Earning Trust

Some times you have those defining moments where something suddenly makes sense.  This can be something as complex as looking at an equation for years and not knowing how to complete it and then, one day and out of the blue, you look at it and it makes perfect sense.  Or something as simple as the arrangements of the magnets on the refrigerator door and you realize you really do not like them or any of the places that they advertise.

Today, it was one of those mundane things that suddenly came into clarity for me.  Yet the topic is important and should not be considered so mundane.

I was thinking about why it is so hard for me to trust people.  Even many of the people that are around me on a regular basis, I sometimes find hard to bring myself to trust 100%.

So… I am sitting here looking at some documentation that I am working on.  Then, as my mind sometimes does when I am working with things that let me go on “Autopilot”, and I start thinking of the company that I work for… my “Day Job”.  I thought about the work they have me do and how much trust they put in me to accomplish what I do.  Suddenly it dawns on me…

I thought about what I could use as an example of trust and how it is earned, and the thought came to me that this is something like learning to swim in a lake.

While it is not unheard of for a person to just dive into a lake that they are not familiar with, it is sometimes wise to test the waters first.  Wade in a little bit, feel the water, the temperature, look for any sharp rocks then swim out a little.  Keeping an eye on the shore at all times.  All the time being aware of potential threats both in the water and on the shore.

People and developing trust in them, is not much different.  You will not go up to a person that you are not familiar with and trust them with the keys to your house or car.  If you do not KNOW the person, either as at least an acquaintance, you will probably never trust them that far.  But if you are familiar with them, you might start small.

You would trust them with little things, keeping important matters confidential or to work with you on delicate matters without sharing the information with others that do not need to know what is going on.  This is the part where you start testing the waters.  Seeing if the swim is worth it.

As time goes on, you might entrust this person with more information or details that you do not want shared, yet you might want to share with SOMEONE.  In spite of what some may tell you, I feel that it is human nature to want to trust and share your life with others.  But through experience and the process of being let down, there are many out there that build up walls and do not want to let others into their lives to trust.

I am one of those people.  I find it very hard to trust others, even the littlest amount.  So I shut people out except for those that I already know and trust.  As you might understand, this firewall that I have put up makes finding new friends hard.  I might even say impossible.  I have been burned a few times through my life, but I think that maybe I went too far with how I lock people out of my life.  This is something that I think needs to change a little.

So I will promise to myself, that with this new… or at least new to ME… Revelation, that I will start training myself to allow a certain amount of trust to more people.  I will begin teaching myself to test those waters and find people that I can trust, with whom I can share, that are outside my present circle of friends.  Over time, those that I meet and let into my inner circle will help me to learn to not be so critical of others.

I do not expect this to be a quick transition.  When you spend so many of your years of life learning to find reasons not to let people into your life for fear of getting burned, it is no easy task to unlearn this.  I expect to be at odds with myself for some time as I retrain my thinking to be more open with others.  To not listing to a person and automatically assume that they are lying without having any past knowledge of the person.

This is going to be an interesting journey for me.  I will have to steer my course with caution and watch out for hazards.

Do you have a trust or relationship story you would like to share with me?  Advice from your own experiences? Please do.


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2 thoughts on “Earning Trust”

  1. I find that the key word in "Trusting" (in my estimation) is "incrementalism". If you throw yourself into a "trust" situation with wild abandon, you deserve what you get. But if you take small steps, testing the proverbial waters as you go, you'll stand less of a chance of being burned.

    Trust is important, you'll find life difficult to say the least, if you have trust issues, so it behooves one to take those "baby-steps" towards trust, by going through "conditional trust" first. But remember, you can not make the conditions so stringent that a person finds it impossible to live up to your expectations.

    • Therein lies what I see as having been my problem. I set my expectations so high that people rarely can make them. So I end up creating a self defeating policy. My goal is to change this… to "Allow" people in a little further than I used to initially. To give them the chance to BE trusted in increments, as you said.

      I think that because of the times I was burned in my life, I was so intent on not letting it happen again, that I shot myself in the foot, so to say. This may also be why I have so few people that I consider CLOSE friends. Including you, that number is three… not including family. They are an axiom to the equation.


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