One of the courses I teach for the Community College of Vermont, Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) has as its motto Trust the Process. Many college courses, especially Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, require very strong left-brain, critical thinking skills. Theirs is the world of logic and clear measurement. While PLA and many arts courses require these same critical thinking skills, they also develop right-brain functions such as reflection and intuition, open-ended, often ambiguous processes for which the reminder to “trust the process” is most helpful.
Trusting the process, whether in a course or in daily life, is one of the benchmarks of maturity. When we are very young and enter the grey areas of experience, we often do so with a sense of dread and escalating frustration brought on by black and white thinking. As we mature and integrate the many lessons life persistently offers (whether we take advantage of this learning or not), trusting the process becomes a support to our equanimity. Life requires we participate in our own and our culture’s evolution, and we soon learn that in order to do so successfully, we have to enter many dark tunnels without any assurance of their destination.
The habit of trusting the process allows us to move through the darkest tunnels – confusing, ambiguous, and even negative experiences – with an inner dialogue to support our ability to experience uncertainty without unraveling to the point of collapsing into addictive behaviours or retreating from a situation by withdrawing. I find that reframing these challenging times as long walks on which I must turn corners without knowing the landscape I will encounter helps me to extinguish my self-imposed demand for certainty. Sometimes a new landscape will throw me off balance, but with EFT my distress is short lived and my journey continues.
My most treasured book on this subject is Pema Chodron’s The Wisdom of Uncertainty. Her wise counsel suggests that when things may not be going as we plan or expect, the lack of certainty – a non-negotiable condition of human experience – gives us the opportunity to develop trust in Life itself. Solid companies we believe we will work for until retirement age move south, unemployment rates soar, and we are thrown into the anxiety of how to pay our bills. By tapping through the emotions that come up – fear, rage, injury, and despair among them – we soothe the flight, fight, freeze (FFF) process activated by serious stress and find that we can return to centre and look clearly at the options before us. The FFF response is great when we need physical power in a situation; however, blood in the service of physically fighting, escaping, or giving up during work or relationship stress ensures we will either make poor decisions or none at all. Blood in the forebrain, something tapping supports during the types of stress our modern lives bring, increases our opportunities for good decision making.
Whenever I feel burdened by the increasing ambiguities of life, I remind myself to create personal spa time (sometimes as little as fifteen minutes of private space in my car during a busy schedule), to tap through all the emotions I am aware of. For me, trust is one of the fundamentals of a joyful life, and so I always end my set up statements with a trust affirmation. For example, “Even though I feel knocked off balance by my inability to understand what is going on at this time, I trust that I will be guided to move through whatever happens with wisdom and skill, as well as with loving kindness for all individuals involved.”
By trusting the process – of a relationship challenge, an unclear work task or situation, or a personal revelation such as a medical diagnosis – and tapping to soothe our outsized emotional responses to these conditions, we are practicing trust in Life itself. As we do, we discover we are crafting the mature, congruent, deeply satisfying lives we desire.
Until next week