Faith in Trust
“I quit spending my life trying to control myself and began to trust myself. We only control what we don’t trust. We can either control ourselves or love ourselves, but we can’t do both. Love is the opposite of control. Love demands trust.”—Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”
During the spring of 2020—peak pandemic uncertainty phase when many of us were wondering “How long is this going to last?” and “Do we really need masks?”—I joined my first virtual book club. Since I live alone and work from home, I was craving human interaction and an intellectual challenge beyond work. Little did I know the book that the host selected would bring the lightning bolt that would wrap up one of the biggest lessons of my life (so far) in a pretty bow.
The bolt came by way of that Doyle quote, which seemed to summarize my mindset as I progressed further into my early 30s. I’m a recovering control addict, and for my first 29 years or so, I found as many ways as I could to keep a vice grip on life. There’s something soothing and safe about feeling like we have some power over the end result of most situations, right?
This manifested in a variety of ways, including:
- Meticulously counting calories to control my body.
- Investing in too many clothes to ensure I had the “perfect” look to wear to every occasion.
- Spending way too much time doing my hair and makeup every time I left the house, just in case I’d run into someone I knew.
- Practicing conversations in my head so I wouldn’t say anything that might spark criticism—or just keeping mum if I feared it may do so.
- Attempting to “fix” any relationship that wasn’t working, in fear of rejection.
But as I was trying to hold on so tight to these controlling coping mechanisms, I was also exhausting one extremely precious resource: my energy.
It was a slow and winding process, just as many life lessons are. But little interactions when I wasn’t in this controlled structure—say, a makeup-free run-in at the store, eating a meal intuitively, or letting go of a relationship that was never meant to work from the start—I began to fully realize that when you trust yourself and your ability to go with the flow, you discover that you’re most likely capable of handling anything life throws your way. Or as Tim Gunn so wisely advises on “Project Runway,” you “make it work.”
There’s simply no way to control or fix everything, and that’s OK. So as we enter into another resolution season, if you feel like you need to loosen up that life vice grip, I challenge you to flip this common script. Rather than trying to control ourselves, control others’ reactions, control the scale, or control our reputation, we can direct our energy toward loving ourselves. We can trust our abilities to make the right choice, then the next right choice. And by doing so, we can build quite a happy life. So come viruses, derechos, wildfires, hurricanes—whatever 2021 might bring—trust is one resolution that won’t fail you.
Karla Walsh is a freelance writer, restaurant brand manager and go-with-the-flow-human in training. Follow along with her on her adventures on Instagram @karlaswalsh, and feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
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