“Let come what comes. Let go what goes. See what remains.” -Ramana Maharshi
Choosing to trust makes hardships less of a burden to bare, and it keeps our hearts calm in uncertainty. Trusting that things are happening for our highest good lets the light in when we need it the most. When you have faith, you are not in a panic.
This month, and especially this past week, has been a true test in trusting myself, life, and letting go. I’d been sitting on this post for a while, feeling it wasn’t quite “ripe” yet. Then I had my world turned upside down, calling me to practice all I’d been preaching with a heavy heart and frantic mind.
I can say that while trusting won’t ease the initial pain, if you make it a habit to trust and let go, recovery is easier, your intuition becomes more clear, and you’re able to calm your heart and look ahead.
Wired for Worry
Unfortunately, we’re wired to panic to keep ourselves safe, and there is a never-ending stream of supporting evidence on the news, all over the internet, and from the mouths of our friends, family and neighbors, all calling us to panic.
This has been the case throughout history, although it is magnified by our information-overload culture, and we can literally Google ourselves into an anxiety-ridden black hole. No matter what fear or worry pops up in our head, there is a barrage of message boards, news articles, and blog posts to support our worst fears.
Instead of keeping us safe, this need-to-know, fear-driven desire for control is harming us. It’s causing us to hold onto stress, creating illnesses in our bodies, depleting our energies, and cock-blocking the blessings and magic that surrounds us.
Trusting in your life, in every event and circumstance, and letting go of what’s outside of our control allows us the gift of remaining calm, and the clear-headedness to take the next steps forward, instead of wasting our time focusing on all this other shit we don’t want.
Every moment you spend worrying about what you don’t want is a moment you could be finding solutions and taking action to get what you do want.
Life is always going to deliver us shit we don’t want. No matter how much you meditate, how many green smoothies you drink, or how many crystals you bathe under the full moon, life is still going to be like Heyy girl, I see you’re doing good. Just dropping in to let you know you I have to put you through some bullshit to take you to the next level. It won’t make sense right now, but you’ll get it eventually. Sorry, not sorry, but you got this, love you. -The Universe
When the aforementioned shit happens, it’s natural to try to “undo” it, or to fight it, but it’s like swimming against a current- you will exhaust yourself if you try. You need to stay calm and move through it. The sooner we learn to trust and let go of control, the more gracefully we can move forward.
Pain Transforms Us
Think back to a time in your life when you felt low and overwhelmed, like the pain would never end, and one shitty surprise after the next just kept piling up. You were truly up shit creek without a paddle, and it felt like the stanky ass ride would never end.
Maybe it was a breakup, an illness, a death, the loss of a job, or a betrayal. Figure out if there was something of value that came out of that situation. Did you realize it was 100% not the right match for you, and when it fell away, it made room for something so much better, or taught you a lesson you now cherish?
Maybe you learned not to take your own, or others lives for granted. Maybe you found a better place to live, a better job, a better partner, or felt the weight of a toxic relationship lift from your shoulders. Maybe you left your old life behind and started somewhere new, and it turned out better than expected.
Even in trauma, we can learn and grow, and become more compassionate, stronger, and wiser when we make it through to the other side.
Our Overprotective Brains
Sometimes, in an effort to protect ourselves, we try to manipulate situations. We try to manipulate the way others see us (hellloooo, social media) We try to control others’ reactions, outcomes, timelines, even though there is literally no way we can do this!
Raise your hand if you’re a closet control freak. Even the laid back among us can be controlling, trying to manipulate every little detail of our lives, and even the lives of others.
Here’s the thing: You are immensely powerful, but you cannot and will not ever be able to control everything, and the sooner you let go of the illusion that you can, the sooner you free yourself from unnecessary suffering, stress, and anxiety.
There are obviously things that are in your control: your thoughts, your attitude, your actions, your choices, and your beliefs. It’s crucial we take responsibility for these things, and for our lives, but it is a waste of time and our precious, limited energy to try to control others or every little detail.
If energy is not created or destroyed, then it is crucial we use our energy wisely, and give up swimming upstream for good. It’s ok to be scared of what’s downstream, and perfectly natural to fear the unknown. Choose to trust anyways.
All of your favorite things, people, and places were once unknown to you.
Let the universe meet you halfway. Put in the work, do your best, and then let go, and leave it up to the powers that be to take care of the rest and TRUST that everything is working out for you, even if the route doesn’t look the way you anticipated, you are still on your way.
Think About It
You will be ok. You have always, eventually, been ok. You have a 100% success rate so far.
Revisiting Past Wounds
We think we know what we want, and it can feel painful when we don’t get it. But with time, we realize that thing we wanted so badly was never right for us, or it had served its purpose.
That relationship you wanted so badly to work had to end so you could flourish on your own and eventually find a healthier match. You got fired from that job and it lit a fire under your ass to start your own business. You were betrayed by your best friend, but you saw in retrospect all the red flags you were ignoring, and made space in your life for more authentic friendships.
We will never be able to control other people. Of course it’s possible for a little while, but it’s not sustainable, and is a poor investment of your time and energy.
We will never be able to control the timing of the universe.
It’s OK if you’re a recovering control freak. I was, too, and the pull is sometimes great, but with anything, as you get in the practice, you expand your tool box, strengthen the muscle in your brain, and get better. When you start to get anxious and try to control something in the moment that’s out of your control, you begin to notice what’s happening, and you can take a breath and let go instead, and feel that tension leave your body.
Sometimes letting go is painful, but anytime we let something go in our life, it makes room for something new, something better.
Learning to Trust
We must learn to trust the timing of our life. Everything that happens to us is crucial in our becoming, even the shitty parts.
I know it’s hard when we’re in pain to believe that it is part of some greater plan, but it is.
The shitty parts make you strong, and offer you access to deeper, richer experiences you may not have otherwise had. These painful blips are always teachers, and the sooner we can learn to wait out the pain, experience it, and let it move through us, the sooner we can learn the lesson and move on with our lives.
The truth is that the universe knows what you want, and it has a plan in place to get you there, and this is always shifting due to our mindset, our thoughts, and our choices in the moment. These are the only things we can control.
We can’t control exactly how we get from A to B, just like we can’t control road construction, landslides or extreme weather.
We can control how we respond to road blocks, and whether we find a detour, or turn around and go home. We can control our choices, and choose to do what feels good, and to take care of ourselves.
How to Practice Trust and Letting Go:
You could get really crazy with this, and go skydiving, or bungee jumping, or hang-gliding, etc., but we don’t need to do anything extreme to practice surrender.
1. Tape the serenity prayer somewhere in your house, or carry it with you in your wallet.
I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in a higher power, spirituality, and faith, which I often call “The Universe,” and so I took the liberty of editing this a little, but you can obviously use the original, or alter it as you see fit:
The Serenity Prayer
Universe, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking this world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that The Universe will make all things right
if I surrender to The Universes’ will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy forever in the next
2. Spend Time in Nature
Not only is this proven to make you happier, nicer, and more creative, but the more we absorb time in nature, the more we can learn from it.
Nature doesn’t rush to bloom. It stays put and lets the seeds fall where they may, it drinks the water it is given, and soaks up the sunlight that comes it’s way, and when it’s time, it blooms.
It sheds it’s leaves or goes dormant when it’s time to let go, and lets what’s dead fall away in order to give life to something new.
Nature rests, and pokes it’s head out of the dirt, unfurling it’s new leaves when it’s time.
Nature moves in cycles, and so do we, but so often, we try to fight our natural rhythms. We try to avoid and undo hard times, we distract ourselves to avoid facing difficult emotions, and we fight the present moment instead of accepting our lives for what they are: cyclical.
3. Cultivate Life
Plants, children, pets, art. We can raise them, feed them, nurture them, and work on them until they are “just so,” but they’re going to turn out how they will. They’re going to develop personalities and quirks that are not within our control, just as our art is going to be perceived differently by every person, no matter how clear our intentions are.
Choosing to nurture these things, accept them as they are, and love them unconditionally anyways, teaches us to trust and love what’s not in our control.
4. Spend Time with New People
Even though we are all always evolving, and can surprise even ourselves, when you know someone for a long time, most of their behavior is pretty predictable.
When we spend time with new people, we open ourselves up to the unpredictable, and we practice being around uncertainty. We practice trust, and acceptance.
5. Breathe and Be Present
Often, when we’re stressed or in a panic, we overthink everything, running around in circles in our mind, and we forget to take deep, calming breaths.
When you can remember to breathe, slow and steady, into difficult moments, and trust that they will pass (but only if you sit with them and process them) it will take some of the edge off.
Same thing with bringing yourself to the present moment. We can make ourselves sick thinking about what hurts us, but if something has hurt us, that means whatever has happened is already in the past.
We may feel hurt in the present, but we can choose to let go, focus on the color of the sky, our breath, the shape of the leaves on a tree, the sound of the kids next door playing, the feeling of our feet on the rug, and be reminded that we are here now, and we don’t have to hold on to the heaviness of our past, or the uncertainty of our future.
6. Move Your Body
This one works like magic for me, and I wish I’d known about it sooner. Of course, I’ve made regular exercise a habit for over a decade, however, I didn’t always know that I could use it as a tool to calm over-thinking, and take a mental break.
Moving our body switches our brain chemistry to focus on the task at hand, notice our surroundings, the sensations in our bodies, and get out of our heads. Next time you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, try going for a walk, doing some yoga, having a quick dance session or bike ride and see how it gives you a mental break and some relief.
Life will never be free from pain or challenge. New problems and desires constantly arise. When we choose to have faith, and seek tools to help us navigate life’s setbacks, we step into our power, and allow room for new blessings.