Many people have been asking me recently for advice on how to have faith. Not the religious kind, but the faith in dealing with everyday challenges.
One client of mine is undergoing IVF. She devoted her time, energy, and vacation days from her high powered job so she could undergo the procedure. She and her husband really wanted it to work. After all that, she found out it was unsuccessful.
“The doctor says there is nothing wrong and that the chances that it will eventually work are in my favor,” she told me. “The thing is for now I am just so broken-hearted and disappointed. How am I supposed to keep going, when there’s no guarantee it will work?” she asked.
There was a philosopher named Epictetus who said “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” This brilliant advice came from someone who was born a slave in 55 AD, but later in life became an advisor to not just one, but two Roman emperors!! The desire to influence things beyond our will is what still tortures many of us. We wish we could control things: our bodies, our feelings, our thoughts, other people, even our sports teams winning! But in fact when we start to examine what we have control over we begin to see that we have much less than we thought. So where does that leave us?
“We don’t have control,” I told my client, “but we can shift to being willing to have things go well.” One of my favorite self-help gurus is Louise Hay. She offers the saying “I am open and receptive to all good.” What a beautiful intention. As soon as my client tried adopting a willingness to have things work out, and let go of her fears and insecurities, she felt at peace and more assured. She wasn’t giving up by stopping her worrying or feeling sad, she was just letting go. She was even more devoted to a good result, but without all the pressure she had been putting on herself. She looked to see the things she actually had some choice over and set to work exercising those. She decided she would do IVF again when she felt ready. She decided it was silly to think it was her fault. She was just going to intend things working out. Everything else was just a waste of her precious energy.
So much of the time we want a miracle, a change, an improvement. It’s when we release attachment to it that we start to have a different experience, which ends up creating a different result. I find that it’s easier to create from nothing than creating from fear, or from rules that feel constricting, or from what someone else tells us which at times can be a limiting thought. Some people call that faith. I say it is actually the process of creating, and it’s one of the most fulfilling ways I know to engage with life and get fabulous results.