by Laura Staley, Cherish Your World
The Dance of Trust and Discernment Living true to ourselves seems to require deep self-reflection and periods of utter confusion: Who am I? Why am I here? What the heck just happened and what do I do now? Who am I in this moment? Swirling in a sea of change can create a storm of confusion and ambivalence. What anchors us to meaning, to purpose? Where can we find that when life turns completely upside down?
Trust is my word for 2017, and already life has presented experiences that have challenged and supported my experience of trust—what I think it means, and how it lives and breathes in my life as an actual experience.
I’ve had the chance to reflect on what this word means and how it runs around in my life, anchors me to truth, or comes with me in my coat pocket. I have found, however, that trust on its own is not enough; I also need to bring discernment to the situations I face and the thoughts I have.
As I continue to cultivate the capacity to discern, an empowering dance unfolds between trust and discernment. Trust means to me the ability to count on people to show up fairly consistently as whom they claim to be. I trust people I know and care about to be fairly consistent in the way they respond to me on social media, in texts, and in person. Trust applies to inanimate objects too: I trust my oven to work when I turn it on and the electricity to flow. I even have lots of moments I completely take this for granted.
I know all of us have challenging moments that may have us react, sometimes badly, but with self-accountability, remorseful apology, and course correction, we can get back on track with being consistent and trustworthy.
The qualities of a person cannot be trained into or imposed on him or her. An authentically kind person, for example, will most likely show up kind in many different situations and a variety of venues. The energy essence of a person will travel with him or her. When this experience of reliability shows up fairly consistently, it may lull us into a walking daydream of sorts. Taking things for granted becomes a passive type of trust. We turn on a faucet and the water flows. We open up our laptop and press a button and voila. Our colleagues greet us with kindness and good humor, and off we go. Yet what happens when things don’t work or work intermittently, people seem different than we expect, and something seems off- kilter?
I don’t know about you, but I get confused and uncertain about what to trust.
If I reflect upon the past, I can find reliability and consistency, but in this moment of off-kilter, I struggle to trust this object or person outside of me, but I’ve learned I can trust myself. I can begin to discern truth from lies, reality from pretense, darkness from light, and the subtle nuances along a continuum of human behaviors.
Sometimes the betrayal of trust is crystal clear and sometimes it is more subtle. How we respond when life goes wonky and people betray your trust or the toilet doesn’t flush reveals a new type of trust, an inner knowing that we can handle it, be resilient, endure it, and maybe even respond with dignity, grace, and discernment.
It’s helpful to ignore the internal thoughts that disempower us, such as “I cannot trust anyone!” or “I must only rely on myself!” I often say to these voices, “Thanks for sharing. Adult Laura has got this.” Usually those voices feel terrified and vulnerable. They may need reassurance. This becomes the powerful and important internal work that we can do. It’s not for the faint of heart. It takes rigorous self-awareness of both what is happening inside us and what’s coming out of our mouths. I’m more likely to laugh at a broken toilet, though I admit I used to yell at people and things when they didn’t perform as I thought they would.
I’ve had a learning curve inside this dance of self-trust and discernment, but now I can respond more often than I react. In this past year and a half of rolling storms that don’t seem to end, it’s not likely I will yell at anyone or anything unless I am profoundly provoked. Most of the time I breathe and observe from a deep, quiet presence I’ve cultivated over a lifetime of having challenging experiences.
In these past few weeks I have released belongings in my home that I associated with people who no longer are going forward into my future. I thank each of these items for all they have given me as I internally thank and bless the people associated with these objects. I am complete with the object and with the relationship. It frees my home and life. It has the power to free yours, too.
This time of year can be a great time to let go of belongings in our homes that block our full expression and bring closure with those who are no longer part of our lives. I also now know that wonky days often lead to beautiful ones, and that even a difficult day holds beautiful tiny moments that take my breath away in their sweetness and sincerity.
These stark contrasts show up as indicators of my ability to rise strong, of my ability to break free of unworkable relationships, and continue to attract healthy, vibrant, and uplifting ones. Beneath the chatter within and outside of me is the ability to discern what feels good in my gut and what doesn’t. Sometimes trusting my gut and heart must trump the training of “be a nice person at all costs” or “just suck it up and endure this” that can also whisper briefly in my mind.
Trust lives inside of each of us. Whether it is clothes that actually fit us or new friends who make us laugh, we can tune into this deep internal wisdom. Sometimes it takes courage to walk away from what isn’t good and toward what is exquisitely wonderful for our well-being. When we know we can trust life to guide us to the next right choice, we can surrender to grace, relax, and breathe.
Maybe trust simply means relaxing into that deep breath of life and rising strong, walking forward no matter what. Here are some suggestions for cultivating inner trust:
• Try to get quiet inside of yourself before reacting to a person, situation, or physical object that isn’t working as you thought it would. Inside this silence, tune into your body and your gut, and hear the truth that bubbles forth. Our bodies don’t lie about what is actually good for us and not good for us. The trick becomes one of tuning into the place of deep truth.
• Listen to others with presence and run their advice by your own inner guide. Often people who care about you have all kinds of opinions and ideas of what could work for you in a situation. This may be incredibly helpful and some of these suggestions may resonate. Consider listening to your heart and those who deeply care about you. Your gut knows who these individuals are.
• Ask yourself these questions to spark an internal dialogue, or discuss them with a friend or colleague who cares: Does this belonging or relationship add value to my life? What am I learning from this relationship that helps me evolve as a person? Can I still bring value to this relationship in a healthy way? Has this belonging fulfilled its purpose in my life?
• Leave any relationship that turns into an abusive one. Hold up a red card and respectfully request that this person walk off the soccer field of your life. You are worthy of beautiful and uplifting relationships and ones that add value to your life. Consider going to work on your inner feng shui to clear away beliefs and feelings of unworthiness, victimhood, and self-loathing. Who you are is completely separate from the mistakes you have made. Commit to making healthy choices going forward that help you see yourself as valuable, lovable, and full of life, skills, gifts, and talents.
• Cultivate a loving relationship within yourself. Consider ending the internal drama of bickering people inside your mind, half of them telling you lies and the other half telling the truth. Seek professional help if the internal drama is getting the best of you.
• Before making an important purchase, give that item a test drive to be certain it meets your standards, needs, and desires. Return purchases that are not a good fit.
I welcome your comments and insights! Connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (@laura_cherish). “Love your space, love your life!”
Bio for Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura helps people thrive in the physical spaces where they live and work. She educates people about the optimal arrangement of belongings for comfort, safety, and flow; de-cluttering for freedom; and staging for an efficient and rewarding home sale. Laura knows that the conditions of our homes and workplaces shape the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by more than a decade working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to help her clients produce remarkable results in their lives. Her own awakening to the power of feng shui came on the heels of a flood and the realization that she could live with beloved belongings rather than unloved hand-me-down stuff. Feng shui invites us to live with what we love and enjoy our lives. Her trifecta of helping people includes public speaking, writing, and consulting. Laura is a published author of the book Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui. Prior to becoming the founder of Cherish Your World, Laura was a full-time parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Each summer she competes in a triathlon named after her dad. Her joys in life include parenting, loving her dog, spending time laughing with great friends, running, biking, swimming, dancing, reading, meditating, practicing yoga, and listening to music she loves.