Trust the universe. We’ve all heard the phrase. It usually gets thrown at us when things are falling apart and the person sitting across from us has little else to offer in the way of comfort. But what does trusting the universe even mean? I believe it really boils down to our ability to trust in ourself. That said, how do we trust ourself, and feel steadfast in our knowing, when we have spent a lifetime being conditioned not to trust ourselves?
An Outward Search
When my husband and I got the opportunity to move to Hong Kong I was 12 weeks postpartum with my first born, still on maternity leave, in a haze of sleep deprivation and dirty diapers. Move to Hong Kong? Ha! My initial reaction was a mix of curiosity and mostly this is ridiculous…we just had a baby! I have a career here! Our friends and family are here! My logical mind, full of reason and other peoples voices, had A LOT to say about this. My inner guidance, a subtler, more gentle voice, knew this was an opportunity we were supposed to take. I could feel it in my body.
Still, we began the outward search for answers and guidance. Asking our parents what they would do. Asking friends if this was crazy. Searching for some permission slip to follow that internal knowing. Naturally, the external answers varied widely from full on support to masked guilt to fear. “This is an awesome opportunity!” “You’re going to take your daughter away from her grandparents?” “How will you make friends?” “What about your job?” I didn’t have the answers to those questions but I did have an inner knowing. Still, in the search to validate my inner knowing, the sturdiness of it all became muddied and confused. Was this the right decision?
We are not born with a lack of self-trust. We lose trust in ourselves along the way. As children, we are taught to listen to our parents and teachers. As empathic or sensitive children, so often we are told things like “it’s not that bad” or “stop crying” or “you’re overreacting.” We begin to question our own feelings and our own truth. We are punished for being too sensitive, too quiet, too much, and we recoil inward, trying instead to match what is expected of us externally. Losing a piece of who we are, losing that connection to ourselves. Without that soul connection, without that voice, we become lost and an ache forms inside of us. Maybe we get a great job with a bunch of accolades because we’ve taken all the “right” steps, but inside it feels like we are screaming to be set free. Following the voices of others, the path to look good on paper, the steps to receive external praise, will only ever leave us with a dull ache inside.
So, how can we hear that voice inside when we have spent our whole lives silencing it? Like any other relationship, we must cultivate a relationship with ourselves to rekindle that trust. We must be willing to sit with ourselves, to see ourselves, to validate ourselves, to listen to ourselves, and to love ourselves.
This sounds simple enough, but if this is a new muscle for you, be gentle with yourself. The year I set out to really, truly rebuild that connection to myself was the most time I’ve ever spent lying on various floors sobbing. It wasn’t pretty. It was raw, painful, and confusing. I was angry, sad, lost. How had I strayed so far from who I am?
It wasn’t a walk in the park, and it is something I still practice at every day, but rebuilding that connection to myself was 100% worth it. In a world that is determined to strong-arm us into abandoning ourselves, we must be ready to choose ourselves over and over again. Because when we can follow that inner voice above all the noise, and all the fear, then we can stand in our own true peace and power.