“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
— Maya Angelou
I woke this morning exhausted—Not physically, but emotionally. Rather than forcing an early wake-up call, I stayed in bed until it felt like a good time to wake up.
Around 6:30am, I went through the ritual of turning on the lights, washing and moisturizing, all while taking in the familiar beat of The Economist’s Morning Edition and NPR’s Up First. It was a muggy morning but otherwise business as usual.
By 11am, the news had come through. It was no longer a ‘business as usual’ Monday.
“How are you feeling?” someone close to me asked over lunch.
“Nothing,” was the honest truth.
I was numb. I had every reason to feel — a sense of injustice, fear, frustration. And yet, I felt completely calm with maybe a mild degree of irritation by all the extra attention.
There’s a certain peace when you know you’ve operated in a way that honors your values: Even if others let you down, you didn’t let yourself down.
Unfortunately, the creep of the day’s events later caught up with the doubts in my head. By about 1:30pm I was hit by a wave of deep frustration and anger. Had I trusted too much? Should I have raised more of a riot? I started to question how I’d navigated and negotiated my decisions over the past few weeks.
And that’s when I knew it was time for a walk. Where I was heading or how far I’d go weren’t decided when I closed the door behind me. I just knew it was time to do something different.
One thought came back to me: Had I trusted too much? I had lived by my values, to start with trust and only update my default belief when I had reason to believe my trust was in violation. Unfortunately, today I felt I had extended my trust too far and as a result I was left suffering a loss that maybe I could have prevented if I had trusted less.
However, I was hit with a eureka moment when I heard this toward the end of a podcast:
One of the biggest casualties of heartbreak, disappointment, failure and our struggle is not just a loss of trust with other people but the loss of self trust. When something hard happens in our lives the first thing we say is, ‘I can’t trust myself. I was stupid. I was so naive.’
This braving acronym works with self trust too. So when something tough happens — I recently went through a really tough failure — I had to ask myself: did I honor my own boundaries, was I reliable, can I count on myself, did I hold myself accountable, was I really protective of my stories, did I stay in my integrity, was I judgmental toward myself, did I give myself the benefit of the doubt, was I generous toward myself? Because if braving relationships with other people is braving connection, self trust is braving self love, self respect – the wildest adventure we’ll take in our whole lives.
And so what I invite you to think about when you think about trust is if your own marble jar isn’t full, if you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have. I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves but say ‘I love you’.
Hearing this wisdom, I was taken back to lunch earlier.
I had replied, “Nothing” when asked about my current emotion, but I had also forecasted that, “My chief concern is not letting the situation change me.” I had recently learned of a book called Better, Not Bitter. This is the mantra I wanted to make my refrain. I’ve come to realize if you can go to bed knowing you lived by your values and can still find that spark that makes you come alive, then everything else will take care of itself.
Choose to bet on yourself, to trust yourself, get after it, and let the rest take care of itself.
Photo source: phebe wahl