Flowing with Life

trust is a valuable life skill that opens a world of possibility
When we start to trust people and life itself, we open ourselves to its full potential, says Dr Charmaine Saunders Every day we live is an act of trust. We get up each morning, trusting that we will return to our beds that night. There are no guarantees. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that having trust and living by that code is one of the most valuable life skills. Every day, I find myself telling people how important trust is and that it comes in many forms.

Trust in God
I'm not religious any longer, but still feel connected to a higher spirit and believe that we're all part of the entire universe and all living things. So, praying is still something I do on a daily basis. It consists of affirming, blessings and thankfulness. Whether you're a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or a New Ager, faith is involved, and faith is akin to trust.

I believe in the goodness of life. That's what I primarily put my faith in. Rather than ask for intercession and spiritual help, I prefer to let go and trust in the outcome, whether I like what transpires or not.

That's something I could never do a few years ago, but part of my journey with trust has been about letting go of control. Surely that's the ultimate testament to trust, when we can relinquish the need to hold tight to the reins of our lives, and simply do our best with no assurance of success. That doesn't mean we should be passive and not strive for things, but praying with faith for what we want without the need to have it arrive is the key. That might sound contradictory and indeed it is. That's what makes it so tricky. Yet it is the formula for true success.

Trust in Self
Without trust in oneself, many, many doors will forever be closed in life. Lack of self belief leads to limitation thinking, poverty consciousness and a restricted life experience. If we live behind labels that limit us, let negative thinking take over our minds and hand our power over to other people, addictions or unhealthy behaviours, we can't expect to make progress in any of the major areas of life. A friend once said to me that when I set a goal, I only see the finish line, whereas as she always sees the hurdles along the way, thus rendering her reluctant to even begin.

Self belief doesn't mean arrogance, boasting or vanity, in fact, the opposite. It's actually more about self acceptance, recognising the need for continual growth but also the perfection of imperfection, as in "I'm already perfect just as I am." That level of self trust is what true empowerment is all about because it liberates us from self doubt, self criticism and self destructiveness.

Many addictions stem from self loathing and when we're sure we're going to let ourselves down, we invariably do and we then fail everyone around us, too. It's a negative spiral downwards.

What's required for self trust is, initially, honesty at every level. We need to know ourselves thoroughly, especially the less attractive parts, without condemnation. Self awareness is the foundation of trust because we can't trust what we don't know. Beyond knowing, there's also the trust in our ability -"I can do it" should be every person's catchcry, and if I can't, I'll find out how or ask for help - but it will be done. Determination, tenacity, assurance - these are the offspring of trust.

Trust in Magic
It's important to make room in our lives for magic. Again, it requires trust and a relinquishing of control. While we hold tight to every aspect of our lives, there can never be any joyful surprises. Control comes from fear. We fear that if we let go, our lives will descend into chaos, but the opposite is true. Glorious disorder might ensue, but never chaos.

Chaos in life is caused by chaotic thinking, misconceptions, procrastination and the like. With clarity and trust, we can truly go with the flow of life, confident that we are on the right path and the journey will always take us safely home. It's a beautiful, free way to live, rather than in the bondage of fear, stress and anxiety.

Why don't we trust in magic? How can we if we've never looked for it or allowed ourselves to see it? We hear a lot these days about the laws of attraction. Well, certainly to engage that energy, we need absolute faith. What we put out is what comes back. It's a simple principle, similar to saying affirmations. It's absolutely useless without belief. That's why a lot of people give up after a period of trying these techniques. There has to be emotional engagement or they won't work.

Magic is all around us - spiritual protection, guardian angels and guides, omens and signs, but we need to stay open to these possibilities in order to benefit from them.

Belief differs from trust insofar as the former is more definite. A friend once put it most succinctly - she said that trust is hoping, belief is knowing.

Some people buy lottery tickets for 40 years without ever really believing they're going to win. What's the point of that? They may as well give the money directly to charity.

Quietly to believe without pushing or desperation is the way to achieve goals and dreams. What is trust after all but the ability to hold onto a truth without any evidence whatsoever. When something is tangible and proven, there's no need for trust. Yet, with deep seated belief, everything is possible. Okay, I couldn't just decide tomorrow I'm going to become a nuclear physicist but then again, I have no desire to. But the things I do desire, I'm prepared to wait a lifetime for.

Somewhere out in the universe is every dream anyone ever dreamed, every wish fulfilled and every prayer answered. For these to come into our concrete reality, we only need to open our eyes, our hearts and our arms to receive.

I said to a friend recently that when you gaze out at the ocean and feel the sun on your face, you can never again fear death because you will know you are one with everything. Allowing death to come in its right time without fear is surely the greatest proof of trust.

The Game of Life
One of the books that I have found life changing in difficult times is Florence Scovel Shinn's The Game of Life, a small book full of tips and anecdotes to illustrate the author's message, which is essentially trust, trust and more trust. She says that with 100% faith, you can literally achieve anything. I've tried her ideas and they definitely work.

One of my favourite stories in the book involves a widow who had one day to sell her farm equipment at auction. Being in a rural area, she'd put flyers up in all the surrounding towns and expected a big crowd. On the eve of the auction, a blizzard blew through her farm and, outside her front door, a huge wall of ice formed. The woman could see that no one would be able to get through under those conditions. So she assigned the task to God to clear the blockage. She then went to bed, fell asleep and when she got up early the next morning, she opened the door and found that the wind during the night had blown away all the snow and ice. Buyers duly arrived, she sold all her stuff and moved on. So, what's the message here? Well, I don't know about you, but I would've been up all night checking God's work!

To ask and just know it's done is the whole point about trust. I constantly "preach" to my clients about trust as I truly believe it is one of the most vital life skills and with it, life is easier, freer and much more rewarding.

Positive Thinking
True positive thinking is choosing to see the gift in every situation regardless of the surface appearance or the pain involved. That requires a strong foundation of trust and is perhaps the most difficult test of it. When you lose your job, your lover leaves you, your house burns down or your child dies, to be able to say it really hurts, but you know that some good will come out of it, takes tremendous courage and inner strength.

I have that level of trust now after many years of feeling victimised by hard times and loss. It has been tested many times, but perhaps never more so than when my beloved aged cat was killed by a dog in front of my eyes. Yes, I screamed and wailed, but I still knew in the deep recesses within me that good would come from even such a tragedy. The very next day, many gifts arrived in the form of love, support, financial help, practical offers, friends phoning and showing up, all kinds of caring. Bad things happen, but we can't let them shake our basic trust in life's goodness. It was Max's time to go and he chose to go in a dramatic way - that's what he was like.

Even with all the love and protection in the world, we have no power over life and death. We are only custodians of our belongings, children, pets and even our own bodies. We can only look after these to the best of our ability - beyond that, it's all trusting. If any of us thinks that we can have any real security living here on Planet Earth, we're kidding ourselves. Trust, like positive thinking, is a choice. When everything is going smoothly, there's no need for trust. But when life takes us to a dark place, it means we have lessons to learn, growth to accept, strength to discover and, in those times, trust can be our greatest ally.

Letting Go of Fear
The greatest enemy of trust is fear - in fact, the two are polar opposites. You cannot have fear and trust coexisting in your heart or mind. They cancel each other out. So, again, you make a choice - live by fear or live by trust. Fear is an illusion built from past experiences, negative input from others, a faulty belief system, lack of self confidence, and - you guessed it - lack of trust. Without faith in God, Self, Life, existence is intolerable, like living in a void. That's the source of the hopelessness that many people feel, which, in turn, leads to addictions, depression, anxiety and even suicide.

There are many real issues in the world today that can engender fear, but to focus on them merely fuels the bad feelings, creating more. Good feelings multiply, as do scary, black ones. I see no benefit in concentrating on all that's wrong with the world, other people and ourselves. We live in a society that relishes bad news, scoffing at "feel good" stories. Why? Because we're afraid to believe. Afraid to be let down, to look the fool. Much safer to be cynical and expect the worst. That to me is slow death, just a facsimile of life. Too many of us stay in jobs we hate, in dead marriages, in miserable silences, in dark despair because we're too afraid to break out, take a chance - and trust! We learn early in life that happiness is not a constant, that ups and downs are to be expected, so we're constantly bracing ourselves for the aftershocks of good times, full of fear instead of enjoying what we have when we have it. We humans are not good at happiness because we don't realise that the wellspring of joy within us is continuous if we could only learn to accept it.

Inner Child
Working with the inner child involves ultimate trust because it's like releasing a captive from its prison - you don't know what he/she will bring out. There usually is rage, indignation, loss, hurt, tears, release of many kinds. But after the healing comes the wonderful part - the integration of child to adult, past to present, bringing wholeness and the completion of a broken circle that represents a broken heart. Many childlike qualities then return and are once again allowed expression - mindless joy, innocence, the following of bliss, the full embracing of life, laughter, timelessness, spontaneity, fun, living the moment and of course, trust.

Children trust because they have yet to be hurt, because they see the world as a safe place and they feel surrounded by love. That's why hurting a child is the most heinous of crimes, and why abused children never fully recover. By the time we leave school, we have already been damaged, even those of us from good and loving homes. So we lock our true selves away, safe from harm, but also shielded from all the good things that make life such a gift. We no longer run for fear of falling, or love for fear of loss, or risk because we think we will fail. To reacquaint with the inner child in each of us is to reconnect with the best part of ourselves and reclaim all the wonderful gifts of childhood. Trust in that and in your birthright of happiness and inner peace.

Trust in Love
This is perhaps the hardest kind of trust to have and hold even though it should be the most natural. Once we've been hurt by love, we find it difficult to fully trust again. Also, when we cannot trust ourselves to be lovable, how can we believe anyone will love us? These feelings are created by a misconception of what love really is.

Love has no ego, no stance, no pride, no need to be right, no conflict. Love isn't even about a person or group of people. It is as natural as breathing and we all have an unlimited supply coming from an unlimited source.

So it's illogical to ever fear a lack of love. Wanting to be loved by others is about need. Giving love without measure and trusting that you can never run out ensures a constant supply, like an everlasting spring. If we can indeed embrace that knowledge, our lives will change instantly and forever.

Imagine the power of knowing that you are precious and have infinite love to feel, offer and share. What couldn't you achieve then? No one has ever proven love exists under a microscope, but yet we see it everywhere at work - in the lives of ordinary people who care for their families, pay their bills and do their best to make a good life, in the hearts of mothers and fathers who give up everything to become parents, in the faces of people living with chronic pain and disability who still manage to smile, in those who sacrifice themselves to help others, in the homes of the old who still love and hold hands. Love is all around us and we only have to trust it. It cannot be earned or bought or demanded. It's a gift, within and without, and best of all, it's free.

How Trust Manifests
How does trust manifest in our lives?

• Sleeping well at night, for starters, because we don't fret about the day that's ended or the day to come. We know we're always okay.
• Good health because there's no stress in a life full of trust. What's there to stress or worry about when we know we're protected?
• Inner peace and joy because we can embrace life fully
• Living in the present without looking backwards or forwards
• Living without fear
• Allowing love into our lives and giving it freely
• Living a life that's vibrant, fun and joyful
• Staying positive in the face of difficulties and challenges
• We can live a much freer life when we trust, with more possibility and less restraint.