Should Others Have to Earn Our Trust?

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Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Relationships, Spirituality, Thought | Posted on 02-24-2016

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

To Trust or Not to TrustWhen I hear of people who no longer trust others because they were “burned before,” it makes me sad.

As I see it, there are two ways of looking at trust:

The first is to see people as untrustworthy until proven otherwise, and the second is the opposite–to see people as trustworthy until proven otherwise.

Only a one-word difference, but with huge implications.

While I understand why some would be in the first camp–especially if they’ve been hurt in the past–I believe the consequences of not trusting far outweigh the benefits of assuming the best in people.

If everyone needs to earn our trust then we live in a world where people are in fact, untrustworthy. This becomes our reality.

If everyone we meet is not to be trusted, it follows that we will act guardedly with them. In other words, we will no longer be our true authentic selves. Our fear of opening up and letting others in too quickly would dominate the way we behave in the world.

But here’s the thing…

Those around us can sense when we’re holding back and/or don’t trust them. They can sense when we’re somewhat closed off to them. This in turn can cause them to be less open and honest as well. Thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that people are not to be trusted.

How might things be different if we see the world and everyone in it as trustworthy until proven otherwise?

When people feel trusted they will want to be trustworthy.

Treated with openness, respect and trust, people respond in kind. Nobody purposely wants to let others down. Who among us hasn’t done things in the past we’re not proud of?  When we do, it always comes from how we’re seeing the world at the time.

In other words, everyone (yes all of us) are always doing the best we can given our state of mind in the moment.

When we know this to be true, it helps us to see that the default state for everyone is to act in a trustworthy manner. The more we know this and give those we meet the benefit of the doubt, the better and healthier our relationships will be.

–Jill

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What do you do when you caught your partner having an emotional affair? We both want to “move forward” but I am struggling with trust.

Would be really hard to say in a blog comment Jennifer. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss by phone or Skype or something.