“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ―Maya Angelou
Trust can be a variety of things.
The dictionary lists “belief in the reliability” of someone or something. What that does not reveal is that there are many applications of trust: it starts in babies in intrinsic trust of parents or caregivers, perhaps even more when they hit object permanence. From whatever child level you pick, at some point you are a trusting, or not trusting, person.
You can trust a merchant – or not. You can trust your friends, although in varying degrees. You must trust your primary relationship, or it will die. You can trust your political leaders – or not. You can trust your faith to always come through for you – or not.
In how many movies have you heard the line, “You’re gonna have to trust somebody”?
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ---Ernest Hemingway
The difficulty with Trust is that when we’re doing it in any important way, it makes us vulnerable and fragile. A breach of trust can be devastating.
You are the only one in charge of your trust and how and when you offer it.
My life view of my social communities is fundamental to my practice of trust. I hope I make decisions out of discernment rather than judgment – in other words, if you break trust with me I don’t think less of you – I just won’t trust you. I see myself in context as surrounded by 5 circles defining where I put people in my life. The fifth circle, the outside, is essentially limitless: it is everyone I don’t know. The fourth is acquaintances, whether I know their name or not – an example would be someone I have interactions with, say run into often in the pub. The third is the friends you’d invite to a party. Second is social relationships: close friends, people you like and can talk about many topics with, it also includes family outside the inner circle. With all of these groups I open myself and my life – my trust - in differing amounts.
The inner circle is the small number of people I love dearly, closer than friends, people who “get” me, people with whom I can be totally honest (I have some inner secrets I don’t share but I could and they would understand). They are people I embrace completely, too. These relationships embody All Trust. My immediate family was there, particularly my sister. These are people who can say No to me. These relationships are unconditional love, and they are, of necessity, mutual.
“Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect.” ---Mona Sutphen
Trust Must Be Earned
There are exceptions to this that we need to set aside – let discernment say No. When I was a telemarketer (selling worthless lottery tickets) it was my profession to earn your trust quickly – in 7 to 10 minutes. There are a lot of ways to do this but what they all come down to is listening for what the customer wants and assuring him that’s what he’ll get. We were selling dreams. I would win your trust quickly, using proven techniques and even specific words, then within 15 minutes take $1,000. off your credit card, a big chunk of which went in my pocket. Worse, they never won anything, but every 6 weeks we’d call back and still get them to renew the package. (One day I looked in the mirror and asked myself what the hell I was doing? I should have been telling the people I called about Gamblers Anonymous. I quit that day). My point is, if you’re too trusting, there are wicked ones about who are happy to take advantage of you.
“The Master said, ‘Trust in Allah but tether your camel — because Allah has no other hands than yours.’” ---Arab Proverb
One of my University professors, a major mentor of mine, told me, “Trust must be earned. Trust a person on a limited basis until he proves he’s worthy of more trust.” We generally do this as parents, with our children. Good managers use the same incremental exploration with their employees.
My professor was not alone in that thought, then, with two necessary aspects: one, it answers the Hemingway point (and the movies) - the only way to know how trustworthy a person is is to trust them. The other is the most important:
It Applies to You
Not only do you need to arbitrate your trust in your relationships, you also earn your own trust. That’s important.
Do you do what you say you will – just between you and you? Have you stopped doing what you know doesn’t work for you? Are you doing the things that do work? Are you showing up? Can you trust yourself with your finances? Can you trust your decisions?
Can you think of times you trusted yourself and were disappointed? Can you think of times you trusted yourself and were rewarded? What made that experience different?
It’s Bigger Than You
Finally, Trust is central to who you are as a human being – this is where the Spiritual hits the road.
What do you trust in for your larger self, your life apart from circumstances?
“In God We Trust – All Others Pay Cash” ---Jean Shepherd
There is obviously a larger context for our lives. Something – no responsibility of ours – keeps the world going - it is the same when we wake up as when we go to sleep.
I won’t debate names – Gaia, Nature, the Holy Spirit, the Great Spirit, Mother Nature, Mother Earth – I call it God. A Course In Miracles Workbook lesson says, “God is the strength in which I trust.”
“Who do you trust?” It is many questions in one. It’s a worthwhile question to take some time to consider.
As you do, don’t forget to remind yourself of the wisdom of the past: