The Soul's Agenda: Learning to Trust Ourselves and Life Itself

Our Soul's Agenda

We waste a lot of energy wondering who we can trust, what we can trust them with, and recovering from being betrayed. But you are the person you really need to trust. You can trust everyone if you can trust yourself.

We lack self-trust because of the countless times we sold ourselves out, abandoned ourselves, ignored our intuition, refused to take appropriate action, forfeited our power. So, lacking self-trust, we are left to the hopeless device of trying to make everyone and everything conform to our need to feel safe.

What are the things we need to be able to trust ourselves? We must each know that we will courageously and creatively understand and take the action required for our growth and wholeness. We must feel that we can be trusted to truthfully see our underlying agendas. We need to know we can count on ourselves to intuit whether or not a situation is healthy for us. Having perhaps chosen poorly, can we trust ourselves to change a situation? Can we trust ourselves to give up limiting patterns or addictions? To delve for the truth about our participation in recurrent negative scenarios? To live by values that bring growth and joy?

Learning to Let Go and Trust Myself

During my time in a remote cabin in Alaska, I realized that if I could trust myself, then trusting others would be easy; I would be free to see who people really are, instead of what I needed them to be.

At the time, there was one person I was very mistrustful of. He had betrayed me in a horrible fashion. But when I examined the matter honestly, I saw that I had been given many warnings about how he was; I just didn't want to believe them. In truth, I could trust him to continue being how he was. But I could not trust myself to see the truth of a situation and take the right action for myself.

I stopped fearing and obsessing about what he had done to me and began to seek what I needed to know and do to change my situation. This is the crux of the matter. People will be who they are. We can count on it. They will always be acting out their fears, limitations, hopes, and dreams. If we trust our own judgment, choices, healing ability, and self-honesty, we become free of the need to make others "behave" so we can feel safe.

In the silence of the cabin, I came to know something even more valuable about trust. I was asking the question "What can I trust?" when I heard, in reply, this from my soul: "You can trust that your life is on course, that you are exactly where you should be, in every moment and situation."

I realized then my life was not a series of accidents; it was managed by my soul with great purpose. Coming to know that deeply, I understood that I could trust the Source of my life, in all things.

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Soul Talking Story

The man had been hounding me for weeks. After my heart attack, I was forced to change my diet. Now, at restaurants, at parties, at the movies, there are many things I can no longer eat. There are many times I have to make special requests for the dressing oil to be put on the side, not on the salad, for the butter to be left out of a recipe. I have to inquire about ingredients and take great care.

By some quirky coincidence, this man was often there, listening. He is behind me at the movie concession, at the next table in the restaurant, or at the community potluck. Each time he rolls his eyes and makes a rude comment. He grows more and more bold in this, until it becomes quite annoying. Naturally, I wonder what difference it makes to him if I eat butter or not. Is it any of his business?

One evening at a party, the dessert tray goes around the room, and I pass it on without sampling. Who do I turn to as I pass the tray? My constant critic! He speaks in his booming voice, filling the room. "Yeah! She won't have any. She won't have this, she won't have that," he says in a punitive singsong. "She might as well not eat at all." It was one of those moments when all conversation stops in a room and everyone turns to see what is going on.

I have a look on my face that my friends recognize: an eyebrow raised, my eyes narrowed somewhat, my mouth forming a slight smile. It is a look that says, "Enough! Now I'm going to put an end to this."

My friends are thinking, "What fun! She's going to put him in his place; she'll cut him off at the knees."

And in fact I lean in with just the little turn of phrase to do the trick, to shut him up for good. After all, I've known him for years, we all have, and he is no favorite in the little town.

I take a half step forward and draw a breath to deliver my well-timed, clever little remark, when something rather unusual happens. Time suspends, the moment extends, no words come out of my mouth; his face swims in front of me. And there, from his face, is the depth of his soul shining out at me. It is a wondrous soul, breathtaking in its beauty. And that lovely soul reveals this man to me.

I seem to have stepped inside of him. I know his life, the weight of his pain, the extent of his despair, his unrelenting loneliness and unworthiness. I feel his tired, beaten down body, heavy and numb with its pointless posture. And I feel the grandeur of the soul that loves and guides him. I see my own blessed life; I see my harsh judgment of him and its effects on us both. It is a long moment as I stare, transfixed, at his face, with everyone in the room staring at me. No one breathes, it seems.

Then a gush of wind fills my lungs and I speak: "I have wondered why it matters to you what I eat. I don't know the answer. But standing here in confrontation with you, what I am really struck with is my own deep despair that we cannot, as humans, see eye to eye about such a small matter. In my heart I ache to have a greater peace. But I don't know how. How can we ever end the continual wars on our planet if such inconsequential things keep us from it every day? That's what I am feeling," I say.

The platter passes along, people shift positions, small talk begins to fill the space, and the party goes on. But a week later the man makes a beeline for me at the drugstore; I feel uneasy as he approaches, but he surprises me when he speaks.

"I want to apologize for what I said the other night." He shuffles self-consciously in the aisle. The words are foreign to his rough voice. "I had to wonder, too, why I cared what you ate. And I remembered that mealtimes when I was a kid ... well, they were hell. Pure hell. The ol' man came down on us for everything. One wrong move then -- watch out! Funny, it's the first time I've thought about any of that in many years."

And this man begins to reveal his story to me. It is the story you might imagine, a story of abuse and fear and pain. The pain still fills every pore of his body, which is worn with carrying it.

As I listen, I hear also his hopes and dreams, some of them still alive. I find there, too, his passion for his work and the love he feels for his son.

He talks; I hear the soul "talking story." I hear a human story and I know what it is to be a human being.

Seeing The Soul Of Another

Each time we hear a human story, we learn more about what it is to be a human being, having a human life here on this planet. This is one of the ways in which we discover our humanity.

It is important to honor one another's stories when possible, for we each inhabit an individual universe. And within that universe we are always in relationship with ourselves. Even when apparently interacting with others, we are really in relationship to ourselves. Because of this, when we hear or observe another person, we will misunderstand much of what we see and hear: Because the experience is filtered through our own perspectives, beliefs, experiences, and needs.

Some studies suggest that less than half of what we "see" is based on information entering our eyes. The remainder -- the majority -- of our sight perception is the piecework of our expectations and context.

That is why, when a friend gets new glasses or shaves his beard, we often do not notice. We are so accustomed to relating to them within the frame of our usual context, that we don't see what is actually there. We filter it out so that our context remains unaltered.

There is evidence that suggests that the percentages regarding what we hear are even lower. As you are listening to others at work, home, or at the grocery store, remind yourself that the chance that you will actually grasp their full meaning, let alone their reality, is quite small.

Relating to Another's Soul

To most accurately and fully relate to another, we must relate to their soul or we will only be in relationship to our own context. Gracie taught me this fifteen years ago. Gracie was in her seventies when I first knew her. She lived in a charming old log cabin next to my art gallery. In fact, my gallery occupied property that was once part of the "stake" she and her husband Niles had settled in their early days in Alaska.

Over the years, the city grew up around them, until Gracie's log cabin was the odd note in a jumble of bustling commercial properties. Niles had died a few years earlier, and I used to keep company with Gracie from time to time and share stories.

She told me that one of Niles's dreams as a young man was to travel around the world for a year. When he married and children began to arrive, that dream got tabled, but the longing stayed. Gracie told me she was acutely aware of this and finally told Niles he had to "go off on that trip, children or no." And she sent him packing for a year. She said she didn't want him having that kind of regret when he was old; she knew "it was something very important to his soul."

Gracie tells it that she was unhappy about being left behind with four children but soon stopped moping about and feeling sorry and wondered what the change allowed her to do. She discovered a dream of her own. She had always wanted to spend time in Hawaii, so she "up and left with those four kids to bide my time in paradise. There wasn't much money," she said, "but you don't need much if you're in paradise."

Nine months into his trip, Niles called from someplace foreign and said he was satisfied that he'd seen what he wanted to of the world. He was coming home -- which was good because Gracie was tired of paradise by then.

It delighted me to hear that Gracie listened to the soul longing of Niles instead of imposing her fears and needs on him by tying him to his obvious responsibilities. She didn't ignore his deep desire in favor of her own security. And she listened to the voice of her own dream and created the perfect situation for herself as well.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. ©2001.

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The Architecture of All Abundance: Seven Foundations to Prosperity
by Lenedra J. Carroll.

The Architecture of Abundance by Lenedra J. CarrollWinner of NAPRA’s 2001 Nautilus award for excellence, Architecture of All Abundance is a beautifully written spiritual memoir tracing the path of Lenedra Carroll, mother and manager of popular singer and writer Jewel. Navigating the shark-infested waters of the entertainment industry, recovering from life threatening health problems, and rebounding from business failure, the author has pioneered innovative principles for building success in the material world. The book weaves together stories from her childhood with stories about running an ethical business.

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Lenedra J. Carroll

Lenedra J. Carroll is an artist, poet, author, entrepreneur, singer, and philanthropist. She also manages the career of her daughter, singer/songwriter Jewel. Visit Lenedra's website at For information on Higher Ground for Humanity and the Clearwater Project, organizations founded by Lenedra and her daughter Jewel, visit and


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