The Slippery Slope of Trust
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As a society, most of us would unanimously rank trust as an important part of relationships. We want to trust that the people we live with, work with, and love, are going to do everything in their power not to hurt us.
Among the people I work with I often hear the question uttered, “How do I know I can trust him/her?” My simple answer is “You can’t know if you can trust them.” But I go on to explain, “Even more important is to know that trust solely placed in someone else is misguided.”
Trust in someone else is simply a belief, a hope, an expectation, that someone will behave a certain way and puts responsibility for your well-being on someone external. Once we turn over our power to someone else this way, we easily succumb to a victim mindset if they break our trust. Certainly, when we perceive trust has been broken, it is difficult to regain. Even when we claim to “forgive and forget,” we may have forgiven but we have unlikely forgotten, and therefore are less trusting.
When I was getting married, I too questioned my ability to trust my husband-to-be. I remember the anxiety-filled moment just a week before our wedding when I wondered out loud to myself, “What if I can’t trust him?” Without hesitation, even though no one else was there, I heard an internal, yet loud, answer, “You don’t need to trust him. You need to trust yourself to handle whatever he does or whatever happens in life and you need to trust Spirit to only provide that which you need to handle.” Even though it seemed counter-intuitive that I didn’t have to trust the man I was about to marry, it filled me with great relief. This put the power for my happiness back into my own hands. I knew I could handle anything life (or he) threw at me. Trusting myself was much easier than trying to control someone else’s behavior, especially for eternity.
Keep in mind, that while control is not the same thing as trust, they are often confused with each other. Fueled by expectations, they feel much the same. For instance, is expecting someone to be home by a certain time, trust or control? Is expecting someone to be faithful to you, trust or control? There is often a fine line between these. Once we are trying to control someone else’s behavior, it would appear that we no longer trust them (or they wouldn’t need our controlling efforts). The irony is that the more we try to control someone else into being trustworthy, the more resistant to being controlled they may become and thus, ultimately, less trustworthy.
A quick way to tell the difference between trust and control is to simply observe whether there is a desperation or deep concern in your own being. If so, you are probably looking control and fear in the eye. True trust is a surrender that is more peaceful, akin to security, and confidence.
When you feel that anxious concern, practice turning your trust inward. The inward trust will cause you to look carefully at whom you are choosing to partner with in life, or business. It will allow you to receive intuitive guidance and implore you to self-strengthen so you can make wise decisions in response to life’s blows as they emerge. Self-trust also means that you will carefully monitor your own behaviors, words and choices so that you are not instigating, contributing to, nor neglecting problems with others. Self-trust means that you are mindful of the impact of your words and actions on others, controlling your own behavior, and striving for self-mastery.
Rather than seeking someone you believe (hope) you can trust, seek someone with a high level of integrity. Integrity is the alignment of words, actions and values regardless of whether anyone is watching. Integrity leads people to take responsibility for themselves, their mistakes and to work to right their wrongs. Integrity is having an internal guide to behavior, rather than the need for external control. Integrity is about choosing actions that are in alignment with one’s values, commitments and responsibilities and is the foundation true trust is built on.
Then, trust yourself to handle whatever else happens in a manner that does not inflict harm on yourself or others.