I used to believe that it would help me to mentally rehearse all possible outcomes before taking action. I’m not referring to having a vision, a goal or a dream and using it to inspire your action. The mental rehearsal I’m referring to is more fear-based and has to do with trying to determine the result of a potential action before taking it. I thought mental rehearsal was wise, that it would help me to decide whether to make that particular choice and also be prepared for what might come as a result. I wouldn’t have seen it this way at the time, but mental rehearsing is a way of trying to control what happens by seeing myself as the unchangeable, immovable part of the equation and seeing that it is everything and everyone outside of me that needs to be managed, adapted or avoided to fit my desired outcome. It was a way of managing fear. Looking back, I realize that it was both a frustrating and exhausting way to live.
There are many ways I’ve been working on changing this part of myself over the past year or so. It’s still a work in progress, but at the bottom of it all is this one thing – learning to trust. It is in part why my experience skiing with poor visibility last week was something I wanted to write about. There was something about that experience where I needed to trust God for what was in front of me and also trust my own capacity. While those two things might seem like they are in conflict, I don’t believe they are. It is in part about trusting God – that He will give me everything I need at the moment I need it – but it goes beyond believing in something outside of myself. It is also in part about trusting on the inside – trusting who God made me be. It’s about trusting the capacity He’s given me, the life experiences, the training and the gifts. This does not mean I won’t fail or fall, but part of the trusting is trusting in my ability to cope if I do. There is something about not trusting myself and my capacity that implies not trusting the one who created me.
So, what does all this have to do with mental rehearsing? Mental rehearsal doesn’t do the work it promises to do. It doesn’t keep us safe. It doesn’t stop us from failing or accurately predict the future. It doesn’t control the outcome. It is exhausting and frustrating. I am working on letting it go. Instead, I’m leaning into trust – trusting in God and in my own ability. I’m working on being present, and learning to show up and just see what happens. I’m letting go of trying to control what happens next and focusing on relaxing enough to enjoy what is here now.
If you’re a planner with perfectionist leanings like me, this question is for you. Where in your life do you show up and just see what happens?