To trust or not to trust
Trust is tricky. Trust is a human and spiritual subject. Books are written. Stories told. Definitions attempt to explain it. Despite our efforts in understanding the concept of trust, we are still baffled by its expression and how we practice it on personal and global levels.
To test your understanding, answer the following:
- Is trust vital to survival?
- Is there a perfect way to know how to trust? How can we maintain trust?
- Is there a secret formula to recover when trust is broken?
- How do we know when trust is not present?
- Why are animals better at trusting than humans?
How many questions did you answer? Were your answers based on your own experiences or Google searches?
Signs of Trust
Trust is a key aspect of practicing life. Trust is part of the glue that allows us to feel safe and secure. We tend to be choosy about whom to trust. Sometimes we get through the day trusting the world has our back, then a family member's confusing phone call triggers whether we trusted too much or too little.
We cannot grow without trust. If we wander away from trust we walk into suspicion, doubt, scrutiny and plenty of fear. When we experience trauma such as cancer or a car accident, trust may shift to strong uncertainties about where we are going or how we'll recover.
Trust can make or break us. Apparently the act of trusting demands a lot of mental and emotional effort. An article posted by the "Trusted Advisor" shares four ways we use the word “trust," to:
- Interpret what people say (credibility)
- Describe behaviors (reliability)
- Decide if we feel comfortable sharing information (bonding)
- Indicate whether we feel other people have our interests at heart (self/other focused)
Conversely, when trust is missing internal conflicts rise to the surface. We feel uncomfortable and unsettled. In an attempt to decipher our discomfort, we make comments like this:
“I’m not sure how I feel about this person. He only talks about himself.”
“My stomach feels squeamish and my heart races when I’m around this person.”
“She treats me like a child.”
We feel stuck when these perceptions are unresolved. We feel blame and anger. Accumulated experiences of missing trust may even lead to mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, Fear of Abandonment and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Turning to alcohol or drugs are unhealthy coping strategies. They delay recovery. Finding a coach or mental health professional can help us return to well-being.
Trust strengthens spiritual awareness and connection. Spiritual seekers understand the major role trust plays in their growth. Trust in a higher power gets us through tough times. Divine trust teaches us to detach from negativity and connect to the never-failing anchors of peace, love and joy. Ego takes charge without trust in the Divine. We become confused about who we are in the world. We are prone to fear and allow chance to decide our fate. We forget how to connect with our inner self, and seek temporary relief in empty places.
Trust is not
- Dependency. Trust is imprinted in Human Beings. At birth we arrive with a small body and a voice not yet knowing words. We depend on others to tend to our basic survival needs, including water, food, touch and shelter. At inception we are also equipped with divine tools such as trust, love, forgiveness, strength and healing. This combination of dependency and divine tools allows us to engage in relationships. If you’re a parent or have spent time around newborns, you are aware how love and trust contribute to a baby's growth beyond their five senses.
Dependency means something external is needed to function. The body is used to walk, talk and drive a car. Dependency in the extreme becomes addiction, habit and obsession to an outside source. It shuts us off from hearing our internal compass. In this state of illusion, we go down the wrong road. When we finally embrace recovery, trust becomes a core component of healing. We turn inward and feel ourselves whole again. Remembering the divine tools inscribed in us opens the door to find our way back home.
- Trust is not attached to one specific event. Our inner radar hears the word trust and translates its energy in various ways.
Self trust: Do you believe in your innate ability to take care of yourself? Emily has spent the last nine years in therapy, retreats and in online chat rooms trying to figure out how to trust herself. Her peace of mind is constantly compromised. She walks through life on eggshells. She avoids human interactions for fear of saying the wrong thing. When she does speak up, she spends days recanting and judging her words or tone of voice.
Other trust: Do you trust those closest to you? Do you trust them a little or 100%? Robert and Bethany have been dating for a year. Overall, their time together has been fun. They are comfortable and have strong feelings for each other. However, in times of disagreement Bethany threatens to leave. Despite Robert’s assurances that he trusts Bethany and believes in their ability to resolve conflicts, she remains skeptical and continues her threats. Exasperated, Robert tells Bethany they’ve reached an impasse; she needs to value their relationship rather than running away.
World trust: Do you trust your leaders? For centuries large groups of people used trust to build and crush empires, businesses and causes. Although it's difficult to measure, trust opens doors, inspires ideas and widens hearts. Without trust we cannot co-exist as a world community. History has revealed that the absence of trust crumbles societies and institutions. Countries endeavor to foster trust in their neighbors to maintain peace and stability. Business deals and board decisions cannot proceed without trust.
Curious how countries rate according to a set of rankings leading to group trust? US News and World Report published a white paper outlining scores based on several factors and attributes.
- Trust is not time limited. Trust can happen in the blink-of-an-eye and last for lifetime. At Princeton University researchers asked students to look at anonymous faces and give feedback if they believed them trustworthy. To their surprise, decisions were made in milliseconds. Most of us don’t keep tabs on just how much trusts exists in all our relationships.
- Close your eyes and visualize the word trust. How do you define it? Do you see people or stories? Words or images?
- Does your trust definition need tweaking? If so what parts of it do you need to strengthen? Shed?
- Practice your new definition on yourself. Then expand your practice to your close relationships. Is the new definition helping or hurting you?