What does it mean to trust, and how do we cultivate more of it in our lives? Some may call it something different – faith, hope, conviction – but regardless of the name, it requires an undeniable release or surrender to a force beyond ourselves.
Why is trust not just important, but essential? “Trust” comes from the Middle English word traust, which means “help, confidence, protection and support.” Wouldn’t anybody want more of this in his or her life? And if so, why is it so hard to just trust? Consider the opposite of trusting; it entails some concept of doubting and self-preservation. More often than not, we are convincing ourselves that we alone control the situation and the outcome, and the harder we grab onto it, the more we believe we are in the driver’s seat of life. The irony is that we expend so much wasted energy that could be put to more productive use, because in reality we do not control anything outside of ourselves.
That being said, why do we choose to believe that we are in control in the first place? Or better yet, what is wrong with not controlling? This makes me reflect on a time when I was very sick with a life-threatening infection. When I was ill, I was at the complete mercy of my caretakers, but when I recovered, I reacted by trying to control every aspect of my life. If something happened that I didn’t plan for, I rejected it immediately and took comfort in the predictable. Looking back on that experience, it makes me sad at how closed I was to life’s surprises. I had some delusion after feeling so out of control when I was ill, that I could somehow prevent that painful experience from ever happening again if I mapped out every moment of every day.
Since that time, I have lived and learned a great deal, including the fact that control does nothing but feed our egos. In truth, our egos only serve to separate us from everything else around us and from being one with the universe. I realize that it sounds a bit utopian, but shouldn’t that be the ultimate experience? If we could genuinely trust that the universe works for us if we surrender to being in complete union with its energy, imagine all of life’s possibilities.
I am not advocating for negating the agency that we have over our own lives and the power of our decisions. The challenge, rather, is to have an honest awareness about the why behind those decisions. Are we taking them from a place of love or from a place of fear? Those are the only two possibilities. When we make choices from a place of fear, we are not trusting but instead shielding ourselves from feeling pain or some other negative emotion. In doing so, we are actually denying ourselves of the human experience. To be human is not to feel good all of the time. It’s not even necessarily to feel good most of the time. It’s just feeling different vibrations in our bodies. When we choose from a place of love, we surrender to whatever outcome transpires. We believe in our own power that we can rise above any challenge. How liberating, right? If I had been able to detach myself from the pain of being sick and recognized it as an opportunity to live more fully instead of as a reason to cling to a false sense of control, I can only imagine how light and peaceful I would have felt. Instead, I chose the path of resistance, dragging a figurative self-imposed ball and chain behind me throughout my daily life.
I read a book recently by Gabrielle Bernstein called “The Universe Has Your Back” and in it she said, “You know you’ve surrendered when you trust that the universe has a better plan than you do. You no longer need to manipulate and force outcomes. You’ve surrendered when you don’t need to defend your need to control.” What a powerful statement – if I’m defending, I’m constructing a barrier and therefore separating and closing myself off to the world’s bounty. Personally, aside from evolving spiritually, my ultimate purpose is connection. If I don’t trust, I don’t connect. Period. Sometimes the cost may be failure (as in not achieving my desired outcome), and with that comes negative feelings, but I have to believe in a greater plan. Maybe the dots won’t connect for a long time, but time is not my construct to own or control either.
So what does trust have to do with it? Everything. Trust is oneness, trust is surrender, trust is peace, and most of all, trust is love. And is there anything better than love?