You know those moments when you tell yourself, “I just gotta trust the universe.” Whether it’s because things in your life feel chaotic or just plain overwhelming, sometimes you just know you need to surrender and learn to trust that things will work out.

Trust really is a practice, an art — especially in those moments when it feels like you’re working hard and things just aren’t happening. In the wellness world, we put so much emphasis on the importance of letting go, relinquishing the need to control and learning to trust that things will simply be taken care of. A job will appear, along with a dream partner and loads of money.

Sound familiar? Well, trusting the universe requires patience. But are you trying to cultivate patience, and still finding that you’re not realizing any results? If so, here are five essential things you need to know when you are trying to trust the universe:

1. Recognize the universe is in you.

Our strongest, most powerful connection to all the stars, the cosmos and everything else around us that can guide us, is actually within us. So often, when we get caught up in thinking that we need to “trust the universe,” we somehow think some external force is going to swoop into our lives and save us from all the challenges we are experiencing.

In other words: we automatically position ourselves as dependent, weak and disempowered in relation to some elevated idea of “the universe.” This mode of trusting the universe is based in fantasy: we act like Rapunzel, stuck in a tower with all that long hair, waiting for the prince to come and save her. But in reality, Rapunzel could have just tied the ends of her hair to the window frame and climbed down herself.


2. We have to let go of what is preventing us from stepping up.

When we’re caught up in the “I just gotta trust the universe” frame of mind, we can focus too much on the practice of “letting go” in the abstract. But actually, trusting the universe isn’t just about hoping to be saved. It’s about being practical, about approaching our fears head on and learning what specific limiting beliefs we have that we need to let go of. Too often we hang onto ways we can continue to hide, ways we can avoid stepping up.

I hung on for dear life to beliefs about my inability to earn good money. That is, until the day I explored all of those beliefs as fears rather than truths. From there, I realized that one of the main reasons I was hanging onto this false idea was because I was especially afraid of what I might need to take responsibility for if I owned my infinite capacity to make money and have the life I wanted. I’d have to take responsibility for my finances, for my future, for every time I claimed, “I can’t afford that.” No more excuses.

Luckily, when the desire for change is larger than the desire to stay in our comfort zone, big things can happen. And they did for me. I still have my moments where I dip-dive into doubt about the future. But I now know that I’ve got what it takes to handle that doubt, and I’ve got the skills to keep creating the future I envision.


3. The universe will serve you, not (necessarily) please you.

Sometimes I fantasize about magically receiving a check for a million dollars. It seems like a wonderful fantasy until I ask myself if that would actually serve me … Would receiving that amount of money, without working for it it, really enable me to step into my power with an innate and infallible confidence in my own abilities? Probably not.

Sure, it would really please me to get a bunch of free money. It would really please me to think that I never had to worry about money ever again.

But it wouldn’t serve me. What serves me is to know that I can do things on my own. It serves me to know that I am determined to succeed, facing every fear and limiting belief in my life with the universe at my back. I can get out of this darn tower myself, thank you very much.


4. Sometimes, NOT getting what you want is a gift.

Not getting what we want can be the greatest gift. This is especially true if what we thought we wanted was the easy way out. I know this first-hand, as I had a long-standing love affair with wanting the easy way out, with hoping someone or something else would take care of everything for me. And often, to be honest, they did.

But this dynamic was unproductive. Even without stepping up to the plate, I still found myself stressed, anxious and uncertain. Depending on other people to take care of it for me left me dependent and weak, with no trust in my own innate abilities, talents and strengths.

Then one day I decided it was time to really step up, to do what it took to create the life I was dreaming of. And the universe promptly handed me a challenging new neighbor, a boss with temper tantrums and regular contact with a woman whose default mode was to criticize. I wanted to know that everything was OK, that everything would be taken care of, that I was taken care of. And so life said: Great! I’ve been waiting for you to say that! Now you get to learn how to take care of yourself by facing these challenging people.

And from that point forward, I learned to trust that everything will always be OK.


5. Everything comes back to the fierce power of love.

To sum it all up: The best way to trust the universe is to learn to trust yourself. Rather than just indiscriminately repeating the mantra “let go,” get curious about what specifically is preventing you from stepping up. And then let go of that specific thought, belief, assumption or whatever it is. Know that the universe is loving you by serving you, even if that doesn’t please you. Sometimes, not getting what we want is even better.

Love. It all comes back to love — in the fiercest way possible.