Exclusive book excerpt: David Richo

According to one of the leading psychotherapists and spiritual authors in the United States, trust is a four-fold path

Adapted from, Daring to Trust: Opening ourselves to Real Love and Intimacy, By DAVID RICHO — A compass is a trusty tool for a journey, and we can see the four directions that trust can take using the symbol of a compass. Draw a diagram to see for yourself.

Place the words “I TRUST” in the center with a circle around it.

In the East position write: “MYSELF”

In the West position, pencil in: “OTHERS”

South: “REALITY,” or “WHATEVER HAPPENS”  — or “HOW LIFE UNFOLDS.”

And finally, due North: Use whatever word that for you represents, “GOD” or a “HIGHER POWER.”

Chart your trust

Draw arrows from the center of the circle to each of the four points on the compass.

Notice the combination: A horizontal plane for people, and a vertical plane for powers that transcend our control. Draw curves around the face of the compass from north to east to south to west, and back to north.

It’s an illustration of how all the resources of trust connect and aid one another.

Now think of your most recent concern or problem — or how you handle things ordinarily. You can examine how you trust in each of the four directions when it comes to handling this, or any issue.

Through my work as a psychotherapist who has counselled thousands of patients over a lifetime — and research that has produced 14 books — I have developed a set of questions designed to gauge these axes of trust in your life.

Let each of your responses start you on a train of thought and feeling that can show you how to trust more fully and more effectively in each of the four resources. See them as allies in your dealing with your present, or any predicament.

An ally is anyone or anything that aids me in evolving, that wants or urges me to succeed, that coaches me toward my best good, that supports my self-discovery, that is my assisting force.

The first of these four dimensions is about self-trust, which is another way of saying freedom from fear.

Ask yourself:

How much do I trust myself?

1. What resources do you find in your body-mind, and how can you use them more?

2. How well can you rely on yourself to take action when you face a challenge?

3. What qualities, skills, and virtues do you trust in yourself?

4. What commitment will you make to stay with this issue by first pausing to contemplate it — and when you are ready, to address it so that it can be resolved?

The next dimension of trust relates to the level of trust in your relationships with those around you.

Next, how much do I trust others?

1. Asking for help is a way of learning to trust. What kind of support will you ask from your partner or closest friend?

2. What will you tell your family or friends so that they can be of help to you?

3. If people do not come through for you, what plan do you have to handle that disappointment?

4. If you fear or are embarrassed about asking for help, can you work on that by admitting your fear to yourself? If possible, fee. your fear fully, and sidestep being driven or stopped by the fear.

The third direction in your compass of trust is a dynamic I call, “core trust.”

What is “core” trust?

A trinity of questions to ask yourself:

How can you say yes unconditionally to what is happening so that you can gain the serenity to accept what cannot be changed?

How can you say yes unconditionally to what is happening so that you can gain the courage to change what can be changed?

How can you say yes unconditionally to your inner wisdom so that you can tell the difference between what can and cannot be changed?

Make a commitment to keep looking for what helps you trust that the universe keeps providing opportunities for practice, that this problem can further your evolution, that from it can come greater self-esteem and love for others.

The fourth quadrant in our matrix of trust is about your relationship to a higher power.

If appropriate to your belief system, use devotion and prayer to build your personal connection to God or to a higher power. Drop down into the deepest place in yourself where there is an infallible source of unconditional love, wisdom, and healing power — and then picture yourself bringing these three qualities to bear on the issue at hand. Imagine angels, saints, or Buddhas representing love, wisdom, and healing attending you now, and in every phase of the problem and its resolution. If these traditional images are not appropriate, use whatever works for you.

“Can I trust a higher power?”

Ask for the grace of trusting a higher power by using your own affirmations or by using the aspirations below. Regarding each of the four directions of trust use these affirmations:

May I grow in trust in myself by granting myself attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing.

May I grow in trust of others by asking for their support, appreciating their way of giving it, and not blame or punish them if they fail me.

May I grow in trust of my present predicament as a path to wholeness and higher spiritual consciousness by accepting my here and now situation with equanimity  — and with some sense of humor, too.

Quindio, Colombia: Photo by David Rickey

May I keep trusting graces from powers beyond my ego.

May I stay aware that they are everywhere and always with me.

May I feel how they guide, guard, comfort, and cheer me.

May I grow in steadfast faith that cosmic powers always and everywhere care about the evolution of all of us.

May I always be thankful for the graces that keep coming my way.

Now I am aware that the words, “I will fear no evil for thou art with me,” apply not only to a higher power.

They apply to all four of my trusty resources:

“I will fear no evil for I am with me.”

“I will fear no evil for others are with me.”

“I will fear no evil for the universe is with me.”

A litany of loving, trusting kindness

May what I go through in this crisis or concern be of help to all people everywhere who are suffering in the same way that I am. May whatever progress I make be of service to them, too.

May I trust that I will never lose my capacity to love no matter what happens to me, and may I always know that nothing is more important than that.

In this practice of recalling and joining with all people everywhere who suffer as we do, we no longer see our particular pain as unique to us. Our sense of comradeship leads to a “yes” to the given of universal suffering. This is what frees us from suffering as a victim rather than as a human among fellow humans.

We can also say that suffering is more than a given. It is a symptom of remaining caught in duality thinking — namely wanting something other than what’s going on at each moment, which is another way of saying not living in the now.

Buddha’s noble truths can perhaps be understood this way: Suffering happens in attachment to, or in avoidance, of the now. Once we let go into the moment, suffering becomes simply part of the experience of being alive.

David Richo is the author of 14 books, including How to Be an Adult in Relationships. A formerly-active Catholic priest who has made Buddhism his personal practice, he is also a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in individual and couples counselling. David’s newest book is Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love & Intimacy. His most recent workshop at California’s Esalen Institute was in June, 2011. His next appearance at the San Francisco Bay Area’s Spirit Rock Meditation Center will be Oct. 22, 2011.

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