How to Overcome Challenges with Self-Trust
Life challenges. We all have them and move through them. But how? By leaning into the power of self-trust.
"Would you rather work on learning these few measures on your own or would you prefer my help during your lesson?" I asked.
Hazel's eyes before me grew wide with nervous energy. "With you, please. These measures look challenging."
Following her cue, we proceeded to work out the remaining few measures of a song she had been learning. The passage contained a tricky transition between two chords in the right hand to be played in conjunction with a moving baseline in the left hand. We discussed and analyzed the measures together. As we did so, she discovered that the scary-looking chords were chords she was already familiar with and that she had played the left-hand line earlier in the piece. We practice the measures together during her lesson, first hands separately, and then hands together.
After rehearsing the passage several times, I asked her "How do you feel about these measures now?"
" With some more practice, I can get them."
" Sometimes things aren't as scary as they look, are they?"
" Nope. Not at all!"
As I said those words, I flashed back to the days surrounding my third child’s birth.
Two months before, a friend gave birth to a child that developed complications requiring a week-long stay at the hospital. At the time I marveled how she had been able to navigate this challenge, knowing that if I ever had to face the same thing, I would crumble under the pressure of it all.
Then, at two days of life, my son was diagnosed with several congenital heart defects. I was told he would definitely need surgery to correct the anomalies, but they were hoping to put it off for a few months. He remained in the hospital for the next few days so the doctors could closely watch him.
By his sixth day of life, it became clear he needed surgery as soon as possible. Thirteen hours later, I placed my precious son down on an infant bed and watched him roll away from me down the hallway to endure open-heart surgery.
Knowing he was in capable hands, I still feared he could become a statistic.
During the four days between his diagnosis and surgery, I tried to imagine how I would handle the long eight-hour surgery wait and seeing my son full of tubes and surgical wounds post-surgery.
To be honest it wasn't easy. I was 100% scared (and cried a lot) and yet - it was manageable. I survived.
"Sometimes things aren't as scary as they look."
The same experience has repeated itself in my life multiple times to different intensities since then- before my daughter's brain surgery, during my 2nd-trimester miscarriage, before my divorce, before a job interview, when navigating various mini-crises, or before a long solo road. In each of these cases, equal to my fear of a poor outcome, was the fear of my inability to withstand the emotional toll of any outcome.
Essentially, I imagined the worst-case scenario and judged myself incapable of enduring whatever came.
I wish I could honestly say that in all those moments I knew how to lean into self-trust. But I didn’t. I hadn’t yet gained all the skills to trust in myself, remain in the present moment, give myself permission to feel my emotions and do the next thing required of me. I did the best I could at the time with the resources I had, often burying myself in busyness to numb the emotions and distract my mind. Despite that, each challenge taught me that I can survive tough things, even when it feels impossible. Now I have a history of overcoming which increases my level of self-trust to rise above the next one but with greater resources.
I am not saying we need to reduce our level of fear, trepidation, or nerves going into any of these situations. All of those feelings are natural, normal, and to be expected!
I am saying that perhaps we are up for the task more than we think we are.
Perhaps I should amend the statement to this.
"Sometimes things aren't as scary as they look because we are wildly more capable than we think and stronger than we know.”
This is what Hazel realized today. She discovered, through my prompting, that she already knew how to learn the notes on the page. She realized that she could trust herself to see a challenging situation, take a breath, ground herself, rely on her knowledge and skill set, and get to work on the task at hand.
Food for Thought:
What is one way you can lean into self-trust the next time you face a challenge of any kind?
Envision what it would feel like to live in the balance between healthy fear and self-trust when facing challenges. How would that change your perspective and mental fortitude when preparing for or walking through hard times?
Try it out! I think, no matter the circumstance, we can find greater grounding before, during, and after challenging times when we tap into self-trust while breathing into the present instead of giving way to fear of the future.
If you want to flex your confidence muscle through the challenge of learning to play the piano, it would be my delight to bring the joy of music into your heart and home through remote piano lessons.
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3. Take your first lesson!
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