What would it be like to REALLY trust?
Like, 100% trust that everything is going to work out?
This is a question that I asked one of my case study clients during the trial coaching sessions when I began researching the purpose of self-doubt.
My client, Jemima, was in her mid-thirties and a successful Project Manager in the construction industry. She had recently completed a master’s degree in Project Management, achieving a distinction grade. She felt undervalued in the company where she had been working for the past five years. Despite being on the job market for some time, she hadn’t been able to move forward.
She was very familiar with self-doubt because it showed up in all areas of her life. She said “It would be lovely to be able to have an innate belief in myself that, whatever happens, I will be able to handle it.’
When I asked her the question about trusting 100%, it frightened her. She said that it felt too big and could lead to losing control.
Instead of trusting 100%, she liked the idea of keeping it small, trusting her next step, her next action.
Trust and Doubt
The topic of trust comes up a lot in coaching. This is because exploring doubt exposes the areas where we lack trust. And when we learn to embrace those areas without judgement, it brings an opportunity to develop trust.
I’ll return to Jemima’s story in a moment. But I’ve been thinking a lot about trust myself these last few weeks and so that’s why I wanted to share about it.
Have you heard that quote from Steve Jobs about connecting the dots? It’s one that I really like and have used a lot. He said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Just recently, I have arrived at a place where I’m looking back and seeing how some dots have connected and it’s a really nice viewpoint to have.
Let me share a little about what’s been going on.
Over the past year, I’ve felt in quite a stuck place with this concept about self-doubt (oh, the irony).
Having The Doubters sessions as a place I’ve needed to keep showing up for has been extremely helpful and, at many points has kept me going. I’m grateful for that.
But I’ve been stuck with writing my book and I’ve been stuck with developing a commercial offering with this work. The lack of progress has been incredibly frustrating at times.
It’s a horrible feeling to be stuck.
It’s like a sticky, mucky stew that everywhere I step I can’t seem to shake off. My thoughts are punishing; questioning, why on earth can’t I make progress here? What’s wrong with me, I should just be able to get out there and do it… Other people are getting on so much better than me. Is it my age, am I past it? Am I taking on more than I can handle? Should I just give it all up and walk away? Does anyone care anyway?
There’s little room for trusting where I’m at in an experience like this and it feels like a constant push forward pulling back.
Now, just recently I have arrived at a point with this work where I can look back and see what was going on.
I wasn’t ready.
I’ve spoken and written many times about being ok with not being ready but the actual experience of being in the middle of stuckness is one of the most difficult to accept.
I know now that I still had some growing and learning to do myself around self-doubt. And without that growing and learning, I am missing the heart of the work entirely and that’s a very good reason to be not moving forward.
I will be sharing some more in the coming weeks about this experience and what I have learned but, for now, I wanted to share this insight about trust.
When I reflect on that experience now from this viewpoint, I can consider how much easier it might have been if I was able to just let go and trust that I was exactly where I was meant to be, learning the exact lessons I needed to learn and that everything would work out exactly as it’s meant to.
I can recognise now how I was experiencing stuckness made it very difficult for me to acknowledge how far I’ve actually come, or how well I’m really doing because I was only focussed upon wanting to be further ahead than I actually was.
Perhaps I could have focussed more upon cultivating the experience of trust over doubt.
But that wasn’t my truth. My truth was that I felt stuck in the sticky, mucky stew and I couldn’t move forward no matter how much I tried
What if it wasn't wrong?
So, here’s the thing. What if none of that experience was wrong?
Even the doubting, the questioning, the messy stuckness. What if THAT was exactly as it was meant to be?
Much of the challenge around self-doubt comes from fighting our experience and making it wrong. That’s where the real discomfort arises.
So, whilst we can use our areas of doubt to develop more trust and make the experience easier for ourselves. That’s not really what this work is about – that’s not the heart of it.
This practice is more around welcoming exactly what we’re going through when we’re going through it, and not judging that or making it wrong.
This, for me, is the true essence of self-acceptance.
What if there was value in that sticky mess? That’s where the learning is. The sticky mess is where I’m really met with myself and my humanity.
And now that I’m not in the sticky mess, I’m in a place of clarity and grounding with this work, and you know what, I can REALLY feel that and REALLY appreciate it. And this is a much better place to operate from and communicate from.
But it doesn’t make any of what came before wrong. In fact, I now know that the stuckness and frustration were a reflection of how much this work matters to me. If it wasn’t so important to me, maybe I could have just let go and trust that it would work itself out.
I wasn’t ready to let go of that much control over something that was so important to me!
From my current viewpoint, that’s a powerful realisation (which I will be sharing more about in the coming weeks through The Doubters).
What happened to Jemima?
Jemima proceeded with the practice of trusting herself in small ways, her next action, her next step.
And her practice of trust grew.
In her job search, she decided to stop wasting energy by applying for just any old job.
She decided that she was going to trust that she was going to wait for the right job to come up.
And the right job did come up. And because she wasn’t wasting her energy frantically applying for everything, she was connected with her intuition and the internal YES that screamed at her when she saw the job.
She applied for the job and got the interview. She absolutely smashed the interview and they fell over themselves to give her the job.
To be her coach through this process was a dream, it was a beautiful experience to watch her develop the practice of trust and how this worked out for her.
We have continued to work together and trust is a fluctuating experience for her. Sometimes she trusts, sometimes she doubts and controls. All aspects of the human experience.
What does it mean to REALLY trust?
Well, I think it probably means different things to different people at different times. What I know now is that trust and doubt are not mutually exclusive, rather they go hand in hand as part of the whole human experience.
The power of this approach in welcoming self-doubt is within maintaining awareness of our experience, not judging our experience, accepting the wholeness of our humanness, and choosing our response (rather than old habitual ways where we often default to feeling wrong and beating ourselves up for what we are or are not doing).
The joy in this work is in having the opportunity to embrace all these aspects of the human experience.
Trust is often down to making a decision. When we can’t see the end-point, we decide to let go of that end-point and do something like focus upon the next small step or focus upon accepting that the sticky mess is what makes us human.
Often it’s when we stop fighting the experience that we gain the insight and the freedom to develop a more creative approach to our challenges.
And, you know what, my actual experience of life is that things usually work out in a much better way than I ever could have imagined for myself – so what do i know about anything?
You tell me!
I’d love to know what comes up for you as you read this.
What does it mean to you to REALLY trust, like 100%? And how might you put that into practice in your current situation?
If you want an opportunity to connect and be the first to receive more content like this – Join The Doubters (my online community where self-doubt is considered a positive force for meaningful and sustainable growth).