A few years back I was having lunch with a friend of mine. She was talking about how as an attorney she no longer trusts anyone. Daily she meets people who lie and who do horrible things. I could see the sadness in her eyes as she created an anti-trust barrier between herself and everyone else in the world. She stopped trusting in a desire to protect herself, but it also meant she was not truly living.
I told her that I trust everyone.
I trust my uncle to borrow money and not give it back. I trust my neighbor to lie about his dog digging in my garden. I trust politicians to throw out their campaign promises as soon as they enter office. I trust people to be who they are – not who I want them to be.
Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust means being confident and certain that X is X. Trust does not mean X is good or bad. Just that X is X.
At some time, however, trust stopped being a recognition of truth and began to imply a standard of conduct. Trust morphed into being trustworthy where there is no risk of being hurt. Which can happen, but only if we trust in the truth of the situation. Pain comes when we expect something which is not real. Pain is when we want a dog to be a cat. A dog will be a dog. My uncle will not pay me back. My neighbor will lie. If I don’t trust them to act as they naturally do, then I am the one creating the pain, anxiety, and fear.
Trust is based in acceptance. Seeing and accepting someone for who they truly are and not what we want them to be. We all have people in our lives who we wish would act differently. Who we believe could be happier and live better lives if they made different choices or acted in a different way. But they do not. And we need to accept the reality of the situation.
Acceptance does not mean we allow them to hurt us. For instance, after realizing I would never receive a penny back from my uncle, I stopped giving him money unless I choose to give it to him knowing I would never see it again. Acceptance means we see others for who they are without judgement. We remove our expectations from them. We allow them to be as they need to be. And we change our actions and reactions to ensure that we are not negatively affected by their choices.
Is there someone in your life who has broken your trust? Beforehand, did you both agree to a code of conduct? Was the incident truly a breach of that conduct? Where is the breach in the gray between adhering 100% to the agreed upon conduct or not? Even if you agreed to a code of conduct, did you know in your heart of hearts that the other person was not capable or willing? Can you see the person for who they truly are versus what you hoped they would be?
We are all human. I challenge anyone to come forward who has not told even the smallest of lies or broken the smallest of rules. We need to begin to see each other as fallible humans, to repair what we can, and to protect ourselves from those who are not safe to be around. How would your life look if you began to see and trust people for who they really are?