There’s a certain expression that makes me go a little tense around the face when I hear it. ‘I know that the Universe is going to make this happen for me!’
If you know me, then you’d know why it makes me go twitchy. I believe that the Universe helps those who help themselves and I prefer to see myself as co-conspirator, rather than pawn. Action is always better than blind hope – right?We all need a balance between assertiveness and letting go Click To Tweet
On the other hand…
A lot of the things we want are a little out of our control. Without admitting a basic truth of life like that, you become inflexible and you overact to bad news. Also, you don’t have much compassion with yourself when you fail.
This post is intended to help bring your awareness to whether you are being either too passive or too controlling in your life.
Acknowledging that luck is real
Do you believe in forces outside of your control affecting your plans, even the most well thought out?
Of course you do! Luck isn’t an indulgence, it is a facet of life.
For example, you could apply for a job at the same time as a disproportionately high number of other smart, capable candidates, whose experience matches yours. Or have unexpectedly bad weather on a carefully selected vacation spot.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want, even on our best game. The Universe is a random place.
The problem with not trusting
The basic problem with not having trust in life is that you try too hard to control stuff, and you take too much responsibility for failing. You also tend not to ‘go with the flow’ and are generally quite attached to outcomes. (Buddhist philosophy says that attachment to outcomes is pretty much the sole source of our suffering).
If this blog was even hippier, I’d say something like this: without trust, your life has too much masculine energy and not enough feminine energy. Masculine energy is dynamic, directional energy, and feminine energy is creative, yielding energy. When working towards our aspirations, we need both forces.
When a plan is well executed, the sense of achievement feels awesome. But isn’t it also exciting when opportunities seem to arrive ‘out of nowhere’? We wouldn’t want to miss out on those by being overly fixated on a set process for how we will get from A to B.
Sometimes, there is a C we didn’t know about.
Taking too much responsibility
Responsibility is another one of those things that you want a Goldilocks amount of (not too much, nor too little, but just right).
Taking responsibility is the number one habit of the effective (and sane) person, as I wrote about here. But responsibility has its limits – we aren’t responsible for every little thing happening!
How do you react when you don’t get what you want? Do you tend to blame others, or yourself? If it’s others, then you need to read this. If it is the second, then you are being too hard on yourself and you need to develop trust.
Trusting too much
If you read a Gabby Bernstein book and believe that the ‘Universe has your back’, then I’m not here to ridicule you because I believe that too.
But if you rely on things working out, then that might be taking it too far. Ask yourself ‘what actions am I taking to back up whatever it is that I want?’ It is a question that I ask myself a lot.Law of attraction can make people passive Click To Tweet
Law of attraction is the so-called universal law which says thoughts become things. That teaching is useful, as it encourages people to take charge of their thinking.
But it can create passivity if you interpret it to mean that thinking alone will change the outcomes in your life. (It can also lead to the other problem – taking too much responsibility if bad things come to pass, as you see yourself as causing them.)
Getting the balance between the two positions
So what are some practical ways to get a balance between the two extreme positions?
If you don’t trust enough
Developing self-compassion: If you don’t trust enough, then one key thing to do is develop greater self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the Western person’s most underused muscle. We think that by being kind to ourselves, we might actually relax, which can only mean standards slip too. But excessive self-criticism does not keep failure at bay, it undermines your morale. So I encourage you to use calculated moments of self-compassion when you screw up.Trust is a function of choice Click To Tweet
Developing a growth mindset approach: Can you ever lose your attachment to outcome? I believe that everyone can, if they focus on the learning and not the destination. This is a trait of a growth mindset. Growth mindsetters convert failures into opportunities to strengthen trust. Trust can turn rejection, abandonment, failure and disappointment into motivation, rather than deterrents.
Practicing acceptance: Acceptance is one of the most necessary life skills, as I wrote about here. If you can say ‘all is well’ and mean it at the site of bad luck, then you are powerful.
Taking a bigger picture: It is very difficult to establish with certainty whether negative outcomes are truly negative in the long run. Poorly timed bouts of flu, or scary political results (say), may emerge to have benefits. We can only really know in retrospect.
If you trust too much
If you tend towards passivity, then I suggest that you try reconnecting with your power in life.
In Eastern philosophy, a person’s power is represented by the solar plexus chakra. The health of that energy center relates to a person’s confidence, self-belief and esteem. I wrote about some ways to develop your personal power here.The Enneagram types with a repressed action center might have more challenges with being passive Click To Tweet
Passivity might be a pervasive life strategy you adopt in order to maintain a sense of order and mental equilibrium. This is the strategy of a type nine in the Enneagram. Equally type fives and fours have a repressed action center, over relying on thinking and feeling centers.
The key to reducing your passivity in life if you are one of those types is to attempt to re-balance your intelligence. I wrote about all this more here.
So that is my take on learning how to trust without being passive in life. I think that this is really key to do.
Living life requires a balancing act between action and inaction, growth and absorbing and – yes – masculine and feminine forces.
Trust smooths out this whole ride, and makes everything a lot more enjoyable.