Trust: Variation on a theme
you know who you are and you know what you want."
I've found that living intentionally -- being open to the life lessons and life puzzles around us -- is much the same. I'm amazed at how certain themes creep into my daily life in small and big ways. Maybe this can be explained by the theory that what we focus on expands. Or maybe we actually call these signs and signals into our life by looking for them. Chicken or egg. Either way. (I've written about this before.)
One of my current themes is Trust.
A wise woman recently pointed out to me that I seem to have trouble trusting myself.
I was stunned.
She was right.
We'd been discussing my angst over making a major life decision. A close friend had previously suggested that I'm stumped because I have commitment issues. I had to partially concede the point, but the phrase "commitment issues" made me think of single, 40-year-old men who love the nightlife a little too much. It wasn't a flattering comparison. (I'm sure she wasn't picturing me as a club-hopping pervert when she said it.)
But flipping the point of view just a bit and saying I have a problem with Trust made sense.
I looked around me and saw how I don't trust myself on a regular basis. For example...
I haven't had a decent winter coat for three years. This year I finally broke down and bought one. But I wasn't sure I really liked it. So I bought a second one to compare. I felt like I was just buying coats in desperation because I knew I needed one. And then I bought a third. I kept the tags on all of them and didn't wear any for a month, debating which coat was just right. After trying each one on a dozen times, I eventually took two back and kept the last one. I'm happy with my choice. But still, I bought three coats, trying to make sure I made the "right" decision.
How many things have I bought and kept unworn or unused until I could decide if they were right for me? If something is on clearance with a no-return policy, I probably won't buy it. Being able to take something back is my safety net.
The night before my wedding, I unexpectedly developed cold feet. I was shocked and embarrassed to be so cliché. In our hotel room, I confided my fears to my mother. What she said next may be the most profound and useful thing anyone has ever offered me: "If you weren't getting married tomorrow, would you want to break up with James?" The answer was no, definitely not. "Then I think you're just feeling a little overwhelmed about the wedding." She was right. I was afraid to trust the decision I'd already made.
My mom also stood by me through another agonizing wedding moment: choosing the dress. She patiently watched as I tried on the same two dresses over and over again, one after another in rapid succession, trying to decide between the one I liked better on the hanger and the one I finally admitted to liking better on me.
My lack of self-trust -- this quest for perfection -- showed up early in life. My dad hated going school shopping with me when I was a kid. I would take an hour to choose a pair of shoes or a stack of notebooks. I go crazy with decision-making.
How don't I trust myself? Let me count the ways: as a writer, as a friend, as a thinker, as a wife, as a political citizen. I doubt and fret, picking away at the fraying seam of my own confidence, my own knowing.
Analysis, critical thinking, and research are three of my biggest strengths. They have served me well in building a business, buying a house, and taking care of sick pets. I pride myself on my ability to see both sides of an issues, to empathize with opposing viewpoints, to see shades of grey. These skills enable me to be a diplomatic mediator and a convincing debator.
Unfortunately, these very same gifts can become my tragic flaw. I can talk myself into and out of a decision ten times over before you can say "sign on the dotted line."
The decision I'm currently trying to make doesn't come with a "do-over" option. It's not reversible. There's no turning back. It's definitely a no-returns-clearance-kind-of -decision. And it terrifies me.
I'm working hard to stop the panic, the outflow of fear. And everywhere I look, this theme of Trust comes back to me again and again, like the ocean tide.
It's here in this post called "Trust".
It's here in this post called "Don't Lose Your Trust."
It's below in this "message from the Universe," sent to me by the same wise woman mentioned above after she got it from here.
Don't you think it should work like this:And there's the sub-theme to the Trust theme: Fear. Fear and love. Perfect loves drives out fear. There is no fear in love. Choose from a place of love, not fear. The sayings, the platitudes, the Truths go on and on. Call it the Universe or God -- It's calling out for me to let go and find peace.
You have a desire, you dwell upon it, move with it, and presto, it manifests?
Or, you fall in love at the right time, with the right person, they fall in love, the timing is perfect, and bingo, the earth moves.
Or, you have a huge question, you turn it over to me, forget about it, and ta-da, you just know.
Me, too. Which, actually, is exactly how it does work, in the absence of fear.
I love the Lao Tzu quote at the top of this post: "At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." I want to believe this. I want to Trust that I have the answer(s). I'll let you know when I find it.