Trust is a huge topic of conversation between myself and my Self. It tends to go something like this:
“But I’m shit scared!”
“Trust that whatever happens, you can handle it.”
“But things could go wrong!”
“And things have gone wrong before, and yet, here you are. Alive and well.”
“But he might/she could/they are…”
“Who’s the boss of you? You’re the boss of you. Trust you. You’ve got this.”
Maybe this sounds familiar. Maybe as soon as that voice pipes up with “But I’m shit scared!”, that’s it. You freeze, or veer right or left, and go under. I get it. That was me for a long time. But freezing, or veering, or going under never got me any closer to where I wanted to be, to what I wanted to feel.
I am nothing if not brave because lately, when confronted with terror, I rush in headlong – within reason, of course. I mean, if I’m terrified to walk down a dark alley at night when I’m alone, I will probably heed that terror and seek the light. That’s just common sense. But if I’m afraid to try something because I might fail, well, that fear gets put in its place and I pull up my boot straps and gird my loins and strap on the helmet of REASON and I go in like a badass.
Most of the time. But usually not until I’ve grappled for a good long time. Because UNCERTAINTY.
Trust, for me, is very much related to uncertainty. I crave certainty like a seed craves good soil, clean rain, and sunshine. I crave it obsessively. I crave it because I lack *trust* in myself and in life itself, and I have been given plenty of reason to lack said trust. There was a very long time there where I didn’t trust my own instincts. I would often move in the very opposite direction of where my instincts were telling me to go. Usually, my instincts told me to stick with the devil I knew. Stay in the abusive relationship. Keep the shitty job. Live in the house that did not feel like home. Keep falling into the same known pitfalls rather than take a different route.
But I grew up some, and while I haven’t entirely mastered the whole ‘trusting my own instincts’ thing, I am working on it.
Working on it is a little like flooding myself with experiences in which there is ABSOLUTELY NO CERTAINTY just so I can exercise my trust muscles. This started with my writing practice many years ago. It started with Anne Lamott’s permission to write a ‘shitty first draft’. She taught me that I could always edit *after*. It segued into art journaling, into letting go of the desire for perfection, pre-selected palettes, composed spreads with rules and rhyme and reason, and trusting that I could just fling paint, and keep flinging until I was happy – that it wasn’t finished until I said it was.
Trust came into play with learning new skills, too. I had to trust that my crappy first attempts would not kill me, and that the more crap I created, the LESS crap I’d create. I had to stare down that weird face I drew – the one with the wonky eyes and mishapen lips before moving on to create ANOTHER weird face with a too long neck or too flat a head before finally creating a face that *pleased me*. I had to fill a few art journals with bad colour choices and zero understanding of composition and too much glitter (there is such a thing as too much!) and text that took up too much room or not enough before I started to fill my journals with spreads that made me really happy.
If, as a beginner, I’d needed to be absolutely certain that I’d create a perfect face every time I drew one, I’d have taken up cooking instead of art journaling, because it took a long time before I developed that kind of certainty. Many, many weird and ugly faces led to my first really pleasing one.
When we start something new, whether it’s taking up a hobby or learning a language or embarking on a new adventure, we must *trust* ourselves. We must trust that we *can* learn that skill, that practice WILL make progress, that trying is WINNING and not trying is BORING.
I’m not saying it’s easy, though. It isn’t easy. If you’re human, and you’ve had some life experience, you’re probably shit scared most of the time where uncertainty is present. But it is possible to overcome that fear, to employ trust, to be brave. I’m living proof of that, and every time I exercise my trust by taking on uncertainty in the journal, on canvas, in my life, I grow that trust little by little.
My life (and maybe yours) resembles the creative process like crazy. Try a thing. Grapple with terror. Let things be uncertain. Rest in not knowing. See what happens. Wonder and then move in the direction of wondering with NO IDEA where it will lead. Bicker with Self, who keeps insisting that trust is key. Resist. And then when resisting is untenable and you feel like you might bust a nut if you resist any longer, surrender. Go for it. Make mistakes. Fix them. Throw out a first draft or two. Pour the gesso liberally. Erase. Let those first attempts be ‘texture’ and ‘practice runs’. Keep going…
I’m learning to trust that I’ll get where I’m supposed to be as long as I keep moving forward with my own best interests at heart.
P.S. I grow my trust muscles through intentional creativity, which I teach in Book Of Days.
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