The other way we work is being process-oriented. A process orientation involves more than looking for results - it's looking at what's going on between the two people in the room, in terms of how they're relating to each other, and how this relating reflects what's going on outside the therapy room for the client. It also means paying more attention to the deeper meaning of what clients say, and how their words reflect their emotions and experiences, as well as their growth.
Process is even more than that, though. Process is the flow of life that runs through us and with us and by us. How we react to life often reflects the process we're experiencing. Trusting the process means letting go of the illusion of control that's keeping us from growing and trusting that our process - our lives - will eventually be ok.
Letting go in this way is a scary thing to do. It's something I learn and re-learn every day, and have to consciously practice - trusting the process is an active trust kind of thing for me.
I have several "mantras" I use to remind me to trust the process. One of my favorites is, "It is what it is." I usually follow that up with a question that gets at the heart of the issue: "Now, how do you want to deal with it?" or "What are my options?"
There are several situations where I'm currently using this process...and none of them are easy. I'm finding for me, though, that letting go and trusting the process at the very least brings me some peace of mind. I take care of what I need to take care of, and the rest will be what it will be.
To me, one key to being able to trust the process is using one of my DBT skills: Radical Acceptance. The basic idea is that you realize that you first have to see what reality IS rather than what you want it to be, and then next, work on accepting that this reality exists. It's a tough process - but once you're there, you're better able to deal with what is, and won't get caught up on what should be, or what's not fair. Radical acceptance is key to learning to trust the process, because you can't begin to see the process until you accept the reality you're facing. It's that simple.
Another key piece is letting go. For me, this also takes conscious thought and action - I ask myself, "Ok, how important is this really? Am I going to be worrying about this, or be angry at this 10 years from now?" If the answer is no, it's probably a good thing for me to let go of. And I again struggle with this a lot - and am learning that the process is again, worth it.
So, trusting the process means first accepting reality for what it is, and then letting go of our expectations of what's fair or what "should be." What next?
Here's where it gets a little less behavioral...one of the things that DBT emphasizes is mindfulness, and I believe that mindfulness is another important key to trusting the process. Once we've accepted and have started letting go, mindfulness (being aware with compassionate nonjudgment) will allow us to be open to the possibilities and opportunities that DO exist. Mindfulness also allows us to be aware of what's going on around us, what triggers us, and what our choices are - it's an incredible tool for increasing awareness and connection, if we choose to use it that way - it's how we see the process part that's going on here.
The final key in trusting the process is simply, trust. Many have us have learned, and learned well that we can't trust anyone. Life has let us be hurt or injured maybe even by people who were supposed to love and protect us. Other people take advantage of us, or make fun of us, or generally make the world an unpleasant place in which to live. And here I'm telling you to trust. Yeah, right....
Here's where you use active trust (see earlier post). If you've learned to trust no one or anything, it may be time to try and see if the time is right to experiment a little with trust. To trust the process though, at some point, you have to take that leap and just let go and trust. Something, someone, sometime...Use your active trust if it helps, and realize that it's likely going to be worth the effort.
Trust the process - and see where life takes you. Even if you trust no other process than the fact that the sun will rise the next day, it's a start - and a good one. You may find yourself going in a direction you'd never considered, or meeting people you'd never have known otherwise. Let go, let yourself have an adventure...and trust the process.
Please Note: The content on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. This is not therapy, and if you wish to work in therapy, please contact your local mental health agency or your physician for a referral.
If you are in crisis or danger, please call 911 for immediate help. Please, again, realize that seeking out help really IS a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. You don’t have to be alone in facing these things – there are people who care and who will help. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.