Trust

I’ve been thinking a lot about Trust lately.

It’s been quiet around here, because truth be told, I’ve been going through another bout of hard. Hard physical stuff leading to even harder emotional stuff leading to a lot of not-working.

The hardest part, of course, is when Urgency shows up and makes damn sure I’m aware of all the work I haven’t been doing.

Cue freak-out and exponentially increased stuckness.

But there’s one thing that would stop the freak-outs and frustration in their tracks:

Trust.

Trust that things will work out.
Trust that this too shall pass.
Trust that we have what we need even when it feels like we don’t.
Trust that the Universe is not just a passive observer, but actually wants us to succeed.

A common scene over the last few weeks was me, sitting down to write, staring at the empty page. And then a slowly building sense of despair at the lack of words. And, after that, anger at my inability to push through and make something happen already.

How would that scene be different if I could really trust? If I really, truly believed that things would work out?

Maybe I’d still sit down to write, but when the words pulled a no-show, I’d probably just shrug and say, “Well, I guess it’s not time to start writing, yet.”

Instead of trying to force it and increasing my frustration levels, I’d do nourishing things. Maybe even fun things. Because I would know that I’d get the necessary work done before any imagined doomsday.

In an interesting synchronicity, the lovely @zenatplay wrote the Twitter version of this the other night:

Creative incubation vs painful procrastination. Turns out the difference is trust.

I’ve had enough painful procrastination. I want more creative incubation.

Trusting is not the same as hiding

Let me state up front that I’m not talking about just waiting around for things to be perfect before attempting to do any work. That’s actually not trusting, either. That’s more like avoiding responsibility.

No. I’m talking about working in the ways I can (both inner- and outer-work), when I can. And when I can’t work, giving myself what I need as best I can.

Trust that the universe is on our side sounds like one of those things you either have or you don’t. Kind of like a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So how do you get it when you don’t have it?

These thoughts are still warm and fresh – possibly even underbaked – but here they are just the same.

It starts with a choice*

I’d never tell you what to believe.

However, I am choosing to build trust. Choosing to believe that the Universe is helpful and kind.

Because when I don’t trust, my life becomes far too painful.

Not trusting means every failed launch or bout of stuckness becomes yet another example of how hard life is.

Not trusting means I focus on the hard stuff without appreciating the good.

Not trusting isn’t working for me anymore.

* Starting with a choice is true for other things, too.

Taking the long view

Where can I find evidence that the Universe is on my side?

When I look back at the really unpleasant situations in my life, after enough time passes, there’s always been some kind of positive outcome.

But I want you to hear me when I say that I am not telling you to “look at the bright side” or “find the silver lining.”

When the crappy stuff happens, there’s no getting around the fact that it sucks. And sometimes it hurts like a motherfucker. (By the way, that’s not the time to go searching for evidence.)

But by allowing yourself to acknowledge and experience the pain, eventually it shifts. Eventually you can begin to see the tiny glimmers of good.

The messy break-ups helped clarify what was important to me in a relationship.

Becoming chronically ill while living in the Caribbean forced me to become a lot more aware of my body and how I was treating it.

Getting laid off from that one job right before getting married forced me to get off my ass and find a much better job.

The betrayal I experienced at the church my husband and I attended for years led me to re-evaluate my beliefs, and helped me to stop giving away my power.

The five excruciating years I spent trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and the 3 years of learning to be okay with doing it? They led me to lots of Thing-Finding wisdom.

And now, even though I don’t know where it will lead me, I’m starting to see the glimmers of good that are coming from all the heartache I’ve felt in 2010. So far, it’s led me to explore the idea of Trust, and to write this blog post.

I don’t care whether it’s true or not

I spent the last thirty-mumble years believing, at best, that the universe doesn’t care. And at worst, I believed that I could only ever have the things God wanted me to have, and God almost never lets people have what they want.

So I’m very familiar with how those beliefs affect my life.

What do I lose if I choose to trust that the Universe is my ally, but it actually isn’t?

Nothing.

Whether this theory is true or not, I will still be loads happier if I trust that it’s true and live my life as though it is.

This doesn’t erase the pain of hard stuff, nor does it make me immune to it.

Chances are, some situation will send me into a tailspin, and in those moments I won’t be able to trust. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to trust.

Like so many other things, it’s a practice. A practice of consciously noticing the ways that the hard stuff led to good stuff. And finding ways to remind myself that even when I don’t know how, things will turn out okay.

Similar to how other types of patterns shift, eventually I’ll start remembering to trust sooner.

Today’s Comment Zen

I’m feeling a little nervous about pressing Publish on this one.

Here’s what I’m really trying to say with this post:

It’s been a hard year for me. And I realize that Trust would lessen the sense of hard. Or at least it would help me maintain a few molecules of hope, and allow me to stop trying to force myself to work when I can’t.

I’m sharing this here because maybe a little more Trust would be helpful for you, too. And maybe you’ll even want to join me in gathering evidence that we have reason to trust. If not, that’s totally okay.

What I’d like: I want to hear about your experiences with Trust. What has helped you to trust? What would you do differently if you trusted that everything would work out in the long run?

What I’d rather not have: Evidence that the world is falling apart and the Universe doesn’t care. Reasons not to build trust. Advices on what I should do instead.

(Ironic update: I finished this post a couple days ago and last night decided that I’d publish it today. This morning? The laptop my husband uses won’t boot. So, yeah, I guess this is an opportunity to practice trusting. You know, after I’m done with fist-shaking.)

19 thoughts on “Trust

  1. Kylie

    This whole idea of trusting is foreign to me. I was raise in a household where I learned to always expect that things would go wrong (totally not my parents’ fault, by the way; they had hard upbringings). So just now, as I start learning to coach people, am I discovering what trust is and realizing my lack of experience with it. I imagine as I cultivate trust further, I’ll find myself obsessing less, worrying less, and being present more. Doing what I want to do without fear. Or having the fear but knowing what I want to do anyway.

    This is a wonderful post. I hope you get a reprieve soon from the hard. Sending virtual hugs, tea and blankets.
    .-= Kylie´s last blog ..breaking news- change is scary =-.

  2. Elizabeth

    I have huge problems with trust. Somewhere deep inside, I have an ingrained belief that if I trust, things won’t work out in a way that makes me happy. Which seems oddly at odds with the fact that I am also an uncurable optimist who thinks that things probably will work out for the best. Maybe it’s that I have no trouble trusting for things in general because there are so many ways that good could happen, but when it comes to the things that really matter, I’m attached to a single outcome and am convinced that if I trust, that outcome might not happen. Ohhhhh. That might be it.

    I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you a reprieve from the hard. But I am practicing this trust-thing myself, so know that there is someone out there practicing with you.
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..why reiki is like the cheshire cat =-.

  3. Patty K

    “What do I lose if I choose to trust that the Universe is my ally, but it actually isn’t?”

    This is a great question.

    A few years ago, I adopted the perspective that everything happens for a reason and that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should and that I am in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. And I learned (and am in the process of learning) to trust and to have faith.

    And you know, it just doesn’t matter whether or not it’s actually true. I don’t care. It feels better, it makes things easier for me (even when things get ugly)…and I cope better. And interestingly enough…the longer I hold this perspective – the truer it feels. The evidence appears. To the point where I feel pretty solid about it right now.

    Sorry to hear about the stuck and the yuck. And it’s great to have a new post from you….missed you!
    .-= Patty K´s last blog ..Things I learned from my first product launch =-.

  4. Victoria Post author

    Thank you for such wonderful comments and the hugs and comfort. You people are so lovely.

    @Kylie – “…having the fear but knowing what I want to do anyway.” Yes! Since I don’t think we can expect the fear to go away forever (harumph!) I totally relate, having grown up in a household where there was much talk of Murphy’s Law.

    @Elizabeth – Getting attached the outcome is So. Hard. Or maybe I should say *not* getting attached to it is hard. Because we don’t have any control over that. It’s something else I’ve been thinking about a lot. And I’m glad to know you’re practicing with me! It’s more fun with friends. :)

    @Patty – “…the longer I hold this perspective – the truer it feels. The evidence appears.” That’s awesome, Patty! I think there was a time in my past when I adopted this mindset, and then I kind of forgot for a few years. Which just goes to show that reminders are really important. I’m happy to be getting back on the horse, though.

  5. chicsinger simone

    It’s funny you published this now, I’ve been sort of mulling over the thought of “what if I assume this ____ will work out?” rather than my default pessimistic setting. Guess what? Nine times out of ten it does, and it’s rather amazing. As hard as it is to remember it, I’ve found that it eases the way in whatever I am doing.

    I am with you: not trusting isn’t working for me anymore either. THANK YOU for this eloquent reminder!

    Hope your hard dissolves soon; it’s the grit that creates the pearl!

  6. Kelly

    I planted trust at the beginning of the year in my imaginary garden. Of all of the qualities, trust was the first thing that came to mind. With trust, I know nothing can stop me (I’m usually the culprit). I keep needing to come back and water trust and clear out the plants around it. The tomatoes like to get all in trust’s face, and trust just needs lots of space. Spaciousness is very good for my trust. This is what I have learned about trust this year.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..The Case for Everlasting Gobstoppers =-.

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  8. Mike Reeves-McMillan

    My wife and I, when we were first married, kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’d both had experiences that had taught us that things went badly. We were emotionally convinced, every time we were apart, that the other one would die, because life wasn’t supposed to be happy like this.

    I’m glad to say we got over that and started trusting again. We still don’t know the future, but thinking of it in positive terms certainly improves the present.
    .-= Mike Reeves-McMillan´s last blog ..How to Come Out of Your Trance =-.

  9. Allison Day

    I’m too trusting. Way too trusting. At least, when it comes to other people (or so I’m told). And yeah, I’ve gotten burned, but that’s not the point… the thing is, I find it so easy to put trust in other people that maybe don’t always deserve it… but I don’t trust myself.

    And although I’ll probably never stop trusting other people so easily… maybe I need to put more trust in myself.

    Which is, ohmygosh, so hard. But I’ve started to, bit by reluctant bit… and now I’m going for a dream that I’ve had all my life and finding that wow… this actually works. I’m achieving things that never in my life did I think I’d be able to do, just because I’m putting that little bit of trust in myself and believing that I really *can* do it. Which I never had before. And it really does make all the difference.

  10. Sara

    This post really touched me and I have been thinking about a response ever since – I’ve decided to stop thinking and just type, and see what comes out.

    My most challenging experiences with trust have been to do with trusting myself.

    A couple of years ago I experienced a series of difficult emotional events. My reaction was – to me – surprising, and not what I would have expected of myself prior to these events. I felt ambushed by my emotions and the behaviour that resulted, and before long I no longer recognised the person I thought I was.

    I was shaken by how quickly my ’strong’ personality had unravelled and began to systematically question all that I had done and thought before. I felt unable to make further decisions or rely on the foundations of my old beliefs, and pretty soon my world became very small. I tried to control what little was left, but of course I couldn’t and the struggle left me exhausted and depressed. I blamed myself and made myself unreachable to those who loved me – things got very dark indeed.

    But then…. something made me decide to try again. I got help and things slowly improved. I learned how my mind had tried to protect me from what was going on, but in doing so had created thought patterns that were stopping me from moving forward. Understanding this was essential to my getting better, but the realisation that my own mind could lead me to ‘sabotage’ my life in this way was frightening.

    During the process of getting better I had to accept that sometimes things just happen, and I might falter again. But now I just try to trust myself and my abilities, and believe that my world won’t stop turning if I get it a bit ‘wrong’. I think trying to trust is essential part of trying to be alive rather than to merely exist. Hope that makes sense!

  11. regina perata

    Love this. Thank you. Up against my own “stuff” your post is timely. I especially like the reminder that it doesn’t really matter whether my belief system is true or not. Sending and feeling the love. xo

  12. Larisa

    This post really speaks to me. The whole trust thing and the universe-is-my-ally thing is very difficult for me as well. I tend to gather clues (am I safe? am I not?), analyze situations relentlessly and practice constant hyper-vigilance (constant vigilance!) – definitely more in some areas of my life than others but still… it’s exhausting.

    I find this post so interesting because so much of what you wrote is nearly word-for-word thoughts I’ve been having myself. What if the universe *is* my ally? What do I lose if I believe this and it isn’t true?

    Reading your words was hard at times because I encounter so much resistance to the idea that I don’t need to be constantly vigilant; that perhaps relaxing into Trust is a possibility. And yet, you speak so directly to my own thoughts and questions. Thank you so much for sharing.
    .-= Larisa´s last blog ..The Hardest Thing in the World =-.

  13. Alina

    I just tagged this post under “inspiration” in my Google Reader. I am actually working on the same thing, and it is getting easier, somewhat. The thing is, I see evidence of it in my life too. And it’s easier to see when you are not in an emotional tailspin. I think the key thing, for me, is that I’ve realized I have spent most of my life refusing to listen to myself and instead relying on lists of pros and cons and looking at what other people are doing for guidance.

    But I am beginning to trust that if something feels intuitively correct, even if it’s scary, then it will lead to the best outcome (without trying to attach myself to exactly what the outcome will look like). It’s hard. It’s getting easier. And trust makes everything better. I actually have essays of things to say about this topic, but my comment is already turning into an essay, so I’ll end this here. Bottom line – this post is genius, and it’s one I’ll definitely be rereading.

  14. Victoria Post author

    People! You guys are leaving such meaty comments – I love it!

    @Simone – The remembering really is the hard part, isn’t it? With “believing it while the shit is hitting the fan” being a close second!

    @Kelly – “Spaciousness is very good for my trust.” Ooh…I’m going to spend some time with that gem, because I definitely think it’s true. Crowding and overwhelm make it harder to trust. Maybe because the lack of spaciousness forces us out of our own bodies.

    @Mike – I’ve definitely been in Other-Shoe-Drop-Ville. It’s so scary. Was there anything in particular that helped you to shift out of that place (that you’re willing to share with us)?

    @Allison – Yes – self-trust is soooo challenging. I think taking steps to trust ourselves a little bit at a time is the way to go. You try something, it works out, and it serves as evidence that we can trust ourselves for the next thing we try. I’m cheering for you all the way!! :)

    @Sara – I can totally relate to the thought patterns that are meant to protect us, but they go a bit overboard and get in the way. It can be such a challenge to acknowledge and allow them to be there (since resisting them rarely helps), while still finding ways to do what’s best for us. Sometimes it’s a bit of a waiting game, and then that “urge to try again” finally shows up.

    @regina – Sending many “stuff-desolving” vibes your way!

    @Larisa – It’s hard to find the perfect balance of vigilance vs. trust, isn’t it? I’ve been playing with the idea of giving my hyper-vigilant selves something else to play with or work on – so that they feel needed and useful, but they’re also occupied so I can lean into Trust a bit more. Maybe they need a blanket, or a specific project. :)

    @Alina – Thank you! And you are so right – trying to find evidence that we can trust won’t work very well (if at all) if we’re in the thick of a painful situation. It’s like a muscle we need to build when things are going reasonably well already, so that we can rely on it during the next difficult situation. Definitely a process, rather than an event! I am right there with you with learning to go within and trusting what my soul (or whatever you want to call it) is telling me. I grew up looking at lists and asking others for advice, as well. Not an easy habit to undo. I wish us both ease and luck with it!

  15. Cindy Morefield

    So very sorry for all the hard and it’s yucky painfulness. Sending virtual hugs and lots of whatever else makes you feel encouraged and comforted.

    Also very glad you wrote this post and published it. At the very least, some timely and helpful (judging from the comments) posts have come out of the hard, and your courage to be open about it.

    One thing that’s helped me build trust that the Universe is helpful and good is “what if.” Those days (or weeks or months) when statements like “everything is happening exactly as it needs to” cause way too much cognitive dissonance, I just add “what if”: what if everything is happening exactly as it needs to? what if I am supported and loved? what if there’s a way to do this that doesn’t make me want to barf? Just asking the question seems to open up possiblities, make space for more options. And usually, after a while, I end up seeing that, hey, it’s actually true, or least I can see more evidence that it’s just as likely to be true as less hopeful statements.

    Thanks for sharing @zenatplay’s formulation: “Creative incubation vs painful procrastination. Turns out the difference is trust.” The last few months I’ve been experimenting with a “what if” along those lines: what if what I’ve been calling procrastination is really an intuitive attunement to timing? So far the evidence suggests that about 95% of what I’ve categorized as procrastination actually isn’t. Not only that, it can be a pretty amazing (if somewhat freaky) navigation system! So all the time I’ve spent beating myself up for it? Not just ineffective, but totally unnecessary. Before reading this post I hadn’t been able to put a finger on what made the difference, but now I think trust is the key.

    Once again I salute you for sharing the hard and hitting publish. Every time you’ve done that over the past few months, it’s been a blessing.
    .-= Cindy Morefield´s last blog ..Savannah- 2 for 2 =-.

  16. Laura Hegfield

    Hi Victoria,
    I’m new to your blog….found you through Karen at Square Peg People. First I want to say…good for YOU…for trusting your intuition enough (forget about the Universe for a second) to push publish! You asked about trust in our lives. So here goes: if I didn’t trust the Universe/God/the gentle goodness of life flowing…whatever we want to name the Mystery…I think I would be falling continuously into a dreadful bottomless abyss of mind-darkness! Living with chronic illness myself, trust is what keeps me afloat. Trusting that tomorrow could be different or it could be just the same but either way, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be on my journey at this moment is what keeps me from falling into deep despair. Even if my physical health doesn’t get any better or gets worse (which someday it will-we are all dying after all)…my thoughts and emotions are always changing…I trust this truth…I watch it constantly…I know if I’m having a rough patch in my mind that it is only a temporary condition, just like the state of my ailing body…everything is changing. This is so comforting! Trust, gratitude, patience, tenderness/compassion…these are not just words, but soul qualities that support me daily.

    I’m looking forward to browsing through your site more thoroughly.
    gentle steps
    .-= Laura Hegfield´s last blog ..Tenderness =-.

  17. Sandra

    Hiya. I keep coming back to this post, too, not sure what I want to say about it except Yeah. It’s so hard, isn’t it? I guess that’s why it’s called “trust” and not “certainty.” Trusting that energy levels will come back up, that optimism will come back – they always do, but it can still be hard for me to remember that. I’ve also been inching closer lately to trusting that even when it seems unlikely.

    Also, Cindy, “an intuitive attunement to timing” is such an amazing way to reframe the vice formerly known as procrastination. I like to think along those lines, too, though I often have trouble trusting myself that this is true and not an excuse. Even though experience usually bears it out.

    Thanks for writing this!
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..Were closed- a word of encouragement for language learners everywhere =-.

    1. Cindy Morefield

      Glad that reframing resonated with you, Sandra. I like “the vice formerly known as procrastination”! The “it’s just an excuse you are totally deluding yourself” voices still make a ruckus from time to time, but it’s getting incrementally easier to ignore their advice, incrementally easier (or at least quicker) to get to trust.
      .-= Cindy Morefield´s last blog ..Savannah- 2 for 2 =-.

  18. Andrew Lightheart

    I’m just discovering this for myself too, in a way.

    When I was younger, I manically defended that you get what your thoughts attract, and you must think happy thoughts and all that. Militant.

    My current self looks back and suspects that that came from a deep fear of anger and fear and, you know, feeling stuff.

    However, along the way I seem to have lost my sense that, as one of my affirmations used to say, the Universe is unfolding as it should.

    Just JUST discovering this again in the past 24 hours particularly strongly. In fact, I’m just about to hit Publish on a post of my own about this.

    And sheesh the Urgency monster has a LOT to answer for, especially for a recovering chronic procrastinator. I get confused, as Jen Louden would say, between contentment with complacency.

    Great to see your words, sorry-sorry about the hard, glad to be reminded about trust.

    Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with you. x
    .-= Andrew Lightheart´s last blog ..Your Inner Fundamentalist =-.

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