TRUST- how to and how not to
I grew up trusting people, everyone. In particular I trusted older people when I took note of their grey hair. As a young man in the RAAF I would trust my superiors but even politicians, their grey hair accompanied by a smiling face. A sucker for grey hair and smiling faces, but new friends as well. I needed to learn not to trust, in fact friends would say "I dont trust straight away, trust is earned. But it took a workplace trauma in 1987 at a local council where I worked to shock me into reality. A few managers tried to force me into mini corruption activity. I refused and the conflict was on. My first panic attack and anxiety followed. I'd eventually lose my job and never return to that profession.
Since then relationships have been my interest especially here. Now, my attitude has been fully reversed, I dont trust many people and I find that mistrust to be a very effective insurance policy for my feelings and vulnerability. What interests me on this topic is family members. I'm not alone with family trauma, members disowning others (my mother and youngest daughter and one niece), finding a close relative betraying me, jealousy, etc.
Trust is a very important process to complete. with someone. Mistrust is an essential judgement we need for self protection and it is a basic right. But there is a gulf of people that lie in between the two extremes, acquaintances, distant relative etc.
What I've personally developed is an acceptance within, to not feel guilt that I dont trust. Indeed if a person in this grey area of connection asks me "do you trust me"? I answer "We are not close enough for me to trust you but yes, that could happen".
For the ones with mental health issues the less trauma we have with others the better. We can indeed spend our lives with techniques that 'dodge the dangerous'. That is far better than trusting and being hurt.
What is fair is to go with your gut feeling. Beware the manipulative- "what is that person going to benefit from this conversation"? "If they are sincere then time will tell". And take the time, listen to others and come to a conclusion. Trust should not be forced by obligation "You can trust me I'm your cousin"...
If you feel obliged to trust another person, do so in your own timeline, not theirs and dont feel bad to say "I'm still thinking about it".
Your trust is your gauge, your meter, your personal judgement... dont feel guilty by operating it without hinderance as it is a valuable tool of protection.
I love this thread, your words are really impactful.
I particularly resonate with the line "trust should not be forced by obligation". That's very true, and that's often the reason that infidelity in monogamous relationships is excused for example, because trust is assumed to be an adequate reason not to suspect that kind of behaviour.
I'm a real people-pleaser, and in recent years I'm come to learn the value of earning people's trust to avoid situations where I'm taken advantage of. I've had too many situations where I'll trust that my kindness is reciprocated in a friendship, or that somebody has my best interests at heart, or even that somebody will defend my name in my absence, only to find that my trust is betrayed. Nowadays, every single person I'm close with has earned my trust in one way or another.
When I was younger, I always used to blindly trust authority figures or even adults in general, as I'm sure most children do at some stage. I'm slowly coming to learn that some people just don't share my respect for people and morals with regards to reciprocity in relationships. I had a part-time job as a teenager where the bosses were quite emotionally manipulative, and this amongst other experiences taught me that not all people in authority positions have your best interests at heart, and that you have to prioritise and have respect for yourself in interpersonal relationships.
Once again, love this thread. It's so important to surround yourself with trustworthy people.
I also relate to this-
"I'm a real people-pleaser, and in recent years I'm come to learn the value of earning people's trust to avoid situations where I'm taken advantage of. I've had too many situations where I'll trust that my kindness is reciprocated in a friendship, or that somebody has my best interests at heart, or even that somebody will defend my name in my absence, only to find that my trust is betrayed. Nowadays, every single person I'm close with has earned my trust in one way or another."
It's isn't uncommon for potential friends to-
- Confuse vulnerability with weakness
- See introverted people as weak and an opportunity to control
- Have hidden or developed agendas
- Go missing in times of need
Going missing is like many of these "tests" comes unexpectedly. In 2016 our dear friend accompanied us for a round Oz trip. At Roma I had a meltdown and an argument with my wife. All was OK but police were called by an observer. Shortly after they left and we recovered. Our friends has gone shopping, unbeknown to us had observed from a distance. Nothing was said. We continued on not realising our male friend judged us on that incident.
6 weeks passed and we followed them in a remote area on the WA border region when we had an engine failure. We had an agreement if one became out of sight the other would stop and remain to assist, they didn't, in fact they continued for 1600km to Broome not caring what happened. When we were towed to a town with phone range our friends told us "too bad, you should not behave in a way that attracts police". Effectively he held a grudge for 6 weeks, covered it up well, left us in the desert and judged either knowledge. A disappointment in the extreme.
My wife had been friends with his wife for 25 years and allowed her partner to carry out that action. Their friendship was permanently ruined.
I'm happy for people to have close friendships. In fact my best friend of 25 years I married 11 years ago.
Protecting ourselves from the unexpected with friends is wise. Prevention of conflict, wiser still. As a rule now we don't travel with others...
I know I’ve said it before, but I do love these posts 🙂 I would say that you and I are often fairly aligned in most of our thinking, but we have somewhat different takes here. Like your past self, I tend to trust implicitly until something is done to make me question otherwise. Unfortunately, I have been hurt and betrayed by those closest to me. Now I could allow these people to change me and become mistrustful, but I refuse to let them ruin my trusting nature. I refuse to allow the world to make me mistrustful or cynical because I think guarding yourself also robs you of some of the good too. Like the time that a homeless man in LA who I had befriended near my hotel came to my aide one evening when I needed it. Or the generosity of spirit of some locals who helped me change a flat tire. I was on the receiving end of a paranoid and extremely mistrustful ex-partner for many years, and I saw what it did, it made him question the motive in everyone, constantly seeing shadows that weren’t there. Or his sister, another DV perpetrator, who had been taught to screw people over before you get screwed over yourself, something she readily embraced.
Rather I agree that you should go with your gut. In my experience it is rare to be totally blindsided by someone you know, if you are completely honest with yourself, the signs were often already there but you didn’t want to believe them. People can also put on an act when you first meet them so I tend to reserve my judgement until at least 6 months in, because that’s when any mask tends to drop (in my experience). If someone now betrays me, I no longer take it personally, after all it says more about their character than mine, but see it as a blessing that I can weed them out of my life.
Just my thoughts, and I may change my tune one day 🙂