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Note:  Many of us have a hard time trusting others.  If we're children of parents
with addictive behaviors (alcoholics, gamblers, etc.) or if we've been betrayed
by a spouse or parent or sibling or other loved one, we find it very difficult
to trust others and to trust life.  That situation will be covered on the "mistrust" page.

It honestly goes against my idealistic nature to put trust here as an obstacle to living life fully.  After all, isn't trust something that we all should have?  Doesn't the lack of trust lead to suspicion and cynicism?  Don't we lose a great deal of our so-called innocence when we reject trust?  Well, yes and no to all of those questions.

Trust is a wonderful ideal, but what concerns me is the tendency among many people to put too much trust in other people, or trust in the wrong people.  Both actions lead to extremely negative results that can affect one's own self-esteem and perspective of life.  Another damaging aspect of trust is how we feel about ourselves and our lives after our trust has been betrayed.  This idea may fit better on a page called "betrayal," but betrayal is something that others do to us, not something that we have control over.  We have control over the level of trust we put in someone and over the way we react when that trust has been betrayed.

When we entrust too much to another person, we face several risks.  First of all, we may become too dependent on that other person, and we may start to feel a diminished sense of trust in ourselves.  We've put such a huge part of our own burden on someone else that we may lose our own ability to deal with that burden.  What happens if that other person leaves?  What do we do then?  We either have to pick up everything where it was left, or we have to shift our trust to someone else, who may or may not deserve to have it, which is a very stressful situation.

Entrusting too much to another person also puts a huge burden on that other person, and he or she may start to feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of another person's burdens.  If that happens, it will become difficult for that person to continue to carry so much trust, and he or she may end up betraying or trust or rejecting it completely.  In any case, as soon as our trust passes a certain level, it becomes a burden to someone else.  Such a burden is very easy to reject or betray, especially as time wears on.  We end up setting ourselves up for huge problems.

More importantly, though, as an obstacle to a happy life, putting our trust in the wrong people can be quite devastating.  As an example, we recently were in the market for a new car.  We checked out a few on-line car markets, and two days later got a phone call from a local dealer that had been notified an on-line market that we were interested in purchasing a car.  We told the salesman that we wanted only to look, and he said fine, come on in.  So we went.

Of course, not too many people trust car salespeople to begin with, but I hate blindly agreeing with stereotypes, and I wanted to trust him.  But this guy proved that the stereotype is often an earned one.  He did everything to build trust, giving us the keys and telling us to take our time, "proving" his trust in us.  He asked about the family and tried to be real personal.  Within an hour, though, he had a contract written up and wanted us to sign on the bottom line.  We refused, and he told us that another salesperson had a customer who was interested in the same vehicle, and it might not be there in a couple of days.  We left.  Two weeks later, we drove by the lot in the new car we had bought elsewhere and saw the other car still there.  We also found out later that he had overstated the amount of the trade-in allowance they had given, virtually lying about the amounts.  We ended up paying $80 a month less for the same car with someone who sat down with us, explained all the numbers and options, and allowed us to take our time.

If we had trusted the first man, we would have been stuck with payments that were far too high for us.  We also would have been ripped off, and the car would have become something different to us, more of an overpriced problem than the reliable vehicle that we needed.

But that's a very typical example.  What happens when we trust a best friend to keep a secret for us, and that best friend tells others what we didn't want them to tell?  And if we trust someone to do something for us while we're on vacation, and that someone doesn't do what we asked?  Or what about trusting someone to show up on time and have them get there an hour late, ruining an afternoon or evening, because now the place you wanted to go to is far too crowded to get into?

None of these are unrealistic situations, but in each case, we're the ones who now have to deal with unpleasant situations because we've entrusted something important to someone else.  We face anger, resentment, frustration, and many other negative feelings simply because of another's actions.  It's very hard not to take such problems personally, too, and once we do that, it's pretty much a given that we're going to be down or angry for a while.

So what do we do?  Basically, there's only one workable response to someone who's violated our trust:  forgiveness.  But we also have to take a lesson from the situation, and learn that we need to be very careful where we put our trust, for as soon as we put our trust in another, we set ourselves up for potential disappointment and harm.  We have to trust, for if we don't, we become callous, cold, cynical individuals.  But we have to trust the right people, and we have to entrust the right things to them.  It's always our call, even though we later may want to shift the blame to the other person.



You may be deceived if you trust too much,
but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.

Frank Crane


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Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

William Shakespeare

Those who have trusted where they ought not
will surely mistrust where they ought not.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way
to make people trustworthy is to trust them; and the surest way to
make them untrustworthy is to distrust them and show your mistrust.

Henry J. Stimson


One day he was repairing the light fixture in the bathroom.  He asked me
to hold one of his hands and to grip the faucet of the bathtub with
my other hand.  I did this.  Then he licked the index finger of his
free hand and stuck it up into the empty socket where the light bulb
had been.  As the electricity passed through him and into me and through me
and was grounded in the faucet of the bathtub, my father kept saying,
“Pal, I won’t hurt you.  I won’t hurt you.”  If I had let go of the faucet,
both of us would have died.  If I had let go of his hand, he would have died.

James Allen McPherson


Remember always that there are two things which are more utterly
incompatible even than oil and water, and these two are
trust and worry.  Can you call it trust, when you have given the
saving and keeping of your soul into the hands of God, if day
after day you are spending hours of anxious thought and
questionings about the matter?  When believers really trust
anything, they cease to worry about the thing they have trusted.

Hannah Whitall Smith

Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong.
With trust, words become life itself.

John Harold

Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what
you feel.  And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you
must feel that you can trust them, too--even when you’re
in the dark.  Even when you’re falling.

Morrie Schwartz
Tuesdays With Morrie



A tree says:  My strength is trust.  I know nothing about my fathers,
I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring
out of me.  I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care
for nothing else.  I trust that God is in me.  I trust that
my labor is holy.  Out of this trust I live.

Hermann Hesse


The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust,
and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams.

Elizabeth Gilbert


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Because getting our head and heart around a concept as big as trust is difficult, and because general conversations on the theme of "I don't trust you" are rarely productive, I dug into the concept to better understand what we're really talking about when we say trust.

Seven elements of trust emerged from the data as useful in both trusting others and trusting ourselves.  I use the acronym BRAVING for the elements.

I love using BRAVING as a wilderness checklist because it reminds me that trusting myself or other people is a vulnerable and courageous process. . . .


Boundaries--You respect my boundaries, and when you're not clear about what's okay and not okay, you ask.  You're willing to say no.

Reliability--You do what you say you'll do.  This means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don't overpromise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

Accountability--You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

Vault--You don't share information or experiences that are not yours to share.  I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you're not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

Integrity--You choose courage over comfort.  You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy.  And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Nonjudgment--I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need.  We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

Generosity--You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Brené Brown
Braving the Wilderness


When Walker first steps onto the road, he has no thoughts, no history, no memories, and no clothes. As he travels and meets people and learns from them, he comes to know more about life, living, and becoming the person he's meant to be. Walker is a parable for all of us who wonder what might be the purpose of life, why bad things happen with almost as much regularity as good things, and how we can learn from the bad examples and experiences in our lives as much as we can learn from the good things. Tom Walsh's parable is a story of the ages, a timeless exploration of ideas and thoughts that all of us wonder about, a sincere and heartfelt portrait of a man who has no past and no future, but who learns to make the most of each precious present moment as it comes.



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