Trust is the willingness to be vulnerable and have confidence in the intentions and motivations of others. The challenge with this, is that in order to feel vulnerable we need to trust, and in order to trust we need to feel vulnerable. It seems an impossible position.
The healthy approach is to start from a place of self trust. How do you love and care for yourself? How do you meet your own needs? Are you willing to shine a light into your vulnerable places and not form judgement or self criticism? The road to trusting others begins with trusting ourselves. When we can have confidence in ourselves , it reduces our need for outside approval and allows us to deepen our connection with ourselves, and therefore others.
Trusting ourselves involves paying attention to our needs and seeking healthy ways to get those needs met. It derives from the most basic needs (hungry=eat), to the more complex emotional needs of our psyche. We often put our misplaced trust into the hands of another and expect them to take good care of us. We have all been hurt, disappointed and rejected by another, even with the best of intentions. Our most consistent ally in life is ourselves and until we develop even a semblance of self trust we will continue to play out trust issues in our relationships with spouses, friends, family, coworkers and even the world at large.
Life happens. We see the news, we all have stories of pain. If we live in fear of everything that can go wrong, we are giving our power away. Trust isn't about thinking that nothing "bad" will ever happen, it's about having enough faith in yourself to rise to the circumstances and navigate your way through the challenge to the best of your ability.
Trust is built on boundaries and discernment. When people show you who they are, you need to believe them. People who violate your boundaries and do not earn the right to witness your inner thoughts, emotions and fears, are not entitled to be a part of your inner circle. And that’s okay. Exposing your entire life to everyone without filters is no longer being vulnerable, it’s an attempt at unhealthy attention and an indication that it's time to work on your self worth and self confidence.
Strategies that help build trust:
1. Be trustworthy of yourself and demonstrate your worthiness to others. Hard to give what you don’t have.
2. Reserve inflexible judgement of yourself and others, be tolerant and patient while you gather information.
3. Take responsibility for your own transgressions and make appropriate amends. It helps to overcome “perfectionist expectations”. We are human, we all make mistakes.
4. Actions speak louder than words. Follow through. It is just as important to keep your word to yourself as it is to honor your word to another.
5. Avoid people who undermine your value or confidence. They clearly don't have your best interest in mind. People who bring out the best in you are worthy of your loyalty and trust.
6. Manage your fears. If you expect a worse case scenario you are in direct conflict with the energy of trust. Reality check the evidence presented and challenge your limited biases.
7. Integrate intuition and instinct. When information comes quietly and with great clarity, it is a “knowing”. When it comes with overwhelm, confusion, uncertainty and lots of head chatter it is more likely fear. We cannot make sound decisions from a heightened sense of fear unless we are in a dangerous situation and need to act safely and immediately.
These guidelines can be easily applied in developing a trusting relationship with yourself, and then with a little luck and a bit of optimistic faith you can develop deep and meaningful relationships with other worthy humans. Imagine the freedom of starting from a place of trust and letting other's behaviour determine the outcome of the relationship or situation, and not allowing our fear of the unknown prevent us from taking some leaps of faith in love and life.