A little over a month ago Scott Berkun (@berkun) asked a question on Twitter about trust. The resulting conversation went off the rails but it definitely cued a bit of reflection about my own “learning to trust myself” journey.
For me trust is wrapped up in the little choices. Lately, I’ve been noticing hundreds of trust moments in a day. What I choose to eat, doing a task as soon as I think of it, taking this job and not that job, exercising, sleeping - just about every detail of my life provides an opportunity for me to pay attention and ask myself what is mine to do in that moment.
But do I? Do I ask myself?
For the most part, no. Most of our daily lives run on automatic. Habits and unconscious behaviors basically run the show in terms of decision-making. As my life practice encourages me to pay attention, I do notice that my habits run a certain course - to stay away from pain and go toward the pleasurable. It’s when you stop and look more closely at some of those habits, unraveling them a bit by questioning them, that you start to see the elaborate schemes.
At some point each day I ask myself if I should go for a walk? Perhaps this internal dialog sounds familiar: Visuals of everything else you c/should be doing. “I can do it later. I can start tomorrow. I’ll just watch one more show and then I’ll go.” All of those answers are automatic. When I take the time to clear those away and listen deeper - I really do know the answer. That inner knowing is always simple. Yes. No.
The most fascinating part is watching the counter arguments arise. “That should be yes” and “You shouldn’t want that.“ It can be a bit daunting when you begin to realize how much time you spend in resistance to what’s true for you. At some points it feels like I’m resisting everything. It really is like trying to drive through my life with the brake on.
One of my favorite Byron Katie stories is one about not brushing teeth with her grandson. He REALLY didn’t want to brush his teeth. She was good with that. So, they just stood in the doorway. But they weren’t brushing their teeth. They were just walking toward the bathroom. But they were absolutely NOT brushing their teeth. They were standing at the sink. Not brushing their teeth. They put paste on the toothbrush but they were not brushing their teeth. Put it in their mouth. Still not brushing their teeth. Swish it around a little. All the while the little boy grinning like crazy as he enjoyed their game of ”not brushing teeth.“ I use that one all the time with myself.
Katie tells another story that holds the extension of a life lived in this way - without a story. When she returned from an extended time away from her apartment, she entered, noticed that the dishes needed to be done, did it, then noticed another task, did it and another, until everything was done. Then she went to sleep. To me that lack of resistance and simple doing sounds blissful.
I have clear memories of moving freely through the world as a little girl. I was a happy, strong-willed, cute little person. I remember favorite clothes, food, people and places. I was fairly passionate about things (read: stubborn). I felt no need to “trust myself.” I either did something or I didn’t. Consequences ensued.
As I grow older, I notice that I’ve become far more careful moving through the world. I am cranky, creaky and slow at times with the fears and “what ifs” that my untrusting mind provides.
And I also notice that looking at those consequences, behaviors and fears becomes less of a drama filled occurrence for me. I begin to recognize the next moment is an opportunity to redirect and try again. My sense of humor grows stronger and more nimble. I’m able to return to trusting and showing up much more often than I used to and when I’m unable, I’m more likely to have someone around me who catches and holds the space while I rebalance.
That’s the deeper learning for me. Trust is not necessarily about what I do or don’t do “right.” It’s becoming about knowing and living as if somehow it’s all working as it should and that “all is well in all manner of well” regardless of the circumstances.
So, I’ve begun to realize that it’s not just about listening; it’s more about acting on those cues in the moment. Consciously making and honoring commitments to others and myself. Doing what I know to be mine regardless of what else is going on. Being the true in truth for myself.
And writing this blog post was mine to do right now. Spending the afternoon doing this rather than running around just after I returned from my trip has been deeply valuable for me. Somehow, by doing these things when they occur to me, I really do build trust with myself. I feel myself relaxing and things seem to get done with little or no thought.
Do you notice that for yourself? Both when you’ve run over your own trust and internal knowing and when you’re building and following it? What does your journey to trusting yourself look like?