Trusting Your Instincts
What Is Trust?
In part, trust is the most basic building block of any relationship, whether that relationship is professional or personal. It is the unseen bond that unites people, instilling them with the knowledge that they can believe in each other. Trust…a small word that amounts to so much.
Some relationships, even those that are the most integral to your life, lack trust and therefore lack integrity. A lack of trust may be due to a hurtful event - like an extramarital affair - that’s created a riff or because of an instinctive disbelief that the other person is unreliable. It's this instinct that poses the greatest interest, because it is rotted in fear of either being betrayed or taken advantage of. So I have to ask if inherent mistrust is a survival mechanism or merely a sign of suspicion.
I met somebody who, almost immediately, made me feel he was not worthy of trusting. He was the 22-year-old son of a friend, and I spoke to him about a very part-time position with my newspaper to help with weekly delivery. By “very part-time” I mean about six hours a week, all of that lumped into one day. I thought if we could negotiate a fair payment, I would love to have his assistance.
About five minutes into the meeting, I realized I would never be comfortable placing my newspaper in his hands. It might have been his half-hearted reactions to my comments – he gave a wilted smile when I told him about the many stops where the paper is delivered – but in any event, I didn’t trust him. He didn’t lie to me during our talk, and he didn’t dart his eyes nervously or wring his hands. But his body language seemed lazy, and I had a hard time believing he would deliver the paper in a responsible manner.
I’ve experienced a similar lack of trust in other relationships (not that this was a relationship, but rather simple interaction). This is odd to me, because people seem programmed to search for, and become close to, those people in whom they can believe. After all, it’s not like we are deliberately drawn to shifty people. No, what we really want is to include those in our lives who are steadfast and trustworthy.
Vulnerability as Prerequisite
If anything is required of a person to trust, it is vulnerability. In order to believe that somebody will care for and respect your emotions, you have to set aside all fears. This is like letting down a shield, one that safeguards you from harm. Vulnerability can even mean you are dependent on the other person, as with the potential employee I interviewed. Had I hired him, I would have depended on him to successfully complete his job. If he hadn’t, I would have been made vulnerable to a huge fall-out from my newspaper’s advertisers.
In romantic relationships, trust is easy to establish as the euphoric feelings of falling in love set in. But after that euphoria wears off, and the everyday trials of life demand attention, it’s not as easy to maintain blind trust, nor is it as easy to work for the relationship’s benefit. And when both parties involved sense a break down, they’re apt to raise their shields to ward off danger.
But living in fear isn’t really living at all. It’s like walking with your legs tied together, so you’re able to only cross a very minute space with each step. So, the best balance may be to listen to your instincts, but also remain open to gifting your faith when it’s warranted. That way, you won’t miss the golden opportunity of finding a trustworthy person and keeping him or her in your life.