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T is for Trust

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey

What is trust?

Trust is a conviction that somebody or something can be relied upon or a situation will turn out right. Trust is a bit like faith in that a person places complete confidence and reliance in themselves, another person or the situation turning out for the best (whereas faith is more a spiritual concept; putting one’s faith in one being).

“Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.” Santosh Kalwar

Trust can be concerned with ourselves or others. When we have trust we have confidence and freedom.

So how do we have trust in ourselves or others?

Trust in ourselves

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I think that we can only have trust in ourselves if we have self-awareness and have learnt to listen to our intuition.

When we are accurately aware of our strengths and weakness we can make informed choices and decisions; we are aware of things that might trip us up and we can make plans to create intentional steps and habits, through e.g. the practice of Kaizen, in full knowledge of our limits, and also know when we need to ask for help or guidance to enable us to make progress in the right direction.

“You must train your intuition – you must trust the small voice inside you which tells you exactly what to say, what to decide.” Ingrid Bergman

Intuition cannot be relied on entirely though. In his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ Daniel Kahneman, (psychologist) explains how our behaviour is determined by the two systems of the mind that drive the way we think.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. These two systems shape our judgments and decisions and impact the way we think and respond; they explain the difficulties we have predicting, making plans and how we need to be aware of cognitive biases and use different techniques to circumvent them.

Daniel Kahneman illustrates how our brain is ‘lazy’ and how we don’t use the full power of intelligence available to us. Our minds are riddled with biases leading to poor decision making which means we cannot always trust our intuition and therefore we should learn how we can tap into the benefits of ‘slow thinking’.

When trusting ourselves it is is important to be aware that our memories can’t always be trusted. It has been shown that up to 50% of memories in your head are not accurate and didn’t happen as you remember them. The Rob Dial Podcast ‘Are any of your memories real?’ (962) looks at the three things that happen to your brain when you recall a memory and relate a story. They are very useful to know when thinking about the power we give to our past and how memories affect our relationship with others and ourselves.

Trust in others

“Trust is like a vase, once it’s broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be same again.” Walter Anderson

Trust in others is difficult. It seems to me that when we make assumptions or have expectations of others (often without their knowledge) then we can end up very disappointed and feel like they have ‘let us down’ when in fact all the ‘drama’ has been created in our head by our own thoughts.

“Don’t trust people who tell you other people’s secrets.” Dan Howell

Obviously it is important to surround ourselves with people of integrity who are consistent and will not abuse our vulnerability; who seek to understand us rather than to judge and who generally uplift us and want the best for us.

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” Albert Einstein

I remember listening to a podcast once which suggested that you can still trust people you don’t like if they have integrity which made me stop and think. People may have different values to you, or be really annoying but if they have personal integrity it is possible to rely and trust them to act according to their beliefs.

So how can we be trustworthy towards others?

“Keep your promises and be consistent. Be the kind of person others can trust.”

Roy T. Bennett

WYSIWYG people refers to those who are real, present and sincere without pretensions. Usually these people are those who have spent time to get to know themselves and their ‘truth’ and their actions are consistent with their beliefs. Living a WYSIWYG life, where you have integrity and remain true to yourself is also good for your mental and physical health because you do not waste time and energy trying to portray something you are not. Acting against our true nature sets up a dissonance that can be detrimental to our health at many levels etc. Whenever we compromise what we know is the right thing to do for the sake of what is expedient in the moment, there is always an unseen toll on us that often far outweighs the benefit derived from any apparent immediate gain.

"Without integrity, nothing works”

Integrity and honesty are essential in our relationships with others in order for there to be trust and connection.

“Trust: The reputation of a thousand years may be undermined by the conduct of one hour” Japanese Proverb

Integrity is much easier kept than recovered. It takes a lot of time to rebuild trust and gain forgiveness once trust is broken. It is always important to examine the integrity of our own actions particularly when we find ourselves making justifications to reconcile with our conscience. It’s easy to do the right thing when the right thing doesn’t cost or inconvenience us in any significant way. It’s not so easy when it requires giving up something that we want or value or knocks our ego.

Our perspective on life comes from our personal point of view which is shaped by many things including our life experiences, our values, our relationships, our current state of mind and the assumptions that we bring to a situation.

"Don’t trust everything you see, even salt looks like sugar!"

It is all to easy to read something into a situation that is not there or make an assumption rather than ask, and seek to understand. Lack of effort and lack of communication can worsen a situation because instead of actually knowing how another person is feeling, or why they did or said something (i.e. their intention) it is easier to make superficial judgements, take things personally and simply assume.

We don’t become a trustworthy person just because we say that we are. Being a trustworthy person involves intentional choices and conscious habits and being aware of our strengths and weaknesses. Trust is rarely absolute, in reality it is likely to be restricted to particular situations or according to the scenario you find yourself in and will be based on your or another person’s attributes e.g. : You may trust someone to have your back, or do some basic task but just because you trust someone you wouldn’t trust them to do something that is not within their skill base. We may say 'I would trust them with my life' but we don't really mean it (unless perhaps you can count a skilled surgeon among your friends!)

It takes commitment, deliberate determination and the conscious choice for our actions to match our words to live an honest life with integrity. We can not live lives of integrity part-time. We can't choose to do all of the right things some of the time or some of the right things all of the time. Acting with integrity requires a consistent commitment to doing all of the right things all of the time. Compromising integrity in any way compromises our integrity as a whole. We have to be accountable in all areas of our life to trust ourselves and to have the trust of others.

Some questions to think about/or discuss below:

What does trust mean to you ?

Do you think that you are a trustworthy person ?

Do you surround yourself with trustworthy friends ?

How do you respond when someone ‘breaks your trust’ ?

If you want to reflect more on this subject, here are some links to get you started:

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