Life can feel chaotic and we don’t always have a plan mapped out about where we are going or if it’s even the right direction.

Although I’m generally a self-aware person, I only recently noticed that my tendency to hold onto the past, look back, and resist change was due to my lack of trust in the universe.

What does trusting the universe mean?

If you are a religious individual or part of a 12-step program you may be familiar with “let go and let God” or “surrender to your higher power”. As a spiritual but non-religious individual, I struggled to find a “higher power” I could surrender to. I found myself wondering what external force was ready to sweep down and solve my problems for me. Then it dawned on me that this wasn’t what these phrases were getting at.

Trusting yourself.

Waiting for guidance, a sign, or a savior positions us as dependent on external forces. Realizing that we are empowered in our own right allows us to trust ourselves to provide us with direction. A lack of confidence in our own decisions will leave us feeling directionless regardless of which course we take.

Learning to let go.

Holding onto the past indicates that there is uncertainty towards the future. Holding onto the past leads to a resistance towards change. It turns out although new experiences cause anxiety, they also motivate us. Researchers measured brain activity as it related to novelty and found that it activated the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine. This means we find false security in comfort but need new experiences to feel motivated.

Our challenges are our opportunities.

When life hands us a difficult situation it can feel like another kick while we’re down. In reality, life doesn’t always give you want you want. The challenges we are dealt can be seen as a chance for personal growth. Although we may have cursed the universe for taking something from us or giving us something we really didn’t want, a simple re-framing of the situation can allow for a much-needed transformation.

Forfeiting control.

Some people seek control more than others. I envy the people that felt no need to plan, were described as laid-back, and quite effortlessly went with the flow. Others (myself), tend to experience anxiety when things feel out of control.

However, according to Psychology Today, a sense of uncertainty about the future generates a strong threat or ‘alert’ response in your limbic system. Your brain detects something is wrong, and your ability to focus on other issues diminishes. Your brain doesn’t like uncertainty – it’s like a type of pain, something to be avoided. This explains why vowing to just “see what happens” feels challenging and unnatural to us.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I have heard time and time again that when the desire for change becomes greater than the desire to stay in our comfort zone, big things happen. The universe may be offering us opportunities that we are simply not acknowledging or too afraid to take. Conquering fears require huge amounts of trust. And if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.

Please leave a reply if you had an experience where you surrendered to the universe and had things fall into place.

References:

Cooper, B. (2013). “Novelty and the Brain: Why new things make us feel so good.” Life Hacker. http://lifehacker.com/novelty-and-the-brain-why-new-things-make-us-feel-so-g-508983802

Rock, D. (2009). “A Hunger for Certainty.” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/hunger-certainty