We place so much emphasis on trust! “I trusted him and he backstabbed me.” “She cannot be trusted.” Usually statements like these are uttered with very strong emotions. Then, from where does trust originate and why do we break each other’s trust? All our questions and observations on the matter make us realize the importance of trust, because the essential mechanism under all relationships must depend on trust.
Solitary individuals do not need trust. Maybe a person may trust the night to be dark only because of its repeating pattern, but this type of trust is not reciprocal. The night doesn’t need to trust the individual; it is just there. Trust only happens between two or more self-aware people, groups of people and also nations or groups of nations.
Gaining trust is a reward for responsible behavior and an indication of cooperation. It is said, “Trust is earned.” For trust to establish between people, recognition skills of behavioral patterns are needed. Trust goes hand in hand with cooperation and respect and is strengthened through the test of time. If it weren’t for respect and cooperation, how could we trust each other?
In human endeavors, even the most altruistic actions and nurturing behavior stem from the ego of the doer. A mother nurtures her child because her ego is stroked by the title of being a mother and she wants to be proud of the work she will do with that child. In return, a child faced with repeated patterns of nurturing develops a capacity for trust. Only, when trust is betrayed, recognition of the broken pattern and the acceptance of a new pattern take place. That is why children who have been wronged repeatedly lack the capacity to trust.
The same goes for adults. If an adult has been repeatedly wronged and taken for a ride, say in financial matters, he is very careful with his money even where his best friends are concerned. From our comfort zone, our human mind and understanding makes us construct a defense against betrayal and defection from the norm. Once our trust is broken we take our steps with heightened awareness.
Unfortunately, developing a trust-relationship is the first step of various crimes. Gaining a victim’s trust, establishing credibility within an environment, and even creating a trustworthy environment can be the maneuverings of a perpetrator. Knowing this, why do we still trust so readily? The answer is again an egocentric one. We trust because without trust we could never get cooperation and reciprocity. We may not trust fully the way our towns work, yet we still put out our garbage on given days, try to keep our lawns and streets clean, and act our best in our own neighborhoods.
In general, people who trust have better interpersonal relationships. People who don’t trust tend to be more angry, competitive, and resentful.
A betrayal of trust is difficult for most people to forgive, but people who can trust are more likely to give someone else a second chance. Sometimes we may be annoyed by a new friend for being on the reserved side, but we have to understand that each individual is so complex and has so many experiences, feelings, needs, opinions, etc. that he can’t possibly reveal all sides of himself to a new acquaintance. So, he plays a role or at least shows only parts of his real self. Why does he hide parts of himself? Why do we all? Probably because of fear of rejection and our own sensitivity or vulnerability.
From what we see of each other, we form a concept of each other, which is usually incomplete and sometimes faulty. If we can recognize this in ourselves, we can empathize with others and form trustworthy relationships.
In general, most human interactions are based on a strong and almost blind trust. People who choose to trust tend to be happier, better liked by others, and more ethical than less trusting people. “I’ll trust them until they do me wrong” is a foundation for people who trust freely. When the stakes are raised higher, trust may be broken. Still, trusting people forgive readily as soon as they can understand the other person’s problems or what made them deviate from their normal pattern.
Trusting is another form of giving love, and like all giving, it comes from overflow. A person can hardly give from emptiness. We are happier when we deliberately choose to trust. Trust is a risk to take willingly because it makes people move toward love and away from fear. For that reason alone, trust is a defense in itself.
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