We all need trust to help us feel at ease in the world. So often when I talk with my counselling and coaching clients I hear stories of broken trust, and the pain that this brings. But trust is tricky, and elusive, and easily lost. And it is also a wonderful anchor that helps us to find our way back home.
Trust for me is a feeling that someone has my back. I can rely on this feeling when I’m confused and times are hard – I can lean into this trust and the weight I am carrying doesn’t feel so heavy any more.
But what to trust in? This is the hard question, because so often we have all experienced breaking of trust. Parents who don’t live up to supporting the flowering life of a child; politicians who don’t live up to the promises of an election; businesses that don’t live up to a commitment to care for their customers and employees. All this broken trust can get us down, and so we start to believe it is better not to trust anyone.
But can we trust ourselves? Well, even this gets eroded. We make decisions that don’t bring us to where we hoped, we make decisions we later regret. We do things that unintentionally hurt others.
So what is there left to trust in?
Alan Watts – a wonderfully insightful author who introduced eastern philosophy to the west in the 60s and 70s, wrote:
“Wu-wei is the lifestyle of one who follows the Tao, and must be understood primarily as a form of intelligence… This intelligence is not simply intellectual; it is also the unconscious intelligence of the whole organism and, in particular, the innate wisdom of the nervous system.” (Tao: The Watercourse Way (1975), p.76)
My own innate intelligence – the innate intelligence of my body – this is something I can trust. This might at first sound strange. The nervous system of the human body has been evolving for millennia in intimate relationship with the whole planet. Encoded in us is the innate intelligence of all that has gone before, and the basis of what will come in the future. Our nervous system knows a thing or two about how to get through life.
The trick is learning how to listen to it.
Our brains are very clever – but sometimes so clever that we go round in circles. Our brains need the wisdom of our bodies to ground them. Without that, we fly high above the earth, and lose our bearings, and then fear the fall.
So, breathe and listen into your body. Breathe and listen to the world around you. Breathe and listen for the still, small voice of your innate wisdom. It takes time and practice, but learning to listen like this can be wonderfully nourishing and enlightening. With this as your foundation, trust others as feels right.