How Did You Learn to Trust?

By far, the most common question I get asked is:

How Did You Learn to Trust?

Similar to that question, follows:

  • Did you always trust?
  • When you were little, did your parents teach you to trust yourself?
  • Did they teach you trust others?
  • Did you read books on the subject of trust?  Which books?
  • Was there a particular experience in your life that helped you learn to trust?  (Now we’re getting warmer!)

These questions usually crescendo to one final question:  Can you teach me to trust?

Today, I hope to shed some light on the HOW part of trust.  Specifically, how I learned to trust.  And in doing so, my hope is that something in this post will resonate with you, making it easier for you to trust.

First, I have to begin with a different question though:

Why Is It Important to Trust?

Simply stated:  Trusting Brings Peace.  And peace is what I seek more than any other thing, even more than love or happiness.  Trust unlocks the door to peace… and it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

For practical purposes, and also in order to stick with a true life example, and not talk in hypotheticals, I’m going to continue to use the “What If?” or “Oh shit” biopsy example from the last TLT post, “Once You Say It Out Loud, Strap On Your Seat Belt!

Since I’m using this example as a means to explain how I learned to Trust, and because most of you have never experienced this exact scenario, I think it’s important to set the stage so you can better relate.  Here’s some context:

Okay.  So, imagine you’re 40 years old, you’ve never had a mammogram, but you know you’re supposed to have one at 40, so you schedule your appointment, arrive, do the whole squeeze/squash/smash thing, and go home.  You are expected to receive a letter in the mail the following week, but instead, you receive a phone call the next day from the radiologist’s office.  They tell you the doctor need to  “look a little closer.  Can you come in for an ultrasound and extra films as soon as possible?”

Hmmm…as soon as possible.  Needing to look a little closer.  This is where the “What If’s?” begin.

Alright, so you go back to the radiologist’s office, do the ultrasound, then later more squeezing/squashing/smashing.  Get dressed and the doctor comes in.  “Looks like I still need to look a little closer.  I see something I’m not quite sure about.  Can you schedule with the front for a biopsy as soon as possible?”

Hmmm…as soon as possible.  Needing to look a little closer.  Biopsy.  More “What If’s?” are growing, taking root.

Biopsy complete.

Awaiting results.

Your phone rings.  You receive the results.  You hear the words spoken out loud.  Your world quickly shifts from the unknown: “What if… I have cancer?” to the known: “Oh shit… I have cancer.”  It happens in the amount of time it takes the doctor to deliver the biopsy results.  In my case, less than three seconds.

*** What I didn’t mention, is that every single “What If?” thought I had was completely encased in trust. ***

How Were My “What If?” Thoughts Encased in Trust?  How Was that Possible?

Learn to trustI almost don’t know how to write this next part.  I realize it’s one of those things that some might say, “No, that won’t work for me.”  Or, ”That’s a bunch of hooey.”  Or maybe, “Huh?  I don’t get it.”

Let me begin by saying this has taken practice.  Lots of practice.  And just like I know you have your “stuff” — the stuff that makes some days difficult to face the world, well, I too, have had my stuff.  And I’ve spent many years practicing and practicing on my stuff.

Before I was able to practice though, I had to have a foundation.  My foundation is part of a belief system that I’ve written about many, many times, however, I’ve never explicitly connected the dots like I’m about to.

Okay.  Here goes.

  • There are no accidents.  Everything happens for a reason.
  • There is a higher power, the Divine, who is with us at all times.  We are never alone.  Not in our joys, not in our sorrows.  Never.
  • I believe in this higher power, and I believe that not only does everything happen for a reason, but everything that happens is supposed to happen.  Everything.  I believe this to the extent that if I live through breast cancer, Thy Will Be Done.  And if I die from breast cancer, Thy Will Be Done.

What Does Control Have To Do With Anything?

I have no control ultimately over my mortality.  When I die.  How I die.  What I do have control over are choices about how I live.  And I choose to live believing in a higher power, the Divine.  One who knows and sees far more than I am capable of.  One who knows that if I die today, tomorrow, or decades from now, I will have touched the precise lives I was supposed to touch within that precise period of time.

This post is written through the lens of the example of a biopsy leading to a cancer diagnosis.  However, it applies to any other situation you’d like to put it on.  Losing a job, illness of a child, divorce.

I no more have control over my mortality than I do the mortality of my children.  Sure, I have control over the food I put in front of them, but not necessarily what or how much they eat.  I have control over what time I put them to bed, but not necessarily how much sleep they get.  Ultimately, I don’t have control over much of anything.  Once I understood how fruitless my efforts to control ANYTHING were, the act of surrendering and letting go became much easier.

Fully understanding (and embracing) the fact that I’m not in control led me to:

  • set aside my worry
  • accept What IS
  • pray with no attachment to the outcome
  • relish in knowing I am not alone
  • Surrender and Let Go

And surrendering and letting go led me directly to trust.  This combination saw me through what would’ve otherwise been a terribly difficult time (let’s face it, it was bad enough, I didn’t need to add to it).  It’s also the one thing that cured my 20+ years of off-and-on insomnia.  It’s what brings me peace.  And yes, it’s still a daily practice.

Becoming Re-Wired

Learning how to trust was not part of any formal childhood teaching.  It’s not the way I was wired, but rather the way I re-wired myself.  I chose to believe in a higher power, in trusting that higher power, in all of it.  My beliefs have come from years of reading, studying, practicing, and ultimately, listening to what my gut has told me is my Truth.

My Truth is to Trust.

It leads to peace.

And what I want more than anything on this Earth, is to have peace.  Deep,  solid peace within.  So I trust.


I hope this helps answer your questions, or at least helps you to start thinking about trust in a new way — in a way that’s beneficial to you.

As I’m sure you know, after receiving a cancer diagnosis, or any other major life changing news, there are so many different directions you can go with that information.  Spin out of control.  Go into a deep depression.  Become angry at the world.  It’s endless!  I will tell you this:  If I had it to do all over again, I would choose the path of trust again.  And again.  And again.

To go through something of that magnitude with no worry, with full acceptance, knowing that I was never alone, well, it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.  Bottom-line, it’s what worked for me, my sanity, and the sanity of my family, especially my children.  And I believe it was at the crux of my healing.

This was a *big* topic today.  Due to its big-ness, please feel free to drop me an email ( with any thoughts or questions.  I have also broken this post down in smaller chunks so you can digest a little at a time.  Click here to access.

I LOVE, love, love this topic, how it’s changed my life, and brought peace I didn’t know was possible.  I wish the same for you.

In love and trust,

Human Touch

Does It Hurt?

I get asked all the time, “Does it hurt?”  I typically respond, “No,” not knowing specifically what it they’re talking about — and also knowing it really doesn’t matter.  I mean, hasn’t everyone heard breast cancer doesn’t hurt?  And besides, I don’t hurt.  I feel a certain amount of discomfort, sure, it’s been less than three weeks since my double mastectomy, so discomfort after any surgery that invasive is normal, but hurt, I can honestly say: No.  True physical pain has only occurred twice since this whole process started.

The First Pain, Accompanied by Human Touch

The first time I felt true physical pain was during the initial biopsy, before I was officially diagnosed.  I tell you this not to scare you — let me be very clear:  my particular biopsy issue should NOT happen to you.  I just happen to be one of the very rare people who is allergic to pretty much every ‘caine’ out there: lidocaine, carbocaine, novacaine.   These are the drugs which are commonly used as numbing agents in a needle biopsy.  So, please don’t worry that you will experience the same thing.  From what I understand, you won’t feel a thing.

Anyway, I did feel a thing.  I felt lots of things, and I can definitely tell you that what I felt I would classify as pain — close to unbearable actually…until a nurse named Stacy put her hand on my shoulder.  The simple act of her touch, her hand delicately placed on my shoulder while the biopsy was taking place was better than any local anesthetic.  The tears that were initially streaming down my face as tears of agony became tears of gratitude.  Up until that moment, I had no idea how another’s touch could impact me so profoundly.

Bless you, nurse Stacy.

The Second Pain, Also Accompanied by Human Touch

Fast forward to the day of the surgery.  As part of the prep for the actual procedure, for the specific type of cancer I had, it was necessary to find what is called the Sentinel Node.  I won’t get into the particulars about it, but I will say that in order to find the node, each nipple was given four separate injections of radiation — while I was still awake.  After the first four injections I wasn’t sure how I would endure the other side without passing out, literally.  Then a nurse came and stood beside me.  As the radiologist started on the other side, the nurse gave me something to bite down on, and began to stroke my forehead with her cool fingertips, stopping at my temple, applying slight pressure, then repeating.  If I said the difference was like night and day, it would be a gross understatement.

What is it about human touch?  We use it to soothe crying babies.  We stroke someone’s hand in times of pain.  We stroke someone’s hand in times of love.  We do it so instinctively, we teach our children to do the same.  I remember my older son standing beside my hospital bed, unable to hug me, so instead he caressed my cheek with the back-side of his four fingers.  Fingers which were not yet those of a teenager, yet also not the fingers of a little boy.  He didn’t say a word.  He didn’t need to.  He simply stroked my cheek, over and over, as my throat swelled with emotion and my heart swelled with joy, with overflowing love.

Words aren’t necessary to convey love.  During the biopsy, during the radiation/node procedure, during the special time post op with my son, love was transferred each and every time, and no words were necessary.  That’s how powerful human touch is.

Take hugging.  Hugging is an act that we do on a regular basis.  However, we often treat embracing another as more of a deed or a ‘supposed to do’, rather than an expression of love.  Next time you hug someone, really feel the other person.  Allow them to feel you.  Exchange love through your human touch.

Human Touch, Mark Nepo

“Touch bleeds the heart of its pressure.”

~ Mark Nepo

Ironically, this quote by Mark Nepo, from his book The Book of Awakening was included in his July 15th essay, the SAME DAY I received my cancer diagnosis.  It was *this* quote that snapped my memory back to the recollection of how I felt when nurse Stacy placed her hand on my shoulder, thus resulting in the writing and sharing of today’s article.

Thank you, Mr. Nepo, for the beautiful reminder.