I wrote this post about overcoming lack of trust to get ready to collaborate for Equallet - an online platform to discover women-owned businesses.
In my work helping individuals change careers, I often bump into a big issue: lack of trust. As there is more and more talk of collaborating with other businesses or team members, lack of trust can be a huge impediment in building good collaborations and healthy partnerships. If you feel something is keeping you on the defensive, closed up, or too mistrustful to really partner up, you might need to do some healing first. Here's how.
1. Let go of the past.
Pay attention to your thoughts and words: are you putting what happened in the past in your future? When you think about what you want to pursue, do you find yourself thinking of what happened in the past? This might be causing your lack of trust. Let the past be the past. Write the lessons you learned and make a note of what to ask or research in order to avoid falling into situations you don't like. And then move on.
Sounds easy, right? Sometimes, though, it is not the mind, but the heart that needs to let go. I love this quote by John Ciardi - even though it is so dramatic! - “You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.” It points to the inescapable reality that by adulthood we have already accumulated a series of failed relationships and broken expectations. And often we pick up a few more on our way to building the career we desire. By the time you find yourself creating a new collaboration or partnership, the weight of all the broken promises and disappointments from your past can feel like excess cargo threatening to sink your ship. Time to toss it overboard in order to overcome your lack of trust.
You cannot step into a new relationship without first letting go of the past. If you don’t clear your pain, you risk mistreating others who have nothing to do with what happened to you, building a wall of defensiveness and reacting to what’s behind rather than in front of you. This at best will prevent you from genuinely connecting, and at worst will recreate whatever dynamic you failed to properly let go of. This is why overcoming lack of trust is so important.
So how do you let go of the past? The best way I have found to deal with it is to practice a gentle form of release. Ditch positive psychology, affirmations or other ways to avoid feeling uncomfortable, and instead let yourself feel.
Lie down and focus your attention on the emotions about what happened, as they arise. Where do you feel them in your body? Follow them, let them come up and let yourself fully feel them. Sometimes as you stay with your emotions, you might feel them pulling you back into the past, to the many situations when you felt the same way over and over again. Keep feeling and releasing everything that comes up. You might cry or feel angry, it's all OK; anger is OK; sadness is OK. Once these feelings move through you, their impact will lessen. You might be able to let them all go in one session or you might need multiple sessions. Don’t judge, just let yourself feel, and trust the process.
At the same time, always be compassionate towards yourself. It's OK to feel however you feel. If something from childhood unexpectedly comes up, talk to your inner child and reassure her: explain that it's OK to feel however she feels and that what happened was not her fault and she is very much loved and will be OK. You can do the same with the “you” from the past who experienced all that went wrong. You can now forgive yourself, "hug" yourself, share supportive words, and send tons of love to your Self.
Once you have released the pain from your past, ask yourself how you want to be treated and how you want to treat others. Sometimes we allow people to treat us in a certain way because that's how we treat ourselves. Do you honor your feelings? Do you value your contributions? Start by shifting the way you treat yourself and commit to only building partnerships that honor your values and everyone involved. Taking more positive action will help you overcome lack of trust.
2. Develop a practice of Mindfulness and/or Meditation
As you let go of the past, you will find that you can deal with the present from a neutral space - evaluating every possible situation and partner for themselves and not in reaction to past experiences. However, it’s easy to fall back into unhealthy mental patterns if we don’t have a practice to keep us in this neutral state. That’s where mindfulness and meditation come in to help you overcome your lack of trust.
You don’t need to go on month-long silent retreats, become a Buddhist, or even meditate two hours a day; 5 minutes a day are enough to start and will take you further than you can imagine. It is amazing to me that we can go through all our formal education, including college and graduate studies, without learning how to self-regulate. Your mind, if not dealt with, will create so much turmoil to derail even the best laid plans. If you are interested in the topic, I wrote about my journey to meditation and also busted some of the most common myths about meditation here.
For this post, let me share a few tips on how you too can develop a practice to calm your mind and keep in that neutral, present state of awareness.
- Try different mindfulness and meditation approaches and then choose to stick with the one that feels better and easier to you. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t have to be difficult in order to be effective: each one of us is a little different, but all the paths lead to the same results of inner peace.
- Try an in-person gathering or class. It is really hard to learn how to meditate from an app or YouTube video. It’s much more effective to first learn from a person in a group setting and then use technology to keep up with the practice. When people meditate together, their mental vibrations actually link and support each other, creating a much deeper experience for everyone present. If your teacher is a very powerful meditator, just being in her presence during meditation can carry you to a much deeper state. Don’t take my word for it it, give it a try.
- There are many approaches to meditation, your practice need not be silent or still. If you want a more physical practice, choose a type of yoga such as MySore Ashtanga or Kundalini. Hint: if there is a mirror in the studio and your teacher is all about looking good on instagram, it’s not the type of yoga that will help you. Yoga is about training your breath which is said to be more powerful than the mind, and it is a form of meditation. It is never about looking good - although that might happen as a result of the practice 🙂
Sound baths and chanting are also forms of meditation and work event better than sitting in silence for some people. If you are intrigued, there are lots of opportunities to explore these modalities in LA.
Here are some places where you might explore these different approaches - please note that I am not affiliated with any of them: Yoga West, Yoga Shala West, Zen Center of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Vipassana Meditators, and there are many many more!
3. Love yourself unconditionally
The third step to overcome your lack of trust is the toughest and most powerful of all: love yourself unconditionally. The more you can love yourself unconditionally, the more you will be able to love those around you and say No to potential partnerships and collaborations which would not be good for you, while creating healthy ones instead.
Let’s first talk about what unconditional love is not: it is not making excuses for all your bad behavior, putting yourself first by taking advantage of others, accumulating Instagram followers to inflate your ego, buying stuff to feel better about yourself or positive thinking.
Loving yourself unconditionally means that you love yourself even though you are a flawed individual who sometimes messes up. It means that you can lovingly work on growing into a better person and your love for yourself is always there and stays the same throughout the process, because you finally get that love is not dependent on anything you do, it just is. It means you love yourself enough to say No to what hurts and also love yourself enough to let yourself feel the hurt and let it go. It means you generate so much love inside that it spills over to all around you. Unconditional love for yourself means you treat yourself with compassion, care, respect and non-judgement, and you extend the same to all around you, without making anyone more or less important than anyone else. It means you choose partnerships out of love, not obligation, nor out of fear.
Integrate these three practices into your life and you will open up possibilities for collaborations far more satisfying than any you experienced in the past. As you cultivate an inner state of peace, love and compassion, your outer reality will start to shift: you will find yourself better able to evaluate situations, easily discerning between good opportunities vs situations that do not honor you and your work. And people who vibrate at the same frequency will recognize you as someone they want to connect with. You will not feel attached to situations that don’t work, because your love for yourself will not be conditional on things working out anymore. No matter what happens you will have found your unchangeable core and will always be able to re-center yourself.
What have you learned by opening yourself up to collaborating with people? Share it in the comments!