It would seem to me that we human beings have some dichotomies (opposites) that we really struggle with. Some examples are pain vs pleasure, love vs hate, joy vs sadness. However, there is one that is less obvious and which causes some to become trapped in a life that they never intended to live when they first dreamed as a child what their life was going to be.
One of the dichotomies that we don’t really talk about much or examine with enough clarity of mind or conscious awareness is that of certainty vs trust.
At first glance these two words or concepts may seem very similar and even possibly the same but they in fact almost polar opposites. Why? Because when our lives are driven primarily by the need to achieve certainty then we are actually not displaying much trust at all.
Trust in what? Trust in ourselves, trust in life, trust in others, and yes even trust in God – whatever you might conceive him or her or it to be. I will get into that in a minute but let me first provide this little anecdote from my own life.
I remember as a young boy dreaming about the things I would love to do one day with my life, and as with most boys the theme of rescuing damsels in distress was never far from my mind. I remember running around our back yard in South Africa pretending I was a kick ass detective with martial arts skills who had to find and rescue the beautiful lady. Later, I thought I might actually like to join the police academy and find the love of my life on our very first day of training. I also dreamed of becoming a famous singer and musician on stage and receiving standing ovations at the end of my performance. I could hear the crowds going wild.
But, as with all childhood dreams, as we grow up and learn more of the world and what is “possible” and what is not possible for us and our lot in life, we begin to doubt and indeed we may even begin to believe that it is something for others, that others can achieve, but not us.
I did not pursue becoming a police officer, detective or rock star…although who knows it could happen…anything is possible but I at least do feel that I do what I am passionate about. I didn’t always though. After studying psychology and registering as a psychologist I ended up working in human resources for several years until one day I had the kind of epiphany I am talking about here and I had to completely redirect and reinvent my career. And thank goodness for that. And I can also tell you that some of that was out of necessity and some out of my powerful drive to be on purpose.
Where do these limiting thoughts and beliefs about what we can be do or have come from? What stops us from following those childhood inner yearnings which seem to be point us so clearly in a passionate life direction?
Our doubts limiting self beliefs may have come from our own parents’ attitudes, beliefs and conditioning. If they never took any risks themselves to follow their own dreams and if their own role models had never done the same, how likely would it be that that they would try to pass on that kind of attitude to their children? Admittedly some do seem to realise later in their own lives that opportunities had been lost and that they should never have given up on their dreams so easily and so they do in fact encourage their little ones to reach for the stars and keep reaching no matter what. Those are the lucky ones indeed.
We may, as we get older, look around us and see that others seem to hold the same views and attitudes that only a select – very lucky – few in this life get to follow their real passions and dreams and “make it” or become successful enough to make a living doing what they love.
And so we move towards the less threatening certainty model in which we carve out a “safe” path and we do our best to ensure we have a good, solid job or career to “fall back on”.
However, the funny thing is that the “very lucky few” who followed their dreams and made it don’t seem to have bought into that same attitude. They don’t ever seem to have said to themselves that they should play it safe, be rational, sensible and follow the path of least resistance. Seems to me that the path of least resistance leads to the town of “nobody wants to be here anymore” because its boring as bat shit.
And so we come to the “opposite of certainty” which is trust.
Dr. Wayne Dyer was fond of talking on stage about this issue of trust using the analogy of the creation of a baby. He would tell his audiences that when a woman falls pregnant, aside from some of the things she knows she may need to do to ensure her child is born healthy, there is not a hell of a lot that she can actually do to affect the process or outcome of the eventual birth of the child.
She cannot go into the womb and help the foetus practice growing its hands or feet or encourage the development of its fingers or toes. She just has to trust that nature, God, the universe will take its course and that the process of gestation will occur. She has to trust completely that the little speck of human plasma will grow into a fully functioning and “miraculous” human being.
However, once the baby is born, as Dr. Dyer would say, it is as if the mother and father basically say: “Thank you God or Universe or [insert your favourite deity], but we will take over from here” . As if it is at this point that Universal intelligence washes its hands of us and walks away. We all seem to lose faith and trust that there is a natural unfolding that is taking place not only for the baby but for us and everyone and everything else that follows in life.
Shifting back to the idea of our own dreams and passions in life, so many begin down a path that they have not really given enough thought to and it is not something to feel bad or guilty about because in all honesty who the hell really knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they are 18, 19 or 23 years old. Some “lucky” few again seem to accomplish that feat but not the majority of us. These things change over time, but in our need for certainty, safety and stability, we choose to stay stuck in our self-imposed prisons.
Until, one day, when we are forty something, or maybe thirty something or maybe fifty or sixty something (as in the case of our good friend Colonel Sanders) – we suddenly get the mother of all ice bucket challenges thrown right down on top of us…which is a realisation of our own mortality which taps us on the shoulder and we realise that although we thought we would live forever when we were five or six years old….we won’t…at least not in physical form.
And we also come to realise that “certainty” was never really the “safe” option and the thing we needed to do the most was trust that if we took the leaps of faith, we would be supported in our efforts to reach towards our most deeply held desires in life. We know what they are…we have just become very good at allowing our need for certainty to fool us into thinking that they don’t really matter.
And so, my friends, I leave you with this:
Life is not meant to be boring. We are not born to grow up, study mathematics, get through high school, study a profession, pursue a career (often one that we are not really happy with anyway), find someone (or not), have kids (or not), grow older (or not), play with our grandchildren (or not) and then die. Is that what we are here for…to perpetuate the human species? To what end? What is the purpose of being here on earth for the relatively short time that we get to be here?
I would love to know your thoughts on this. Really, I am not kidding.
Please provide your comments below. I will write a follow up blog if there is enough commentary to provide a variety on perspectives on this topic. I know it is close to the heart of many of my clients as well as some of those closest to me who know who they are if they are reading this.
All the best in your life’s journey and the pursuit of everything you hold dearly in your own heart.