Food for Thought

Trust is a powerful word and a powerful concept. It underlies every facet of our lives from how we feel about the world to how we feel about our relationships, and ourselves. What does it mean to trust? The dictionary defines trust as “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  Trust is a form of confidence and belief that our expectations for physical and emotional safety will be honored and respected by the person or institution in which we place our trust.

Trust is usually slow to develop and easy to injure. In the realm of infant and child development, the parent or caregiver’s response to the needs of the helpless and dependent child determines whether that child develops basic trust that the world is a good and safe place. Children whose needs repeatedly go unmet or who are treated badly by caregivers do not develop that sense of basic trust in others or in the world. This early conditioning sets the stage for a person’s overall orientation toward life and relationships. Trusting attitudes can be compromised by tragedy or interpersonal violations, but some degree of trust is essential for living in and navigating this world of ours. Fortunately, with positive experiences, fundamental distrust of people and things can change for the better.

Trust in relationships is built when the person or people we relate to are consistently kind, predictable, and respect our needs, whether the need is for maintaining confidentiality about personal disclosures,  honesty in business dealings, or handling differences and conflicts that arise between you. We do not need people to be entirely consistent or perfect to be trustworthy, but the balance of our interactions with someone needs to be strongly tilted toward trust-generating actions relative to trust-shaking interactions. Let us talk about our experiences with trust.

Questions to Consider:

  • Do you see yourself as a fundamentally trusting person? Why or why not?
  • Who do you trust in your life and what allows you to experience your relationship with this person as a trusting relationship?
  • Betrayal of trust is an exceptionally painful experience. Share briefly about an experience in which your trust was violated. Was trust ever able to be restored to the relationship?
  • Where else in your life do you experience trust? Do you trust the government, professional helpers, the benevolence of the Universe, God or your personal Higher Power, or other entities?
  • How much do you trust yourself? Share what self-trust means to you and how that has manifested in your life.

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