“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy” ~ Walter Anderson
“Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have trusted other people. They have trusted me. I have had my trust broken. I have broken other people’s trust. The idea of trust seems like such a basic concept, but in reality, it cannot be more complicated. We are all human therefore making the concept of trust neither black nor white, but with unfortunate amounts of gray. Merriam Webster defines trust as: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. How do we have assured reliance on anything in a world of people who are constantly testing our certitude?
I definitely do not have all the answers to such an expansive question or even to the concept of trust itself. However I do know what I have learned from my experiences. The most important thing I think I have learned is to trust my instincts. Listening to our instincts is really about trusting ourselves first and foremost. When I have listened to them, I have never known them to fail me. For me, instinct is that pit-like feeling in my stomach that flips a little when someone looks me right in the eye and spouts out sentences of lies. Instinct is the bad vibe I may get when I meet someone for the first time. Sometimes it is that indefinable feeling that someone is not the right person for me to confide in. Looking back on events and people in my life, anytime I have not trusted my instincts, they have always ended up being right. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
What about trusting people though? Other people breaks down into two categories in my eyes: those we are trusting for the first time and those who we already put our confidence in and they broke it. People can break our trust in many ways and for many reasons. It can be as simple as a friend not following through on a commitment or as complicated as a spouse having an affair. I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer on how to handle a broken trust except for the one necessary decision that must be made: am I able to trust this person again? Because really, when someone breaks our confidence in them, it is then our decision to decide whether WE have the capability and/or desire to let them in again. Did the person who broke our trust make a onetime poor decision or are they a habitual offender? Are they capable of earning out trust back again? Are we capable of forgiving them?
That brings us to the other category of people: those who we are placing our trust in for the first time. Unfortunately, if you are one of those people who have had your trust broken over and over again, you’re probably going to have some issues here! I have had way too much experience in this department…living with a habitual liar for many years can do that to you. And face it, like Walter Anderson quoted above, trusting makes us vulnerable. It is a paradox because if we don’t, we lose out on the joy and love that can come from connecting with another person.
This is what I have discovered though. For me, truly trusting another person (whether it is with my friendship, my home, or my heart) for the first time, involves faith. It may not be for everyone, but I think that after you lick your wounds, learn from your past, and move on: you just have to make the leap. You need to have faith in your instincts and your judgment. Faith that you will learn something from taking the risk. Faith in yourself that no matter what comes from trusting again, you will make it through the experience. Faith that because you are wiser and stronger, this time you will find the joy and the love that you so richly deserve.