The Four Essential Trusts and How to Master Them

white rope

Trust the process of life because it is an incredible journey of wonder, adventure, and evolution that you can experience only in direct proportion to your willingness to trust it. – Iyanla Vazant

The Path to Awesomeness will teach us life’s greatest lesson – that falling in Love requires a leap of faith, knowing and trusting God will catch us.”

It’s the last line from the book description. And it’s kinda weird for me to reflect on the words I’ve written myself. It’s a reminder that the words faith, knowing, and trust always go together.

Can you have faith if you don’t trust? Can you trust if you don’t know?

And yet, it’s also a paradox. When you’re walking The Path to Awesomeness, you’re walking an unknown path. I know that for sure… I don’t know where the heck I am!

get lost

Here’s where Trust becomes a BIG word. Trust is a knowing that whatever happens, you will be okay.

How can you be okay? Iyanla outlines the four essential Trusts we must master.

These are: Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others, and Trust in Life.

Iyanla knows for sure, too. As she shares in the book, she’s at where she is now because of trust.

These are some of the nuggets of wisdom we can pick-up along the path:


Self-trust is the development and mastery of an unwavering, unquestionable inward conviction of your own value, worth, and ability to be, to create, and to enjoy all that you desire in the process of living and learning more about yourself. This requires an inner belief that you can rely on your own character, abilities, strength, and capacity to know the truth and act upon that knowledge in a self-supportive manner.

What’s the other word for self-trust? Confidence. Believing in yourself.

This doesn’t mean that you’re always right. That’s self-righteousness, and it’s of the ego.

It means staying true to yourself, and living by that truth you believe in. It’s making choices and decisions, and acting upon them based on what you believe is best for you.

And Iyanla clarifies that it’s not about being confident that you can and will have everything you want, when you want it, just like you want it. She says that the biggest lesson and challenge in mastering self-trust is giving yourself permission to make mistakes.

Self-trust is knowing that even if things don’t work out the way you wanted, you know that you will still be okay.

Soul Work

Because developing and mastering self-trust is soul work, its purpose is tied to a very high calling.

Self-trust is an invaluable learning device as you move through the curriculum of your life to heal what you need to heal, learn what you need to learn, and grow in the direction your soul is pulling you.

Everything I experienced in life was a divine setup orchestrated by my soul to grow me into the consciousness required to fulfill my purpose in life.

I knew it! I knew it!… It’s a setup! By our very own soul! Iyanla calls it “Divine Setup.”

All these experiences we’re having? It’s been planned out by our soul for its healing, its learning, its calling, its spiritual growth, its ascension. (Why in the world no one has told us about this when we were 7 years old?!!)

The soul already knows what we came here to learn. It knows that it has full support, always and in all ways, from the Universe to fulfill its purpose. It knows that we’re always safe and survival is not our issue. “It is your Creator’s issue,” Iyanla adds.

Our job is to trust that.

PS: Please tell every 7-year old you meet that they’ve been setup!

What’s the Matter with You?

Good feelings give us a sense of safety and security that can and do inspire us when we make choices and decisions. When we do not trust our good feelings, we cannot trust ourselves.

Not only do our feelings matter, they are at the core of whatever we believe is the matter with us. Feelings are a fundamental means of communication that arise from our internal landscape. Feelings cannot be faked. They are critical landmarks on your journey toward building self-confidence and self-trust.

Feelings are the language through which your life speaks to you. It is important to trust what your life is trying to communicate.

trust your feeling

TRUST YOUR FEELINGS. That’s what matters!

Feelings are the language by which our soul speaks to us. They are the built-in GPS that guides us in our path.

Feeling good means we’re in alignment with the Source. Take action when you’re inspired, “in-spirit,” because that’s your soul saying, “Go for it! Source got our back, trust me.”

Feeling bad means “Hold your horses amigo. If you act on fear, you’re only going to create more experiences that scare you.”

Thus, mastering trust underscores developing emotional awareness. The more we learn how to communicate with our feelings, our own emotional guidance system, the more we build trust in ourselves.

God Recognition

This process of healing, growing, learning, recognizing, and acknowledging cannot be rushed or underestimated. It is a necessary process that affords you an opportunity not just for self-recognition but also for God recognition. In learning to trust God, you must also learn to recognize the nature of God and how God works within you, as you, and on your behalf.

Only when we truly learn that God is trustworthy can we recognize that where we are and who we are serves our purpose and God’s purposes for us.

8 years. That’s how long Iyanla took to rebuild her life after falling apart. It was a rebuilding from the inside out.

What did she rebuild? Her relationship with God.

She says that when our life falls apart, there are fragments that must be examined and understood. These are pieces of you that must be healed and pieces of God that must be recognized.

Re-cognize, meaning to re-know what your soul already knows. Not what the ego or others would have you believed. That re-knowing is a remembering, as in re-membering yourself as a fragment of God. That remembrance of who you really are is what healing is.

Is Anybody Else Up There?

God – Infinite Intelligence, your Higher Mind, your authentic Self – speaks to you, within you, in your own voice. In essence, trusting God means trusting the deeper essence of who you are. The challenge many of us face is that we are taught to worship an external God: an identity or being that exists somewhere outside of ourselves. In response to this teaching, most of us come to believe that we cannot hear God, and that those who do hear God are special people. What I have discovered is that the more I trust myself, the more I hear God. I know the feeling that the presence of God generates in my body. I know the stillness that comes over me when the voice of God is speaking. I know the peace and calm that I feel when I hear that voice.

There’s a story of a man who slipped over the edge of a cliff and is hanging on for his dear life.

Man: Is anybody up there?
Voice: Yes, I’m here!
Man: Who’s that?
Voice: It’s God.
Man: God, help me!
Voice: Do you trust me?
Man: I trust you completely.
Voice: Good. Let go of the branch.
Man: What???
Voice: I said, let go of the branch.
Man: (After a long pause) Is anybody else up there?

Haha! Who can relate to that? *raising my hand*

First off, there are no special people. God speaks to everyone. There are only who listen and who don’t.

Truth is, we all hear God. It’s just that when we don’t like what we hear, we choose not to listen. When we don’t like what’s happening or what the outcome would be, we choose not to trust – God and ourselves.

Iyanla lists the four human qualities that block our ability to trust God and follow the guidance we receive – fear, doubt, disbelief, and disobedience. How they play out reflects our ability to trust ourselves and a manifestation of our relationship with God.


The Basis of Trust

Accepting that God is the established authority of life – and that He/She influences the flow of life within and around every living thing – is the basis for learning to trust God. In this concept, God is not a person, nor does God behave like a person. For me, God is essence, energy, presence. I grew to understand, accept, and believe that the essence of what God is, I am. This relationship is established in my mind as consciousness and in my heart as feeling experience.

Iyanla found out that there are three primary reasons why people don’t trust God:

  1. Because of the things that they were taught about God
  2. Because they don’t understand God’s nature
  3. Because they don’t have a relationship with God

Her bottom line: the creation is a reflection of its Creator, made in its own image and likeness.

What people did is the opposite. We made a god in man’s image and likeness.

Iyanla asks us to stop trying to make God small and human. And because we are God’s creation, we must also stop seeing ourselves from a limited human perspective, and start seeing ourselves as divine, as God is.

We must learn to expand our awareness, which allows us to know and understand who we really are, and also know and understand what God really is. By then, we can learn to trust God and ourselves.

Spiritual Practice

You must know God in order to trust God. That knowing cannot and does not happen in the physical-world reality. It happens in the core and soul of your being.

Trusting God is a spiritual experience more than it is a religious act or an intellectual pursuit. This means it is an internal process rather than an external one. In order to have the kind of spiritual experience that allows you to understand God’s nature in support of your ability to trust Him/Her, you must develop and deepen your daily spiritual practice of communicating with the God of your understanding.

Because trust is an intangible, invisible, inner process, the development and deepening of trust can happen only within you. And like the cultivation of any skill, inner mastery requires practice.

Iyanla writes a detailed discussion in the book the importance of having a spiritual practice, not only for cultivating trust, but for all aspects of life as well.

Here are some key points:

  • Self-inquiry, self-awareness, and self-acceptance are the roots and foundation of a spiritual practice.
  • Spiritual practice helps you gain a spiritual perspective of who you are as a being of love, light, wisdom, compassion, and wholeness.
  • It helps you gain clarity about your gifts and calling.

Barriers to Spiritual Practice

  • Lack of desire. There must be a “burning desire” for spiritual growth.
  • Lack of understanding. Spiritual practice is not just another task. It is process-oriented more than result-oriented.

Cornerstones of Spiritual Practice

  • No expectations. Be open.
  • Alignment. It’s all about aligning with and connecting to Source.
  • Commitment. It’s a lifetime investment.

As with any skill, what’s the key to mastery? Practice. Practice. Practice.

The Distinction: Trust and Faith

When you trust, you know within yourself, and that knowing is unshakable. It is trust that grows into your ability to put your faith in doing what is required, knowing that regardless of the outcome you will be fine. Faith is unnecessary except to support you in what you’re doing. When you know and trust, faith is a demonstration.

The essence of who we are is God and is of God. When we know, believe, and understand that we are individual expressions of God, trusting ourselves and trusting God are the same. There is no separation.

Trust is an aspect of being; faith, of doing. That’s why we call it “faith in action.”

When there’s trust, faith becomes a demonstration. It’s a natural by-product.

Trust is an affirmation of our connectedness to God. So it doesn’t really matter where we place our trust in, God or Self. We are never separate.

Therefore, trust can never really be broken. What can be broken is expectation.

“Have faith” is tied to having expectations. When our expectations are not met, we “lose faith.”

Trust is a knowing without expectation. It’s knowing that whatever happens, you will be okay because your trust is in God, in yourself, and not in what happens.

You’re a Carrot

In learning to trust the process of life, it would serve you well to have a relationship with, understanding of, and direct connection to the Source of your life. Not having any or all of these things can and often does cause the process to go awry. Think of it this way: a carrot does not know what to do with itself until the chef puts it where he wants it to be. Once the carrot has become an ingredient, its only job is to be a carrot and do what carrots do: add texture, color, and flavor.

Reminds us of a similar lesson from Sh#t Your Ego Says: “We are each a single piece of the same puzzle. Our purpose is not to solve the puzzle. Our purpose is to find our place.”

In the same vein, we are each an ingredient of the chef’s menu. Our job is to know which ingredient are we, so we can understand the role we’re asked to do.

The problem is we tend to believe what others tell us who and what we should be and do. We might believe that there’s something wrong with being a carrot; that we need to be genetically modified; that we’re better off as a garlic or onion. And so we try to be something other than what we are.

Iyanla says further:

The truth is that who you are and what you have come to do is etched into the fibers of your being. You can choose, consciously or unconsciously, to postpone, delay, deny, avoid, or attempt to steer the process of unfolding in another direction, but eventually, who you are will show up and take hold of you. In this unfolding and taking-hold process, your job is to trust that the chef knows what he is doing and that no one else or nothing else can or will misappropriate the chef’s plan or purpose for your participation.


The Willingness to Walk

At all times, in every situation, under all circumstances, you must know and trust that things are happening the way they are happening because life is rearranging your circumstances for a higher good. You cannot control what life chooses to arrange. Instead, you must learn to surrender. This does not mean you give up. It means you give yourself and your life over to something bigger, grander, and more glorious, even when you do not know what that is.

Trust requires a willingness to fall without giving the fall a permanent meaning.

We are born trusting. As a child, even without a single clue or idea of what it was, it only became natural for us to learn to walk.

We trust that we’ll be fully supported and guided. When we fell, it was natural for us to get back up again and continue learning. We knew that falling is part of learning to walk. We got wounded, cried, but we remained okay. We even laughed at ourselves.

It didn’t matter how many times we fell. There’s just an innate knowing that it’s only a matter of time before we can finally take the steps and walk on our own.

Our learning to walk didn’t stop in our childhood. We’re still learning the walk of life. And so we must have that childlike innocence again. We must always be willing to fall, get up, and continue walking.

In learning to walk, we don’t stop trying. We just keep trusting.

Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts: Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others, Trust in Life


IYANLA VAZANT is one of the country’s most celebrated writers and public speakers, and she’s among the most influential, socially engaged, and acclaimed spiritual life coaches of our time. Host and executive producer of the breakout hit Iyanla: Fix My Life on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Iyanla’s focus on faith, empowerment, and loving relationships has inspired millions around the world. A woman of passion, vision, and purpose, Iyanla is also the co-founder and executive director of Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development. Visit her at

Other Books by Iyanla Vanzant

Peace From Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through
Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything
Until Today! : Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind
In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want
One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth

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