Deborah Azzopardi – Lean on Me. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.”
1.What is Trust?
The dictionary defines trust as
“..the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.”
However, trust is is more than the above definition, more than reliability, dependability, truthfulness. It is a collection of all these qualities and still more…..
Trust is having confidence in oneself or another person, believing that they will not use or abuse you, let you down, exploit or take advantage of you.
They can be relied on to tell you the truth, to be honest….. and worthy of your trust. You feel you can depend on them.
Trust is central to our world; it is all-pervasive, both locally and globally, and crucial to our very existence within it.
“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”
Think about it; we depend on others in so many ways. We cannot avoid this fact of life. If there were no trust, we could not function or cooperate with those around us and our lives would become untenable.
Chaos would reign, as in Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming:
Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned…
Chaos. (detail) Troy Wandzel. Flickr.
2. Where does trust begin?
Child with Toys (Gabrielle and Jean) – Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1895)
The origins of trust lie in infancy; from our earliest days, we learn whether we can trust our first caregivers- or not- and we grow up generalising from this early experience.
We see the world though a lens coloured by the quality of trust we ourselves have received.
The developmental psychologist Erik Erikson regarded social development as divisible into eight stages, the first of which he described as trust v. mistrust.
This stage lasts from birth to around eighteen months; the infant needs the parent’s care and stability in order to develop a sense of trust in the world.
Without this, the child will grow up suspicious and mistrustful of others. Children need to be shown that they, too, are seen as trustworthy and dependable and not regarded by the parents with an attitude of suspicion.
“Because you believed I was capable of behaving decently, I did.”
“The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust.”
3.Do you find it difficult to trust others?
Aristide Maillol – Woman in White [1890-91].Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,’ said Frodo.
Sam looked at him unhappily. ‘It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. ‘You can trust us to stick with you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”
How can we tell another person is trustworthy? Is it a gut feeling, or is it based on a reasoned, cognitive process?
I think the answer is that it is both; we utilise our thinking processes to judge whether a person appears to be trustworthy, and we also use our instincts.
Trusting another person does make us vulnerable; it is important to be able to develop an ability to, as a far as is possible, judge whether others are trustworthy.
Often, those who find it difficult to trust have had bad experiences in the past; they may have been abused, constantly let down, disappointed or hurt physically or emotionally. They may have been abandoned or have lost a parent when young.
These ‘trust issues,’ as they are often called, might mean that there is a fear of intimacy and that it is difficulty to maintain satisfying relationships.
Many people come to psychotherapy to try to deal with and work through such issues.
4.Do you tend to trust too easily and get hurt?
Sergio Martinez Cifuentes – Knife Thrower Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Trusting people can be a risky business. We need to have our wits about us when we choose who to trust, otherwise we might end up being duped and deceived.
Blindly trusting others as an adult means that we are more likely to get hurt at some point in our lives.
Do you tend to choose the wrong people to trust? Sometimes, if we find ourselves continually doing this we may need to examine our own behaviour. Perhaps we are repeating something old in terms of relationship patterns?
If you feel some of the following points apply to you, this could mean that you trust too easily, or that you may be more susceptible to being taken advantage of :
- Are you a pushover, easily taken-in, agreeing to others’ wishes too easily?
- Do you lack confidence in yourself and tend to be over-needy of others’ attention, praise and love?
- Do you believe in the quick fix, the instant solution, the magic answer, to get you out of a dilemma?
- Do you often override your ‘gut’ feelings, your intuition?
- Do you tend not to discuss with others before making important decisions involving new people/ventures?
Of course, many amongst us can identify with some of the above points, and that certainly does not mean that we are definitely going to be betrayed.
It may, however, be worth thinking about how likely you are to be taken in by others with unscrupulous motives.
5.Are you trustworthy?
The Cunning Thief. Paul-Charles Chocarne-Moreau.(1931) Wikimedia Commons.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Being trustworthy takes a good deal of effort sometimes. Developing and maintaining integrity consistently in one’s dealings with others is no mean feat, especially during times of stress.
What does being trustworthy entail?
- Telling the truth.
- Being consistent and authentic in one’s behaviour and reactions to others.
- Showing respect to others by being reliably on time.
- Being there for other people and being kind.
- Avoiding gossip.
- Honouring commitments.
- Keeping others’ secrets.
- Owning up to one’s own mistakes.
- Being upfront; not doing things behind others’ backs.
- Keeping promises and one’s word. Not lying to or deceiving others.
- Maintaining long-term friendships with those who are trustworthy.
- Trusting others and confiding in them.
“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” – Lao Tzu
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
- Respecting others and showing gratitude and appreciation to them is part of a trusting relationship. Gratitude facilitates trust.
- As I mentioned earlier, we need to trust others, for our sanity, our daily life, our very existence. Being trustworthy oneself means that we will attract other people who can be there for us in life, especially during difficult times.
“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”
Continued next week……..
*Don’t Miss Next Week’s Post: 5 More Very Important Questions About Trust.*