Trust is one of those linchpin concepts that both unite and divide us because they are concrete and yet so subjective. We cannot easily operate above an individual level without a willingness to trust. Yet it is one of those words that have almost lost their meaning due to overuse.
Each of us has more control over our own self (theoretically, should be literally) so I’ll start with the idea of being trustworthy. How did we each learn what this concept means? By being told, by watching others, by making mistakes that cost us the trust of others. And by placing our trust in the wrong person or situation.
How much space came in between what you were told about trust and the actual actions of those who told you the meaning? That space determined your own personal definition of being trustworthy and of the importance of trust. At least in your early years, until you may have had cause to reevaluate the importance and meaning for yourself.
On the surface of it, in a group or pairing, we assume that we are all dealing with the same definition of the word trust. But we forget how much weight experience gives to a definition; how it shapes, strengthens, or weakens various bits of the meaning until one person’s definition potentially has little resemblance to another’s.
But we use the same word, trust, and we assume that our opposite has the same general understanding and expectations of that word. We build a relationship, a project, what have you on top of this expectation of understanding. We are then either pleased or disappointed with the outcome of the actual event where we placed our trust, or were trusted based on a concept that we did not cross reference in meaning at the start. We then can’t say that we properly placed or misplaced our trust, rather we didn’t mutually define what trust meant in that circumstance.
Books are written on this topic, I have read a few – articles, too. I admit that this post is based more on my experience and whatever psychology that I have internalized. I was a very open and trusting child – back to my remark on those spaces; because the people who taught me about the meaning of the word were very trustworthy. As I went out into the world, I (painfully) learned to be cautiously trusting but stuck to my own ethic in respect to honoring my own standard to be trustworthy. Taking care to explain my driving definition behind any participation, or promise to perform.
I have a strong belief in under-promise and over-perform as an effective method, while defining my intent and verifying that I understand the intent of my opposite or the group. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still find myself disappointed in others, particularly if they prove themselves false. Each time I ask myself if I should trust less, and each time I decide to stick to my own standard and not let it be affected by the shortcomings of a few.
I’ll end here, for now. But this has been a broad stroke on overall trust – there are so many nuances. Like knowing that you can trust someone in certain aspects, but not in others. Perhaps I will return to this topic again in the future.
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