quote that says, "Your story matters. Tell it." Your perspective, your experiences, your personality—there's something about all of these things that are yours and yours alone. They are what make you a rare commodity on this planet. But who's gonna know just how significant and relevant to the culture you are if you're not speaking up?
A lot of people have a hard time trusting themselves because, quite frankly, they aren't sharing enough of who they are and what they have to offer with others. You can't trust yourself if you don't believe what Josie's teacher told her—"You are a voice in this world". What are you waiting for? Speak up. (A good read on this topic is "The Power of Your Voice: 3 Steps to Finding and Embracing It".)
How to Trust Yourself—First, Take Great Risks
It's kind of weird that a lot of us are able to trust other people when we don't even trust ourselves. But when you think about those who you do put your confidence in, how did it get to the point where you felt sure that you could? You took a chance on them, right? You told them a secret and they kept it to themselves. You asked a favor and they came through. You needed them to be an ear and a source of support and they made themselves available. In short, you took a risk and they didn't disappoint.
The same way that you extended yourself to others to see if they were worthy of your trust, that is the same thing you must do in order to trust yourself more. This means you need to meet new people, attempt something that you've never done before and again, be intentional about going beyond your comfort zone, both personally as well as professionally, from time to time.
If the thought of doing this terrifies you, but you're going to try it anyway, that is already a step towards building trust and self-confidence. The cool thing about taking risks is they can open the door to new opportunities, teach you lessons about yourself and others, and prepare you for taking even greater chances in the future. As a result, fear will fade. And that's always a good thing.
Next, Develop Your Strengths
A huge mistake that a lot of us make, far too often, is we focus on our weaknesses far more than we do our strengths. But if all you do is focus on what you can't do well, you're never going to refine and perfect what you do.
A good example of this is me and my brother. I have a gift for writing; it comes effortlessly to me. Something I have the talent for is singing. My brother is the opposite. He's had great success as an artist, but if I looked at him and said, "I'm going to abandon my natural writing ability to become a better singer", while I might've gotten better, I know for a fact that I wouldn't have seen the kind of success that I have had as a writer.
Strengthening weaknesses is cool. But man, take it from me—if you put more sweat equity into further developing your strengths, you'll be unstoppable in so many ways. The trust that you have in yourself and what you can accomplish will go straight through the roof!
THEN, BE YOURSELF. UNAPOLOGETICALLY SO.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." He is so right. I venture to say that a lot of people are out here, totally distrusting themselves, and it's all because they are paying more attention to what society, their family and their peers are telling them to be rather than 1) pondering who God created them to be and 2) looking within to figure out the kind of person they want to be.
I can personally attest to the fact that when you're intentional about being your true and authentic self, not everyone is going to like it. A part of the reason is because genuineness is foreign to a lot of folks; it's uncomfortably different. In fact, I've got a quote by a writer named Shannon L. Alder that's the signature on one of my email accounts. It says, "Being different is a revolving door in your life where secure people enter and insecure ones exit." Say that, Shannon.
Always remember that trust is about strength, ability, sureness and integrity. If you focus on developing these things in such a way that you can be proud of yourself, what others think (or don't think) won't matter nearly as much. You'll accept that who's meant for you will enter, who isn't will exit—and both are for the best. Because life is too short and you are too special to be out here pretending to be someone else, simply to please others. You'll know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you've got to trust yourself enough to be completely and unapologetically yourself. And graduating to that kind of mentality will bless you tenfold!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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