- Do YOU Trust THEM?
Courtesy: Stalin, Mumbai
“I just don’t trust them”, is something many people say, sometimes many times a day. But what do we really mean? Do we mean, “I don’t have faith in them?” Or do we mean, “I don’t have confidence in them?” Trust, faith and confidence are frequently mixed as we use one word but mean another.
Trust and Faith and Confidence
Faith, by definition, is always blind. Faith tends to be associated with an outcome. But we can never know the precise outcomes of anything because outcomes are always in the future. We don’t even know what may happen on the way to the outcome/destination. But we have ‘the faith’ that all will be well. Which is why one of the most frequently uttered, and some say clichéd, movie lines in the heat of battle or in the middle of a crisis is, “Everything is going to be OK”! Faith is more often ‘hope’ in disguise. And hope is more often ‘desire’ in disguise.
Confidence, on the other hand, tends to be more like a conviction that the self or another has the capability to do something. “I trust you will do that well”, really means we have ‘confidence’ in the others capability. The meanings are close but there are significant and often subtle differences.
“I trust you”, is more a statement about our ‘belief’ in another’s trustworthiness, which means we believe they will not say or do anything against what we ourselves believe is the truth. Or we trust them not to reveal a secret or tell others something we have told them. We trust them with something that we have shared ‘in confidence’ and therefore keep it ‘confidential’. “I just don’t trust them”, means we believe they may say or do something that we believe is not right, or that they will break a confidentiality that we have requested from them.
Often we say, “I just don’t trust you to do the job”, but that really means we don’t have confidence in the others ability to do what needs to be done. Which is simply the result of our evaluation of their capability. The ‘mistrust’ that shows up most frequently in many of our relationships tends to come from a more personal motivation. It arises out of fear. Not the fear that ‘they’ might not be able to do it well, or even the fear that they might not do the right thing. It is the fear, that as a result of what they may do or say, we will personally feel ‘hurt’.
This kind of ‘hurt based’ and therefore ‘fear based’, mistrust of another ‘today’ is usually the result of a past experience from yesterday. We are likely to be thinking something like, “You let me down before and I ‘felt hurt’ so I don’t trust you anymore”. On the basis of our memory of our hurt feelings we withdraw our trust in the other. What we don’t notice however are two things:
1 When we make a statement, either through our words or our behavior, that we do not trust the other, they are likely to take it personally unless they are somewhat enlightened and therefore understand that we are the ones who have already taken it personally!
2 No one else ‘makes’ you ‘feel hurt’. No one else can cause hurt feelings at an emotional/mental level. We create our own feelings, and if we believe they hurt us it means we are still asleep to the truth that we hurt our self. This is of course not easy to see and even harder put into practice in the heat of the moment, or even when we quietly reflect on what others have done. Almost every soap and movie is based on the idea/belief that people can hurt other people’s ’s feelings, so it’s a challenging lesson to unlearn.
The world is full of people who lie, cheat, steal, betray, insult and break promises. That’s a fact. So when it happens and we are surprised and upset it means we have not yet realised this fact and that there is nothing we can do to change it, except become more true and authentic ourselves. Our mistrust of another arises because, sometime in the past, they have done what we neither expected nor wanted them to do. We expected them to be honest and upright citizens and/or friends. We expected them to keep their promises. And it’s our attachment to that expectation/desire that causes our ‘hurtness’ when ‘they’ don’t do what we expect/desire.
What ‘can’ easily happen for many of us is as follows. We believe a certain ‘other person’ will never lie, cheat, steal, betray or break a promise. When they do we feel let down and therefore hurt. Then, in order to avoid a repetition of that hurt, we start to look for similar behaviours in others and as soon as we see the slightest sign we start to withdraw both our trust and respect for that person. We believe we are doing the right thing and sometimes the righteous thing! But in truth we are simply trying to avoid pain and therefore closing our heart to the other.
Until we become fully aware that it’s our response that contains the hurt, and not the others behavior that causes the hurt, we may easily spend our life both consciously and subconsciously mistrusting others and not realizing this is why our relationships are not a place of love, joy and mutual nourishment.
It’s as if we have a daily challenge. It’s an awareness exercise that can awaken us from our illusions about trust. When we decide not to trust someone is it either because we don’t have confidence in their ability or is it because we fear they may do something to hurt our feelings? Only when we realize, “It’s not what you say or do that makes me feel this way, it’s what I do with what you say or do that makes me feel this way”, can we begin to free ourselves from patterns of what can become an almost habitual mistrust of others.
Only when we realise we share the planet with people who have learned, for whatever reason, to sometimes lie, cheat, steal, betray etc are we able to not be surprised and therefore not be emotionally upset by their behavior. Only when we see that such behaviours are also in themselves based in some kind of ‘learned mistrust’ can we generate the compassion, empathy and strength to show them, help them and guide them back to a truth that now seems lost to the world. And that is that the ‘heart’ of every human being can always be trusted, it’s just that their thoughts and the behaviours are not always connected and aligned to their heart.
This level of awareness allows us to meet ‘the other’ freshly each day without the baggage of our hurt feelings from yesterday. Perhaps it is in such an awareness that there lies hope for the world, a faith that the outcome will ultimately be good and the confidence to act with conviction towards that end.
Turn it the other way around. You know someone has real love towards you when they trust you fully, despite any history, any ‘previous’, as they say in law enforcement circles. And when you do fail to fulfill a promise, or even betray a confidence, they are not disturbed, the relationship is not affected, love is not withdrawn. The story of the broken promise is not remembered. It’s just slightly unfortunate that an increasing number of people in the world never ever experience this kind of love as trust, and so they never learn to show it to themselves or to others. This legacy of mistrust, handed down from one generation to another, often magnified in the process, both expands and underpins the breakdown of community and the rising tide of violence that we see in society today. The illusion that ‘others hurt me’ is so prevalent and so powerful that ‘love as trust’ is fast becoming a rare and precious gem.
Question: Which two people in your life today do you trust the least? Why do you think that is? What is the root cause of your mistrust?
Reflection: What is the relationship between mistrust and worry?
Action: Create three ways to demonstrate your trust in others this week.
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