What I mean by “Practicing trust”

At the top of the Visible and Real blog, the tagline reads “Practicing trust. Finding voice. Telling stories.” I wrote it when I shifted away from offering writing classes to using this space as a blog. At the time, it felt true and right. It still does. Plus, wasn’t my word for 2013 “trust”?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine over at Facebook asked me what I meant by “practicing trust.” While I realize there are many ways to take the phrase, when I first wrote it and what resonates most still, is the act of self-trust.

I realize that “What does ‘practicing (self) trust’ mean?” is a question I’ve been trying to answer the last few months. The last few weeks, though?

It’s one I’ve been trying to live.

****

I’m standing behind the register, a regular customer in front of me. My marker is poised over his cup. “What is the first letter of your name?” I know I’ve asked him this before. He tells me. I guess his name, hesitant at my choice. He smiles widely and tells me that I’m correct. I laugh and joke with him, while writing his name on the cup, “I don’t always trust myself.”

“You should. It makes life so much easier.”

This coming about five hours after a counseling session talking about ways I do not trust myself (in broad terms). I stand there, wearing my green apron and connecting with this customer.

It was one of those moments where my breath caught and I felt a shift, deep in my belly.

****

Self-trust is something I have to practice. Like a difficult riff on the guitar, like any skill I want to develop and be able to claim as a habit. I’m in the beginning stages of learning, it feels, so it is something that is clunky, that sets my tummy rumbling. My hands shake and my heart races. And self-trust is about experiencing that and continuing forward.

That’s as much practice as staying with breath or the pen during meditation or writing practices. It’s coming back to my own judgment, my own beliefs. Standing inside my own shoes and choosing to walk my walk… not someone else’s.

I doubt myself. A lot. Second guessing what I do, what I know, how I act. I spend a lot of time questioning myself – and it’s not always gently.

****

There doesn’t feel an easy way to end this. The entry feels like a practice in self-trust about my own voice… and learning to trust even when that voice feels stilted, not very clear, and when it feels like every word has been pulled from me, rather than flowing freely. When I feel left with more questions than answers.

Perhaps, like with any practice, it’s in the doing that I learn the most.

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