At nearly every turn, I see articles and/or books about love, friendships, and relationships but I don’t nearly as often see things written about trust. Yet every aspect of our lives hinges on it.
Consider this… we trust that our car won’t malfunction and put us in harm’s way while we’re driving, we trust the pilot of the airplane we board to get us safely to our destination, we trust that the company we work for will pay us regularly, we trust that restaurants will serve us food that has been properly stored and prepared, we trust the medical profession to properly diagnose and treat us, we trust the bank with our money, we trust that our friends, family and/or significant other will not betray us in any way. Trust is foundational to our lives. We all trust whether we like it or not.
We’re often not consciously aware of all the ways that we trust. And that’s ok. If we stopped to think every single time before we said or did something – about whether or not we should trust in that instance – life would grind to a halt. It would actually breed two unwanted things… paranoia and fear. To coin a phrase, we would start finding a demon under every doorstop. That wouldn’t be healthy or productive.
But the flip side of that coin is that sometimes we trust too much or our trust is misguided. We shouldn’t trust blindly, although blind trust does have its place. If your house is on fire and the fire fighter climbs up the ladder to the third floor to rescue you, that is not the time to insist you never trust anyone to carry you.
One thing I appreciate the longer I live is the benefit of first hand experience. I’ve learned that I couldn’t trust people I should have been able to trust, and I learned that if someone starts out as untrustworthy, that’s most likely the way they’re going to stay.
I also appreciate the God given gift of gut instinct. Think of it… if someone betrays your trust, the first place you feel it is in your gut. It’s like you’ve been kicked in the stomach. So, while I’m aware that my gut instinct could potentially be wrong, I’m not apt to outright dismiss it.
Instinct always deserves careful consideration.
I’ve decided that the older people get, they often fall into one of two categories… they trust everyone or they trust no one.
You’ve heard about the too trusting ones. Scam artists target them by phone and/or by e-mail. If you act in the least way official with these people, they’ll tell you anything. “Hi, I’m with Bank XYZ. We inexplicably need you to verify the banking information we should already have.” So, of course, they tell you everything. The next thing they know, their account is empty. Or their credit is ruined. Or both.
But, you’ve also heard of the chronically suspicious people. They’ve never learned who or what to trust so their policy is to distrust everything and everyone. Relentlessly. Irrationally.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to ‘grow up’ to be either of those people.
I have been badly burned in the trust department – as I’m sure most people have. Some of it could have been outright predicted; some of it no one saw coming. Regardless, it would be easy to just decide to never trust again. After all, it usually only leads to heartache, right? That way of thinking schools us to end up like person #2. Or we could just keep trusting everyone regardless… and become like person #1.
For me, the hardest part of choosing to trust is letting my guard down. Allowing myself to be vulnerable is, well, kind of vulnerable. But, I believe the experiences I’ve had in life to this point have equipped me with the knowledge to make better choices in all areas, including who I can and can’t trust. That being said, I will probably always go to doctor’s appointments having done at least some background research. I don’t care how good the doctor is, I’m not going in there blind. And I’ll probably continue to keep certain people at arm’s length because of damaged trust in the past… which is along the lines of eyes wide open.
But, my ultimate goal is balance. Surrounding myself with quality people who I know I can trust implicitly. Who I can let my guard down with. Who I can just be me with.
It’s worth it to figure out the difference.
Trust me. I know.