Trust the process is a phrase that originated from the NBA Philadelphia 76ers general manager, Sam Hinkie, during the 2013 professional basketball season.

It eventually became the team’s culture, a mantra, a Twitter hashtag, part of the colloquial lexicon, and a lifestyle that is itself a process.

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What does it mean to trust the process?

Trusting in the process means believing in your own capabilities and efforts to see you through anything you put your mind to as well as having inner strength and faith through life’s ups and downs.

It’s also surrendering to a higher power, letting go of control, and having faith that everything will fall into place.

Let’s explore why it’s important to trust the process and how to apply it to your own life.

Why is it important to trust in the process?

“Trust the process. You may not end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you are meant to be.”

When you don’t trust the process, you:

  • might bypass opportunities
  • may miss out on a chance of a lifetime
  • can become too focused on a particular outcome
  • can overlook small but important details
  • could veer from your values

Trusting in the process can be hard because we like feeling comfortable, secure, and in control.

However, when you stop to think about it, you don’t really have control of anything.

This can be scary to think about, but it can also be liberating.

If you’re more trusting of the process, it can teach you to:

  • embrace imperfection
  • overcome fear
  • become more aware
  • be more purpose-driven
  • have more self-acceptance
  • be more authentic
  • become more connected

Embracing imperfection.

Trusting in the process means embracing imperfection. This means accepting your mistakes & failures the way you would your wins & accomplishments.

Adopting a mindset that doesn’t embrace perfection is easier said than done because we see perfection as good, and imperfection as bad.

If you continue to strive for perfection, though, you can impede yourself by:

  • overthinking things
  • not starting something because you’re afraid
  • not accepting yourself because you’re not good enough
  • not trying at all because it’s better than failing or making mistakes

When you embrace imperfection, you’re not letting your fears get the best of you and are more likely to:

  • take action
  • reach your goals
  • trust in yourself to make mistakes and learn from them
  • become more productive because you’re not letting your fears get in the way.

Overcoming fear.

When you’re afraid, you can become less trusting in general and thus create doubt in yourself and in the process.

Fear is meant to protect you from danger, like running away from an angry dog. It can also impede you, like imagining you’re going to fail even if you did your best to prepare.

The great news is, it’s okay to be afraid.

When you acknowledge your fears and face them, you can start to overcome them because trusting in the process and overcoming fear go hand.

Becoming more aware.

When you’re less trusting, you can become less aware of your surroundings and what you’re doing because you’re too focused on a particular outcome.

You run the risk of putting on what I call “blinders”.

When my blinders are on, I tend to become too laser-focused on getting things done a certain way.

Just the other day, I was so focused on getting a task done at a particular time that I missed one small but important detail.

If I had trusted myself enough to slow down a bit, I would have been able to notice that small but significant detail.

Being purpose-driven.

When you have a purpose in life, you can become more resilient because you are able to deal with stressful situations more productively.

You build confidence and inner strength over time because you are more trusting of your capabilities.

You are also able to bounce back quicker from adversity and challenges.

Self-acceptance.

When you trust in the process and practice it more often in daily life, you develop a greater sense of self-worth and self-acceptance.

When you are more accepting of yourself, you can start to live a life that feels more authentic to who you truly are.

More connection.

Making connections can help you develop more trust in yourself and others.

When you build connections with others, you strengthen your trust.

You also build compassion and love for yourself and others, which can create a perpetual cycle of connection and trust.

What happens when you don’t trust the process?

When you don’t trust the process, you can feel lost, overwhelmed, apathetic, unsure, insecure, and disconnected.

I wasn’t always trusting of the process.  After I had my third child, I experienced undiagnosed postpartum depression and couldn’t make myself trust in the process to save my life.

My turning point was when I actually faced a surgical procedure that would save my life and restore my faith in the process and in myself.

When you don’t trust the process, you:

  • can feel scared & overwhelmed
  • can feel disconnected
  • may feel a need to be in control
  • can’t focus or be present
  • can lose faith in yourself & others

Years before I had my first surgical procedure, I remember shifting from feeling satisfied with my life to developing anxiety, disconnection, and a general mistrust of everything.

My main focus in life was my family and my dental hygiene career. I was happy and fulfilled for a long time, and then I wasn’t.

I didn’t realize my trust in myself and in the process slowly eroded over time. One of the things that contributed to this was reaching what Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap”, describes as the “Upper Limit”.

When you reach your upper limit, you’re not learning anything new and start to lose faith in your capabilities.  

Rather than admitting to myself that there was something wrong, I just kept on going.

I was going through the motions and living my life on autopilot. My body was trying to tell me there was something wrong but I didn’t listen.

Hendricks said that if you don’t heed the signals your body is giving you, whether it be emotional, mental, or physical, your body will find a way to make you listen.

And my body did, to the point that I needed surgery.

Right before I was my surgical procedure began, I remember thinking, “Well God, it’s all in your hands now.”

I had to put all my trust and faith in a higher power and allow myself to let go of all my fears and doubts.

It wasn’t easy, but I remember afterward feeling a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, followed by a wave of calm and relaxation.

Going through my challenges helped restore my faith in myself, my abilities, and in life itself. It helped me reassess my life and find what truly gave it meaning.

What happens when you trust in the process?

When you trust in the process, you overcome your fears, are more likely to take action, allow yourself to make mistakes, and become more accepting of yourself.

Trusting in the process is not pretending that you’re fearless or that nothing can make you feel bad ever again.

Rather, it’s about:

  • Becoming more focused and clear.
  • Having more direction and purpose in life.
  • Developing a growth mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.
  • Becoming more confident in your abilities.
  • Having faith that whatever you put your mind to will come to fruition.
  • Learning from failures and mistakes instead of focusing on them.
  • Being less judgemental and critical of yourself and others.
  • Learning how to manage your negative emotions and thoughts instead of allowing them to get the best of you.

Trusting in the process can be easier said than done, however. Especially if you like to feel in control as I did.  

This is why I’m going to share with you the tips I learned to help me trust in the process so that you can use them to restore your faith in yourself and in life, too.

How to learn to trust the process.

Learning to trust in the process is to love yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes, believe in yourself, and ask for help from others when you need it.

Give yourself some love

Giving yourself love each day can help you build trust in yourself and in the process.

One of the hardest lessons I learned about trusting in the process is to learn how to love myself.

I remember when I used to hesitate to do something just for myself because I would feel undeserving if I did.

For example, if I wanted to treat myself to something nice, like a mani-pedi, or even something small, like exercising for 30 minutes, I would feel guilty about indulging myself.

It took me years to realize that it came from a lack of self-love and that it wasn’t entirely my fault.

If you’re like me, you might have learned:

  • not to outshine your siblings or friends
  • you don’t want other people to be jealous of you
  • that life is supposed to be a certain way
  • to reach your upper limit and that was it
  • you can’t change what’s broken
  • you’re can’t learn anything new
  • to be scared of change
  • mistakes & failures are bad
  • you’re not capable enough
  • you’re not worthy enough
  • you’re not good enough
  • you’re going to be ostracized by others if you follow your heart
  • your family, friends, or peers might leave you if you change

Learning to love yourself can help you build self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-love, and trust in the process.

Allow

Negative emotions and thoughts can create a cycle of mistrust.

Instead of pushing intrusive thoughts and emotions away, allow them to come to the surface.

You don’t have to express your emotions if they come up at an inconvenient time.

You can wait until you’re in a safe space to do so. If your thoughts and emotions become too difficult to handle, you can always ask someone for help.

This can be someone you trust, like a family member or friend, or a professional, like a therapist.

It’s hard to allow negative emotions and thoughts to come to the surface but it can also be liberating and cathartic.

Breathe

Trusting in the process can be a breath away.

When your thoughts and emotions are overwhelming, it can be hard to trust in the process.

I remember watching a YouTube video about using your breath to bring you back to the present moment, from the late zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh.

I didn’t understand what he meant by it when I first started practicing mindfulness.

It wasn’t until years of practice that I realized how powerful deep breathing can be.

If you’re having uncomfortable or overwhelming emotions & thoughts, deep breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

This can help trigger the relaxation response, which brings you back to the present moment.

Using deep breathing to help you refocus and recenter takes practice.

With time, you’ll notice how powerful this simple technique can be to restore your inner peace and trust in the process.

Check-in

If you’re having trouble trusting in the process, try checking in with your feelings and thoughts.

When my father passed away, I remember feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Everyone around me was feeling the same way, so I wasn’t even aware of it until my husband came to bring me and my kids back home.

When he arrived, I was so happy and relieved to see him that I suddenly realized how I was really feeling.

If you know something doesn’t feel right but you can’t explain it, try checking in with yourself by changing your environment.

Sometimes you have to physically remove yourself from your immediate surroundings to check-in with your feelings.

If you can find a quiet place, wherever that may be, take a few minutes to ask yourself what you are feeling and then sit with it.

Sometimes, simply becoming aware of your feelings & thoughts can help you build your trust again.

Connect with others.

Connecting with other people can be a starting point for trusting in the process.

You might already have people in your life who are trustworthy and supportive of you. If you don’t, you can find people you can build trust and relationships with.

It takes courage and patience to create mutual trust, but you have to take the first step if you want to start connecting with & trusting others.

The first step you can take is to simply introduce yourself to someone. If you like them, you can continue to build your relationship.

Over time, you will learn how to build trust in yourself and others.

Don’t focus on the outcome.

When you’re building trust in the process, try not to be too attached or focused on the outcome.

If you’re too focused on a particular outcome, you run the risk of missing out on opportunities for learning and growth.

Focusing on the process instead of the outcome can help you build trust in yourself and in the world around you.

You will also learn those important life lessons and apply them as you go through the process of life.

The road to trust is not easy and you can spend your entire life doing it. The difference is, now you have some tools at your disposal to help you build your trust.

If you want more tools to help you trust in the process, be sure to check out these helpful articles to help you embrace imperfection, overcome your fears, and boost your confidence & self-esteem.

Fear in times of uncertainty and doubt and how to overcome it.

7 ways to embrace imperfection.

6 powerful ways to boost your confidence.

How to raise your self-esteem and why it’s important.