Can self-trust be acquired?

Bunshiro OCHIAI
8 min readJun 16, 2021


In my last article, I talked about how a leader’s self-trust creates psychological safety for the team. We are now at the end of the chapter on the theme of self-trust. In this article, as the last topic of this chapter, I will discuss whether self-trust is only for the gifted or whether it can be acquired by anyone.

Is self-trust only for the fortunate?

In my previous article, I talked about how my interactions with my friend K and employee N made me realize that I have low self-trust, while my self-credit is high.

At that time, I could understand that I had weak self-trust, but I did not clearly understand whether it was something that could be acquired.

In the midst of all of this, there was an incident that clearly raised the question in my mind, “Can self-belief be acquired?

Every year, I conduct a session to convey our management philosophy to new employees during their on-boarding training. During the session, we often have a frank dialogue rather than just telling them about our philosophy, and one time we talked about self-trust and self-credit.

The discussion started with the idea that self-trust and self-credit are different, and that while self-credit can be acquired through the accumulation of various efforts, self-trust is inborn, or may be greatly influenced by childhood experiences.

At that time, Ms. A, a new member of our company, said, “If self-trust is not something that can be acquired, it seems very lonely.” That comment tugged at my heartstrings. It seemed like a ray of hope for me, who was aware of my weakness in self-trust but could not do anything about it.

Ms. A’s comment led me to clarify my own question, “Is self-trust acquired?” and I began to strongly desire to explore this question and hopefully come to the conclusion that it can be acquired.

If consciousness is the starting point, past experiences are irrelevant

Our past environment has a great impact on our self-trust. In my opinion, childhood experiences in particular have a great impact on self-trust. One of the most important influences is the nature of our parents and the type of relationship we have with them.

However, I believe that it is possible to start “trusting ourselves” in the present moment, regardless of our past circumstances.

Self-trust was fostered through the repetition of perceiving oneself as true self through the three consciousnesses of intuition, thought, and body from the meta-consciousness (i.e., self-congruence). If you want to look back in detail, please refer to the following article.

The important thing to remember is that the starting point is our own consciousness. If the starting point is our own consciousness, then the surrounding environment is irrelevant.

Listen closely to the subjective truth of our intuitive consciousness, recognize the fixed concepts and thought patterns of our thinking consciousness, and be honest about what we feel in our bodily consciousness. It will take a certain length of time, but by spending our days implementing this way of thought, we can get closer to ourselves as we are, regardless of our past experiences.

What we acquire through past experience is not “trust” but “credit”

Nevertheless, one might argue that past experiences are important for building confidence.

If we get good grades in our studies, we can have confidence in our studies. If we get a good result in a certain sport, we can have confidence in that sport. If we receive praise from the people around us, we can have confidence in the things they praise us for. If a person has an experience of accomplishing something by working hard and not giving up, he or she will have confidence that he or she can do it.

There is no doubt that all of these experiences are valuable, but they are examples of increasing conditional “self-credit” rather than unconditional “self-trust.”

Self-trust, on the other hand, means recognizing that we are a valuable human being, regardless of what we have done or said or the results we have achieved.

To begin with, I defined “trust” as unconditional belief in oneself, regardless of objective evidence or experience. In other words, by definition, trust has nothing to do with past experiences. Even if we have never experienced self-trust before, it is possible to gain a sense of self-trust by starting from our own consciousness.

Just “be aware” of our own lights and shadows

Let me explain in a little more detail the process of finding a sense of self-trust from a place where there is no sense of it.

The starting point of self-trust was to recognize oneself as true self using all the consciousnesses of the 3+1 Consciousness Model (i.e. self-congruence).

When we do this, we have to face our negative selves, which we usually suppress, as they are. It’s like acknowledging both the light and the shadow. For example, If you have a poor sense of self-trust, what you can do right now is to simply acknowledge that you can only trust yourself conditionally.

As we do this repeatedly, we come to recognize that the positive side is ourselves, the negative side is ourselves, and the whole of us is ourselves. As a physical sensation, it is like, “I am always here, just as I am.”

Again, this can be done by anyone, regardless of their surroundings or past experiences. Yes, we can cultivate self-trust by starting with ourselves in the present moment. Past experiences are irrelevant. This is a very powerful fact.

Improving the “constitution” to facilitate self-consistency

Lastly, I would like to share with you a concrete image of the “constitutional improvement menu” to help you become more self-congruent, which is the source of self-trust.

This is not to say that you have to do all of these things. This is just examples, and I would be grateful if you could try out some of them, or if you could try out some of your own methods based on this overall image.

Let me once again confirm the definition of self-congruence.

Definition of self-congruence (Ochiai’s idea):
To capture intuition, thinking, and bodily awareness as they are from meta-consciousness.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly is meant by “understanding each consciousness as it is”, so in order to give you a concrete idea, I will show you the “constitutional improvement menu” below.

“Constitutional improvement menus” to become more self-congruent (example)

[1] Get a sense of meta-consciousness.
・Become aware of your meta-consciousness. Be aware of observing the world, including yourself, from outside of yourself.
・Become aware of the consciousness of the film director as well as the main actor in the film.
・Write down this feeling in a diary or notebook, or talk about it with others.

[2] Grasping the sensations of bodily consciousness.
・Consciously feel your senses, pleasure and discomfort, and emotions.
・Satisfy your basic needs (sleep, appetite, etc.)
・Maintain your body.
・Make your food, clothing, and shelter comfortable.
・Spend money and time for the comfort of your physical senses (do not spend it on things that are not directly related to your physical senses, such as vanity, honor, or evaluation of others).
・Enjoy physical activities such as sports, fishing, and yoga.

[3) Get a sense of your intuitive consciousness.
・Consciously feel the outpouring of your own energy.
・Value what feels right (intuition).
・Place importance on feeling connections and ties with other people.
・Experience something that inspires you, such as art or sports.
・Review what you have been doing for a long time and what you are interested in.
・Reflect on the flow of your life on a long time axis (connect the dots)

[4] Capture the premise of your thoughts and values.
・Consciously feel your own likes and dislikes.
・Spend time with people you like, people you are attracted to, and people who are important to you.
・Be aware of horizontal relationships, not vertical relationships.
・Be aware of the real intentions (Honne) and the fake intentions (Tatemae) in communication and increase the real intentions.
・Establish the premise that real intentions (Honne) are to express your thoughts and feelings, not to deny or blame the other person.

[5] Common to all
・Be aware of blanks/playing/returning to zero.
-Tidy up / declutter.
-Complete what is on your mind. Make space for awareness.
-Make space for time and space (as for space, you can go far away from home)
・Take care to “feel the negative”. Suspend judgment.
-Valuing feelings of discomfort, bewilderment, and buzz.
-Don’t pretend that discomfort, dislike, contradictions or conflicts don’t exist.
・Become aware of your judgments of guilt, transactions, should, right and wrong, gain and loss, winning and losing, and feel what happens when you suspend those judgments.
・Confront relationships with parents, teachers, bosses, and other people who tend to be mentally hierarchical and dependent.
・Spend time with people who have a high sense of mental maturity and purity.

What are your thoughts on this? Again, don’t think that you need to do all of these things to achieve self-congruence, but rather that you can achieve self-congruence by simply picking up a few of these things that ring a bell and practicing them.

In the past few articles, I have talked about self-trust, and the main message I wanted to convey is that self-trust can be acquired. Anyone can start to change right now, at this very moment. I am on that journey myself. I would be very happy if I could push those who need a sense of “ self-trust”, even if only a little.

Here are the quests of the day. (If you’d like, please share your thoughts in the comments.)

・If it is true that self-trust can be acquired, what implications do you feel this message has for you or those you care about?

・Which of the above “Constitutional improvement menus” to become more self-congruent would you like to adopt for yourself? Or, what new and unique menus have you come up with?

Bunshiro Ochiai



Bunshiro OCHIAI

Founder and CEO of a training company, Alue | MS in Particle Physics. | BCG | Questing “What is the paradigm for integrating contradictions in management?”