The difference between trust and control
The voice came from within, loud and clear: Trust is not about believing that everything will turn out the way you want, trust is believing that whatever happens you will be okay.
I was in a cab to the airport traveling to my office in Copenhagen. I had a wound on my leg that wouldn’t heal and since most health issues were a huge trigger for me this wound took over my life. I remember silently telling myself: Next time you look at the wound you will see improvement, I promise, just trust. That’s when that other voice came in and interrupted:
Trust is not about believing that everything will turn out the way you want, trust is believing that whatever happens you will be okay.
I think I had thought, up until that point, that I was quite trusting. Trusting that things would work according to my plan, that things get resolved well and that nothing uncomfortable would happen. It was at that moment I realized that that was control, the opposite of trust.
And to my surprise, when realizing that I didn’t have to control something that was out of my control, I felt a huge sense of relief. I didn’t need to try to force healing that would take its own time. I didn’t need to condition my peace to a particular state of things, namely that my wound would have healed. I could let go there and then, even when things weren’t what I thought they should be and without having any idea of what was ahead of me. And I could access peace and presence, in that moment, in a cab on my way to the airport, because at that moment, I was okay.
Now it feels timely to share my definition of “okay”. Being okay doesn’t mean always happy, or blissful, or even very well. Sometimes it means experiencing pain, being scared or grieving. Trusting that whatever happens I will be okay ultimately is about trusting in your own ability to deal with life, as life is.
To me, it’s also about trusting in a higher power that I can turn to, trusting there is a meaning and that I am carried through life. Whether you want to add that sense of security or not is of course entirely up to you.
In times of great uncertainty (which is actually always) I believe it’s important to cultivate trust. To sometimes just let go, lower your shoulders, take a deep breath and choose to trust. Trusting that whatever happens you will be okay.
Many people I talk to say they have quite a lot of trust in life, to things working out, but then comes the conditions: As long as this or that doesn’t happen. That would not be okay. I wouldn’t be able to survive that. That just can’t happen. But now we’re no longer talking about trust, according to me, we’re back to control.
Whatever life looks like right now and will look like in the future, we have very little control over things outside of ourselves. Some live in total denial of this fact and some fight like crazy to try to catch something they never had or ever will have.
The greatest comfort with being an adult is that we’ve experienced things in life and lived through them, we know we are capable, we can do hard things. And the more we learn to live in the present, the more we realize that life, right here, in this moment, more often than not actually is quite comfortable, it’s only in our heads that the scary movie exists.
And even if the scary movie sometimes plays out in our actual life, it’s usually not half as bad as we might have anticipated, because when it’s actually happening, we have the power to do something about it. We have our physical bodies, our thoughts and emotions, our intuition, our experiences and the support of the people around us. But all those resources are only available in reality here and now and never in the fantasy that only lives in your mind.
Every time your mind starts playing scary movies in your head about things that might happen in the future; put a hand on your heart, take a deep breath and remember what is real, in this moment. Let go of control of what can’t be controlled and choose trust.
If you need extra support during the current times, I’ve created a three-part series “The anxiety relief toolkit”. It’s totally free and you can sign up any time you want.
This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.