Let’s face it. Most people who work with a life coach have had something crappy happen in their lives. We often start working together in that time when you’ve gotten up onto your feet again, have dusted yourself off, and are looking around at the world trying to figure out what’s next. One of the questions that is asked often at that point is about how to trust again.
There are lots of pieces to the puzzle that is the answer. There is forgiveness of self and others for past wrongs. Personal boundaries that need to be examined, redefined and strengthened. Usually, a big dollop of self-love is needed too.
Once those issues are considered, I believe there are 2 critical elements in how to trust (especially when you’ve been hurt before) that are the key to finally getting it right.
Trustworthy vs Trusting
I was part of a discussion recently that, in part, was about the other person’s unwavering belief that you ought to trust everyone fully and immediately until they prove you wrong. The sentiment was good – in order to have a good relationship (in any kind of relationship), that relationship needs to be founded on trust. I was the dissenting voice in that conversation. You may be surprised that I don’t believe it’s true that you should trust everyone from the get go.
When I meet a person (in any context) I am discerning whether or not I want to enter into a relationship with them. Do I want for there to be something more (a friendship, business relationship, or date)? There is a whole lot that goes into that discernment – even though it usually doesn’t take a lot of time. I am aware that I haven’t yet entered into relationship with that person. I believe that relationships are a conscious choice.
While I’m figuring out whether or not I want to have another interaction with this person and begin some level of relationship, trust is something to consider. What I don’t do is blindly decide that I can (or should) trust every single person I encounter until I have proof one way or the other. What I do is to have a belief that people are trustworthy.
I believe that people are trustworthy and do their best in any given moment. So when I begin a relationship with someone, I enter into it with a belief that they are trustworthy. That does not mean I trust them explicitly. Just that I am holding the space for them to show up in my life in a trustworthy way.
As they demonstrate their trustworthiness, I can place more and more trust in them. If they aren’t acting in a trustworthy way, it’s my job to notice that and hold my boundaries accordingly. This is a place where people can get hurt. The idea of trusting everyone until they prove you wrong often leads to trusting everyone until you get hurt. Trust, like respect, is earned.
Trust, like respect, is earned. It’s important to remember that people are generally trustworthy as they are earning your trust though, or you may end up inadvertently shutting people out unfairly.
And that leads me to my next point.
A Sliding Scale of Trust
Trust is defined as “firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of.” By its nature, trust denotes having experience that creates that firm belief. The more experience, the more firm your belief, the more you trust someone. It’s why you’d share your most intimate secrets with your BFF of 30 years but would never breathe a word of them to a business colleague you’ve only known a few weeks.
Trust is on a sliding scale. When you consider how to trust, it’s important to remember that. There is no reason to trust someone you’ve just met fully and completely, even if you believe they are trustworthy. This is another place where people get hurt in their trust.
I believe people are trustworthy. I believe that actual trust is earned based on experience. Trust, to some degree, can be earned very quickly. The more someone demonstrates being reliable, telling the truth without blame or judgment, and being able to do what they say and say what they do, the more trust can grow. This is the sliding scale of trust.
The Many Shades of Grey
This extends beyond trust too. For example, you can believe people are generally respectful. You can treat each individual you meet with geat respect. Over time, that genuine respect is earned based on experience. Or not.
You can believe that people are enjoyable to be around. From that belief, you can approach each interaction with an intention that it will be enjoyable. Over time, you can discern whether it’s true in any particular relationship whether you are experiencing joy. Or not.
Perhaps you believe that people have a good spirit of intent as they go about their day. You know your spirit of intent is good and as you go about your day you can believe that others are acting with a good spirit of intent too. Over time, you can see and understand the spirit of intent of the people you are in relationship with.
How to Trust – It’s Not Always Easy
Trust, real genuine authentic trust, is built and maintained over a lifetime. It’s not always easy to figure out how to trust, especially if you’ve been hurt. With these simple steps, my intention for you is that you can be well on your way.