When Things are Groundless, Trust is the Ground Beneath Your Soul

by | Oct 23, 2022 | Intrusive Thoughts, Trust Yourself | 15 comments

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s, there wasn’t much that we worried about on the global scale. Yes, there was the threat of nuclear war (which we protested on the streets of Los Angeles), but, ignorant about the effects of human consumption and greed, we did things like used aluminum cans by the dozen and threw them away without a second thought. The idea of recycling was barely a blip on the collective radar, and our ignorance allowed us to continue to live as if our actions didn’t matter. Even though this was obviously wrong and unsustainable, there was something blissful about this ignorance. We didn’t know that we were destroying the planet, so we lived as if we weren’t.

Now we know, and it rips at the fabric of our souls. I don’t need to list the current challenges that we’re now aware of, but suffice to say that if you pay attention even remotely to what’s happening on the planet, you will feel heartbreak in some form daily. It’s enough to knock you off-kilter, to make you feel like the ground beneath your being is crumbling. In this groundless place, it’s easy to fall into self-doubt and doubt about the future of our planet. After all, we’re inundated with hopeless headlines everywhere we turn. (By the way, I don’t share this mindset of hopelessness, but I understand how easy it is to go there.)

It’s not only eco-anxiety that unhinges us. It’s also the painful yet essential awareness that the structures, mindsets, and systems upon which we’ve built our lives are failing. From education to healthcare to finances, humans have woken up to the fact that things need to change so that we can can create an equitable, sustainable planet for all life.

Things have been turned inside-out and upside-down, and, again, in the mayhem of uncertainty it’s easy to fall into a morass of doubt. This doubt can attach onto the world stage, but it can also seep into our personal lives and cause us to question the places we hold most sacred: health, relationships, friendship, children. For we exist in reciprocal relationships, and when the outer world is crumbling, the inner can easily follow suit. In an attempt to offer a scaffolding of stability and a false foothold of control, this is when intrusive thoughts enter the picture of psyche: Do I love my partner enough? Are my children okay? What if I’m a different sexual orientation than I thought I was? Am I in the wrong career? What is my true calling? Am I bad person or a bad friend or a bad daughter or son?

What, then, is the remedy? What is the still-point that allows the maelstrom of the world and our own ruminations to whirl around us without causing us to fall? From what I’ve witnessed over the decades of doing this work, one of the keys to equanimity is self-trust. When we learn to trust ourselves, we also trust others and life itself. We become oriented toward a field of goodness that is at play amidst the hardships of our world, and we grow practices that allow us to grow this goodness so that it overflows and extends outward.

Self-trust is the foundational stone that creates solidity even when the structures are shaky.

Self-trust is the eye of the storm that orients us toward inner calm even when the weather is tumultuous (both literally and metaphorically).

Self-trust is the island of soft, safe sand amidst the seas of uncertainty, self-doubt, and rumination.

One of the most gratifying parts of my work is walking alongside people as they retrieve their lost self-trust. Over time and utilizing the mindsets and practices that I teach in my Trust Yourself course, these clients and course members are able to take risks and navigate their lives as parents, partners, friends, children, and citizens of the world with more ease, self-confidence, and joy because their self-trust is solid. It’s not that they don’t get knocked off their seat of self-trust at times by the voices of shame and self-doubt, but when they do they’re able to find center and ground more quickly.

The same can be true for you. For many of these clients and course members, it was the Trust Yourself course that catapulted them onto the journey of retrieving self-trust, and from there they’ve been able to navigate the shifting ground with grace and solidity. As Zoe in Pennsylvania shared:

“Hi Sheryl, Forgive me if I gush, but your programs have been truly life-changing for me, and I’m very grateful.

“I was skeptical of e-courses and was reluctant to sign up for Break Free at first, but the reviews were so intelligently written and I was so desperate for relief that I took the plunge. Wow. Since joining in March of 2016, I have learned more about myself than ever before and begun a journey of self-inquiry that I intend to continue for a lifetime. I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t found your wise path to self-acceptance and curious attention. My relationship with my partner is strong, honest, and true, but we never would have gotten here if not for your work. I now understand that fear (even of the most paralyzing, painful sort) is not an indication to run. Good and beautiful things lie on the other side.

“The work I did in Trust Yourself has, for the first time, allowed me to stand firm in my own shoes and be proud of who I am, not just what I accomplish. Your stories, meditations, and dialogue on the forum helped illuminate my sticky spots and bring me into new relationship with my body. I have lots and lots of work to continue in this arena, but I’m grateful to have an entryway. The calls were a great way to connect with you and hear from others with some of the same concerns and fears as me. I also really liked the structure of the forum in Trust Yourself. Having the space to write out my thoughts and receive feedback was very, very helpful and brought more to light than journaling on my own. I can feel the work percolating… I know that it will take time to manifest in my everyday life, but I feel a shift and am very excited to lead life going forward with less fear and self-doubt and more courage and self-compassion.

“Again, thank you for what you do. Thank goodness for Google for bringing Conscious Transitions into my life! :)”

Zoe, Bethlehem, PA

Are you ready to reclaim the self-trust that lives at the center of you and is the North star, raft and rudder that will help you navigate the stormy seas of this life? The 18th round of the course starts on November 12th, 2022, and I look forward to connecting with you there. Learn more and sign up here. 

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15 Comments

  1. I’ve noticed that since my 2nd round of RA started for me this year my self doubt has gotten increasingly worse. I assume it is due to the fact that RA has lasted 10 months now. I have been working on your Break Free from RA course and I was making progress until I had a random setback 2 weeks ago. Ever since then I’m convinced I am doomed and it’s hard to trust myself. I doubt everything. Im scared that I will trust myself and realize this is all real and need to leave. I have moments where I trust myself enough to continue pushing forward but self doubt comes in 2 seconds later no joke and can push my progress back for days! Does this course overlap with break free from RA? I want to learn to better trust myself, while growing love and lessening my ocd tendencies/anxiety but maybe that is asking for too much! Haha. I really appreciate your course and blogs. It has really helped me a ton this year. Xx

    Reply
    • Hi SV
      I can’t help with regards the overlap of the courses, but when I was in the midst of my RA, when my fear based mind was telling me to leave I told myself (and my ego), “I’m choosing to stay.”
      I found it allowed me to recognise my thoughts and not push them back down so that I could work through them, but in a why allowed me to stand outside of the thought because no matter what I thought, from a rational viewpoint I chose to stay. I got quite stubborn with it whereby at times when I was really spiralling I could also tell myself it’s been bad before, I chose to stay, it got somewhat better; therefore I’m strong enough to do it again.
      I hope you find relief for a second time.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your response DeeQ. Where your “I need to leave” thoughts super constant and persistent as well? For two weeks it has been for me non stop. Sometimes it makes me cry sometimes it makes me numb, sometimes it makes me depressed. I never had these thoughts prior to my RA. I am afraid I have convinced myself that this is the only way out of the pain and anxiety although I don’t want it to be. I am just exhausted but not willing to give up.

        Reply
        • Hi sv I can truely emphathise with how you feel because I’ve been there. Twice I’ve come very close to leaving my husband thro RA thinking the same as you. But each time after telling him I wanted to leave it didnt bring me any relief whatsoever …… in fact my anxiety got even worse. I then started doubting my decision and worrying about the future ….. how would I cope emotionally & financially. Both my mental & physical health deteriorated even more. I realised I needed to listen to what my body was telling me …… rather than my mind. Thinking about leaving him was actually making me physically ill ……. so I decided to stop feeling guilty about my thoughts & chose to ignore them. I decided to stay & once again got well. I know I made the right decision to stay. I’ve always had RA to a certain extent yet we’re still together after 37 years. Learning to accept my thoughts as simply that, rather than the truth, has helped me. I realised if I’d truely wanted to leave I wouldn’t have felt so wretched about doing it. I hope this helps you.

          Reply
          • Hi Lynn,
            I so appreciate your response. This is exactly how I am feeling, a big urge to leave but knowing I wont feel better after doing so. I have talked to my husband about these thoughts and how anxious I am feeling (he knows too well I suffer from RA and chooses to battle it with me which of course makes me feel so much guilt – how can he continue to love me and be so kind to me?). Every time I have this leaving urge (which lately has been almost 24/7), I just break down and cry…I have cried so much that I am not just at an anxious ambivalence place. I dk if I am crying because I am just so tired and exhausted or because I am afraid to hurt him when he is so good to me…I have had the same after thoughts as well (how can I live without him? financially and emotionally? – he is my best friend apart from my life partner, I share everything with him). I feel very physically & mentally ill. These thoughts have gotten super strong the past 2 weeks and I am getting more convinced that they are real because why else are they getting louder and staying for so long. I have continued to do the work from Break Free from RA but I seem stuck. I have also tried therapy twice for RA and both therapists have told me that maybe this is what I want and to explore the idea of divorce and both times I have told them that is never what I wish for and I stopped seeing them. I just want these loving feelings and this secure trust I had in myself and decision to come back. Before RA I never imagined any of this being a possibility. I don’t want to loose him. So sorry for the rant! I am glad you can relate to me. Congratulations on 37 years! I am on the 7th year of marriage and this RA has popped up 3 years in and then came back this year which breaks my heart.

            Reply
          • Everything you say I can relate to. When I was at my worst it was like an obsession…..on my mind 24/7. I had some counselling & she assured me that doubts are very normal for everyone.
            But sensitive people like us take these thoughts literally & they make us feel guilty. It sounds like you have an understanding husband just like mine. I take medication to help with my anxiety & have read lots of self help books. I know how debilitating it is & so hope you soon get your anxiety back under control. The fact that these thoughts distress you so much is proof it isnt what you really want. Diversion techniques helped me. I so hope what I’ve said reassures & helps you.

            Reply
            • Lynn, thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I too take medication but have had little relief with it this year. It used to help me a ton in the past (I’ve had several anxiety themes prior to this one), but this one seems to be the toughest and medicine is not helping much. I have to put in the work as medicine seemed to have numbed it out for me in the past (hence why it returned). I am also reading ton of self help books, which also helps me better understand my brain. Anyway, thank you again. I really appreciate it so much and glad you could relate to me, makes me feel less alone.

              xx

              Reply
  2. Hi Sheryl, thank you so much for your wisdom yet again! ❤️

    I’m interested to learn more about how you sustain this well of hope even in trying times.

    And I feel this piece reflects a deep sense of calm. A place of oneness. Thank you for the reminder to return to your course materials on Self Trust. I believe your writing on pausing relates to this and has led me to notice when I turn to check my phone and seek that external validation. If instead, what if I paused to check in on myself? What notifications is my own mind sending to alert me to awareness?

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Tali: This is gold:

      “If instead, what if I paused to check in on myself? What notifications is my own mind sending to alert me to awareness?

      YES!

      Reply
    • Lynn, thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I too take medication but have had little relief with it this year. It used to help me a ton in the past (I’ve had several anxiety themes prior to this one), but this one seems to be the toughest and medicine is not helping much. I have to put in the work as medicine seemed to have numbed it out for me in the past (hence why it returned). I am also reading ton of self help books, which also helps me better understand my brain. Anyway, thank you again. I really appreciate it so much and glad you could relate to me, makes me feel less alone.

      xx

      Reply
  3. Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for this timely post.

    I find these places of hopelessness so sticky. I rarely read the news but a recent headline about a cruel murder (and a couple of announcements on Facebook about cancer diagnoses) have put me completely off kilter. I’m having intrusive thoughts about the murder (which I stupidly read more about) and am in this space of “the world is NOT a safe space.”

    I’m not surprised it’s coming up as I just connected with a deeper sense of faith and trust over the last few months (after the GTU course) so it feels like my anxiety is using new tactics – again I would normally never read about stuff like that, I don’t even understand why I would do that. I am now terrified and can barely sleep thinking about why there is so much cruelty in the world. I am petrified – exactly like a young child who thinks there Is a monster under her bed. I know I have the tools but gosh – and you name them in the blog and give them jn your courses, but it looks like resistance came back with a vengeance. It feels like I’m now on high alert – so excruciatingly aware of the possibility of death. So scared of loss and pain. So confused by the possibility of people being incredibly cruel. Yet

    I know you recommend not dwelling on the intrusive thoughts, but because a somewhat similar crime terrified me years ago, i’m wondering if I should look for the metaphor? Don’t want to get into details here, but It’s always about a teenager or young woman losing her life. And a simultaneous vain attempt to understand how a person could do that (in the preset case, it was a woman, which is why i found it very disturbing). I feel bad looking for the metaphor in a real story but I guess the psyche works the same with intrusive thoughts and dreams ?

    I can see how it could resonate with a younger part of me who was forced to grow up too quickly (and therefore died)? We die metaphorically so many times – but how often do we grieve these parts of ourselves? But I’m also wondering about what the female offender represents – it feels like it’s the voice inside of me who can be so mean; the intrusive thoughts who actually prevent me from living (internalized from my very self-absorbed mom who worried a lot and didn’t give me space to be myself growing up).

    Getting a bit in the metaphor seemed to help a lot so I will dig deeper ♥️

    I realize I have digressed from your original post but it was helpful to unpack this here. Tears are now rolling down my cheeks so all the scary thoughts have been SO good at distracting me from my grief (which I don’t need to know what it’s about – it feels like an ancestral mother wound).

    If you can think of blog posts you wrote on handling world news I would be very grateful 🙏

    With love

    Reply
  4. I’m glad you were able to unpack the metaphor and diffuse the charge. Since processing it here brought you into a deeper place inside and softened you into tears, I encourage you to keep going. If you type “world anxiety” into the search bar on my site you’ll find other related articles. Sending big hugs. ❤️

    Reply
  5. Hi Sheryl –

    What is the next step after realizing your fears? Example: I get a stomach pain sometimes when I reach to hold my husband’s hand and when I become curious I understand that I’m afraid. Of afraid of loving and of being vulnerable. What is the next step after noting this fear?

    Reply
    • I’ll send the question back to you and ask: How might your loving inner parent / wise self respond to your question?

      Reply
      • I feel like if I my sister told me she was afraid I would tell her it’s ok so right now I just tell myself it’s ok. It’s ok to be scared.

        Reply

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