Hi! I'm Carrien.

How to Trust Yourself

Published 8 months ago • 5 min read


Parenting Coach & Writer

“This is as far as I can go.”

You’ve probably felt it, that moment when you bend over to pick something up, or reach to touch your toes and your muscles just… stop. You can’t go any farther. You may feel pain and tightness. You definitely feel that you have extended yourself as far as you can.

What you may not know is that a lot of that tightness is neurological. Your nervous system is constantly sending messages to your muscles, and that dictates how far you can stretch. Your brain decides how much movement is allowed.

Neurological tightness is when the brain won’t allow lengthening because the region lacks strength. The brain takes away your ‘range of motion privileges’ as a protective mechanism to preserve safety and structure of the joint.” -Suan Sati - 200 Hour YTTC

Your brain decides how far to let you extend yourself based on how strong you are!

Think about that for a second. Think about the implications.


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Your brain protects you from injury by keeping you from moving yourself past the point that it believes you are strong enough to safely return from! It’s an amazing mechanism.

The Protective Instinct

Just as your brain protects your body in this way, you have other parts of your thinking that are trying to protect you in different ways. There are things that your thoughts may prevent you from reaching for in your life because part of you doesn’t believe that you are strong enough to be able to go that far, and come back, without injury.

That little voice that sits in your head and tell you all the reasons you shouldn’t try that new thing and all the reasons you will never change, it’s trying to protect you from getting hurt. That critical inner monologue when you think about trying something different might just be trying to protect you from disappointment, ridicule, and failure.

Flexibility is Strength

So, how do we become more flexible then? How do we trigger new adaptations and responses in our bodies and minds?

We build strength. We train ourselves to become strong enough that the brain will allow us to reach farther, because it knows we are strong enough to come back from it.

You don’t need a pep talk. You need experience. You need practice. You need to have a storehouse of competencies that you can draw on. You need to work on it every day, and break it into small steps. Reach a bit farther each day, and this teaches your body and mind that you are capable of reaching that far.

If you want your hamstrings to stretch longer, you make them stronger first. This means to take them through their range of motion, but with resistance. Do it for a few minutes every day. Every time you do that you tell your brain that you need to be a little bit longer and a little bit stronger in this place. You reach for your limit, and stay there on the edge for a few minutes, and then come back.

Every day your brain and muscles will take in that information. Your muscles will build themselves a little bit longer, a little stronger. Your brain will absorb the information that your muscles are longer and stronger than they were before, and allow them to reach just a little bit farther.

If you want to do something different and try something new, if you want to stop feeling like an imposter in a new role or setting;

Do the work. Build the muscles. Gain the experience. Put in the time.

This is how you trust yourself to stretch farther, to try more, to do different things.

But nothing happens unless you actually put yourself in motion.

You may not be able to bend over and touch your toes today. But if you never try to touch your toes, that will always be the case. If you started trying today to touch your toes, and keep trying every day for a year. You would probably be a lot closer to your goal than you are today.

You have to try. You have to put yourself in motion. Ignore that voice in your head that says, “We aren’t ever going to be able to do that.”

Your goal today, is just to try to do that one thing, just a little bit. Every attempt will teach you something, will help you gain strength, and skill. Then that little voice inside will shut up and trust that you are strong enough to at least try do this new thing. One day, if you keep going, you might discover that you can do that after all.

What you actually need.

Here’s what you actually need in order to have the confidence to try something new, and get up and try again when you fail. You need to already have experienced yourself as competent in another area. You need to have experienced failure and setbacks and know that they aren’t the whole picture. They are part of the journey toward getting better at something, towards strength.

This is why we put our children in organized sports and music lessons, and school plays. It’s so they can have a place to try new things, fail, and try again, where there are stakes, but the stakes are not life and death. They can experiment and push themselves in an atmosphere of serious play, instead of survival. (I won't dive deep today into the brain science reasons behind why this is important. The summary is, you don't learn when you're scared.)

This is why we give our children age appropriate responsibilities around the house. Not only so that our shared living environment is cared for by all the people who live in it, but so that they can learn that they can contribute, they can master skills, and the satisfaction of experiencing themselves to be useful.

We need micro experiences of skill acquisition and competence, because those translate into the confidence to take on bigger things, and to be able to trust ourselves to do well when we venture into more high stakes settings.

Parenting/Life Tip

Something as simple as sticking to a morning routine every day can help boost confidence levels. Get dressed, make your bed, make your breakfast, wash your bowl and put it in the drying rack, etc. The more practice you get at successfully accomplishing small tasks, the more competent you know yourself to be, and the more confident you become.

Don't do things for your children that they are capable of doing for themselves. Allow them to become competent.

Love, Carrien

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Hi! I'm Carrien.

I help parents raise resilient children, without feeling overwhelmed, so that they can be brave to try hard things.

I'm a writer, parent mentor, and resilience coach. My passion for helping parents to protect their children and raise them to be resilient has extended to creating resources that have helped thousands of refugee and migrant families on the Thailand/Myanmar border through my work with The Charis Project. - I am also the mother of 6 amazing and rather resilient humans, who have managed to thrive in spite of their unconventional upbringing and being dragged around the world by their parents. - Join me here for words to heal and fill your parent heart and shape the words you give to your children.

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