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Trusting in the Next Steps

My box turtle, Bruce, clearly isn't worried about next steps (right after I snapped this pic, he climbed up, out and was heading over the side of his new tort fort when I caught him!).
My box turtle, Bruce, clearly isn’t worried about next steps (right after I snapped this pic, he climbed up, out and was heading over the side of his new tort fort when I caught him!).

As some of you know, I like to set a new intention to work towards at the start of each year. Not only does this neatly replace any obligation to set any New Year’s resolutions, which apparently aren’t quite my special gift, but it also gives me 365 whole days to work on whatever the intention of the year happens to be.

This year, my intention has been “The Year of Having Faith.” As such, I’ve been blogging quite a lot this year about faith (or lack thereof).

In keeping with the overarching goal of tackling tough shorter-term questions with a faith-first approach, I recently blogged about my efforts to develop a longer-term mindset.

So far, not so good.

It would seem that, for me at least, not much exists in the space between “today” and “20 years from now.” What I mean is – whatever is happening to me right now, today, is also what I assume will be happening to me 20 years from now.

This can be good and bad. For example, if today everything is going well in different areas of my life (career, relationship, finances, health, pet health, parental health, etc.) my 20-year outlook also seems similarly rosy.

But if today everything is not going so well (debt is piling up, my back went out again, my best friend just moved halfway across the country) then it simply follows that I am in no hurry for my “later” to arrive.  In fact, if it wants to just go visit someone else instead, that is fine too.

Interestingly, I have also recently realized this is part of the reason why I continue to struggle to have faith. I am starting to think it may also lie at the root of my ongoing battles with depression and anxiety.

Because the truth is, no matter how much my mentor, Lynn, and I talk about how the light only shines far enough to see the next step in front of me, somehow I continually fail to actually perceive those next steps, or even believe they are really there at all.

Here is an example. 

I have recently come to realize that, while my boyfriend and I may be on the same page with our goals and plans here in the short term, we have some pretty different ideas about what may be up ahead for each of us. This has catapulted me back into my age-old worry about being all alone and lonely in my old age.

If you are one of those lucky folks who makes new friends (and significant others) with relative ease, you may not comprehend what the issue is. Boyfriend splits? Go get a new one! Lots of fish in the sea…. (yes, Mom, I can hear you loud and clear….).

But if you are me, finding this out at age 45 is pretty much the emotional equivalent of being told it is time to go climb Mount Everest again, when you barely survived your first attempt and vowed you would never, ever do that again.

In other words, no way. And no thanks.

Plus, given the time it took me to climb up there the first time, I’m not sure the years I have remaining (however many they may be) will be enough to tackle that particular summit with any success a second time.

This morning while I was meditating (worrying) on the issue, suddenly a very reasonable-sounding little voice inside said to me, “Just trust in the next steps.”

To which I replied, “Yes, that does sound like a very reasonable thing to do.” For about 2 seconds, I felt relieved and reassured. Then I asked the voice, “How do I do that?”


Right at that moment, my box turtle, Bruce, took another flying nosedive off his rock cave – this is his idea of a subtle hint that he would like Mommy to wake up and take him outside to his tort fort now. Then my parrot, Pearl, chirped – he was ready for his night covers to come off so he could have his breakfast already.

Suffice it to say I am hoping that 24 hours is enough time for the little voice to think up some good practical “how-tos” that I can follow. And if it wants to tell me even earlier that is fine too.

Today’s Takeaway: When things suddenly shift in your life, do you struggle to adapt in a way that is positive, trusting, faith-first? Is your default mentality something uplifting, like “this too shall pass” or “have faith everything is all right?” Or are you more like me, feeling suddenly very much displaced and resenting the heck out of the fact that the early warning system has clearly failed yet again? How do you feel about your future and especially your longer-term? Do you have strategies or approaches that help you to make what plans may be reasonable or required in a peaceful and positive way?

Trusting in the Next Steps

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Trusting in the Next Steps. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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