Trust

The issues could be smaller or bigger

  • "I trusted you would arrive on time."

  • "Why didn't you do your homework like you said you would?"

  • "I trusted that you would know that remembering my birthday was important."

  • "I trusted that my insurance would pay for the open heart surgery."

  • "I trusted that my wife would not have an affair."

  • "I trusted that my partner would not embezzle money from our company."

  • "I trusted that if I made the change you wanted, you would not leave me."

  • "I trusted that my loyalty to the company for 21 years would not be betrayed."

  • "I trusted that my children would stay true to the church."

  • "I trusted my government to treat me fairly."

  • "I trusted myself to be faithful to my wife, but I wasn't."

  • "I trusted that I would keep my agreement to exercise regularly, but I didn't."

The issue of trust is everywhere. How could we live without it?

The problem lies in our idea of trust, not with trust itself. We often use trust (or distrust) to try to hide from, deny, or put off on someone else the risks involved. We want trust to make us safe. Let me give you a simple example.

An appointment with a friend

Most of the times my friend has shown up on time for our meetings. But a few times she didn't; she was even 35 minutes late once.

Yes, I could get some reassurance from my friend that she'll be punctual this time. But even a reassurance doesn't guarantee that she will. I could even ask her to play a game with me that if either one of us shows up late, the other one antes up $1 a minute for their lateness. 

I could possibly do other things to minimize the risk of her showing up late. I could even do something to lessen my inconvenience (like having a book with me to read) in case she's late. But, finally, there's always some risk. Or I can "distrust" my friend and not make the appointment at all. That too will entail cost and risk. 

Taking 100% responsibility

Am I willing to fully embrace the costs and risks inherent (even when I'm not even sure how much risk there is one way or the other) in whatever choices I make? Am I willing to let go of any right to blame another (or even myself) if it doesn't turn out the way I preferred or intended or even promised? Anything short of this is fighting with reality. Anything short of this is setting ourselves up for upset, either with others or with ourselves or with both.

Will you choose courage to face the risk of (your limited knowledge of) reality?

  • "I trusted you would arrive on time."

    • With your current knowledge regarding the punctuality of this person, even knowing that could be off, are you accepting the risks associated with making an appointment with this person (or not)? In accepting these risks, do you give up any right to be upset with them (although you could fake some upset, if you think it might be helpful for your future relationship with them...LOL) or with yourself?​

  • "Why didn't you do your homework like you said you would?"

    • ​With your current knowledge regarding the likelihood of this person doing their homework when they said they would, are you accepting the risks associated with this person not doing their homework when they said they would, with no right to be upset with them or with yourself however it turns out? This doesn't mean that you couldn't have a partnership conversation with them about how things might be different in the future.

  • "I trusted that you would know that remembering my birthday was important."

    • ​With your current knowledge regarding the likelihood of this person not remembering your birthday (especially without you gently reminding them in a timely manner), are you accepting the risks that this person might not remember your birthday in the way that you would like, giving up any rights to blame them if they don't?

  • "I trusted that my insurance would pay for the open heart surgery."

    • We buy insurance and rely on insurance with the idea that it will protect us from certain risks. And it may. But there are other risks we often don't acknowledge or even want to pay attention to. ​How generalized is the coverage? Could you end up being shocked that the contract doesn't cover what you thought it did? Will your job to try to collect from the insurance company (and how difficult might that be) or will a third party do that for you? How quickly will the insurance company step in? Will they dispute the claim? How much hassle will you need to go through to satisfy the claim? What are the chances that the insurance will provide less than is "fair"? What are the chances that you would have to take them to court to get a settlement? And many other risks. If you decide to rely on insurance, are you willing to accept all these risks (and more), letting go of any right to blame others or yourself if it doesn't turn out the way you projected?

  • "I trusted that my wife would not have an affair."

    • Learning that our spouse had an affair can stimulate a lot of fear and pain for most of us. ​We do a lot to try to prevent this. If it should happen, we can expect society (or those who know about it) to think of us as the victim (and take our side) and as our spouse as the bad guy. In our wedding vows, we promise faithfulness, "forsaking all others." Regarding our belief that our spouse will not have an affair, we are likely suffering from the optimism bias (thinking that our situation is better than the average). When we (and our spouse) promise faithfulness to each other, it's not that we don't have "good intentions," but we are making this promise against a very long period of time and against all manner of circumstances that are hard to predict. We are making this promise in spite of the hedonic adaptation that will likely occur with our spouse over time. We are making this promise in the face of the-all-too-predictable result of "taking our spouse for granted," which will provide the fertile soil of your spouse possibly responding to someone else who doesn't take them for granted. We are making this promise often in the face of changing the circumstances from one of physical distance (and having a chance to miss each other) to one of "stepping on each other's toes," where it's likely that our ability or motivation to be on our best behavior with our spouse will decrease. We are making this promise in the face of the risk that, if we express our jealousy too strongly or too persistently, we will create even more risk (of an affair or our spouse withdrawing from us or leaving us). When you have a lover or a spouse, do you accept and embrace all these risks (including others you may not know about)? Do you accept that risk as just part of the cost associated with the benefits of your relationship, without any right to blame yourself or the other, if the risk falls on the side you were not wanting? To do otherwise is fighting with reality (and guess who loses?)

  • "I trusted that my partner would not embezzle money from our company."

    • You now know the drill. Are you going to embrace the risks of life (in all their various forms) as just part of life to be accepted and even be played with​, not setting yourself (and your relationships) up for unnecessary upset and disappointment.

  • "I trusted that if I made the changes you wanted, you would not leave me."

    • Maybe you're more reliable to keep your promises or make predictions about your future behavior than others are (or maybe not). Regardless, every promise, every prediction carries some risk. Include that risk as a necessary cost of every choice you make. In the big picture, if you do this, you'll make more informed choices as well as being okay with it not turning out the way you preferred, whenever that happens.

  • "I trusted that my loyalty to the company for 21 years would not be betrayed."

    • We humans are naturally attuned to reciprocation. ​And, in general, this serves us well in our relationships with others. But it can also be deadly. In dealing short-range, it's fairly easy to manage and be clear about. "I'll give you this money now. Within a minute or so, you'll give me those apples in return." But long-range, it becomes more problematic.

      • "I worked and supported you through many years of you getting your PhD. Now it's time for me to take a rest and do what I want to do and for you to be the bread-winner."

      • "We parents sacrificed for you kids growing up. Now it's time for you to make us comfortable and take care of us in our old age."

      • "I've worked my tail off for this company and now they owe me."

    • These assumptions that often live in the background (usually as a sense of obligation, depending on the local culture) are not often spoken about or made explicit until later when and if the obligated party is not forthcoming in the way that the one being "owed" expects.​ Are your expectations fighting with reality in this way?

  • "I trusted that my children would stay true to the church."

    • Family beliefs and values being passed on through the children can occur as immensely important to parents. Consequently, it's easy for parents to indulge in the "trust" that their children will hold steadfast to those beliefs and values. And if their children don't, it can even call into question whether or not the parent did their job in raising the child properly. My girlfriend (of ten years now) is a case in point. Her parents, and especially her mother raised her and her two-year's younger sister to believe in the Chinese imperative of getting married and have one or two kids. Her younger sister did this. But my girlfriend did not. Her mother feels like a failure (staying awake worrying every night) because her older daughter is not abiding by the family/cultural values that she tried to instill in her. She is fighting with reality and losing every day.

  • "I trusted my government would treat me fairly."​

    • First, what is "fair" to one person is not necessarily "fair" to another. And, even with that, governments change their policies and positions. And then there are the administrators, the providers, the regulators, the enforcers...and what they do, even what they decide can vary with the person, with their ability, and with their mood. For example, parole officers are much more likely to grant parole to an inmate if they're making the decision in the morning, and much less likely to be so "generous" in the afternoon, a well documented fact. Believing that your "government" is going to treat you fairly on a consistent basis is most likely fighting with reality and blinding yourself ​to what's so. Your best policy might be to "trust" your government do whatever it does. So, that if your government "rains on you," you're more likely to have an umbrella and enjoy the adventure of it all.

  • "I trusted myself to be faithful to my wife."

    • Often a bigger issue than trusting others is trusting yourself. How often do you say to another or to yourself that you will do something (call someone back tomorrow, do your exercise today, get to sleep by 10pm) and end up not doing it.? Although there is always some level of risk that we must accept in trusting ourselves, the two most powerful solutions to increasing self-trust are Now-Next integrity (NNI toolkit) and Oneself-Others integrity (OOI toolkit). To the extent that you have mastered these two integrities, trusting yourself will be largely handled. And, still some risk will always remain. Are you willing to embrace that risk, letting go of any right to blame yourself (or another), if you do not keep an agreement or understanding with yourself?

  • "I trusted that I would keep my agreement to exercise regularly."

    • When you made the agreement to exercise regularly, did you consult with your Now, making sure that he or she was aligned with and could enjoy the process of regular exercise?​ If you combine that with under promising and having buffer in your day, you will be able to trust yourself with a high level of reliability in doing your regular exercise.

Unbetrayable

Using the approaches and tools in this link, you can become unbetrayable (and un-upsetable) in your relationship both with others and with yourself.

COPYRIGHT 2018-2020 BY DWIGHT GOLDWINDE