What is trust? How have we learned to define it? Is it really a concept that works? Trust this, don't trust that, this person is trustworthy, that person is not. You could liken it to using the crosswalk to safely cross the street, trust being the supposedly safe crossing through a potentially unsafe world. Yet how many of you readers have been hit by a car in this crosswalk of trust? I think I heard a resounding yes from everyone. Multiple yeses from most people. So then why is it that using trust seems to fail us at one point or another?

Let first breakdown what trust really is and how we use it. Trust is an attempt to prevent ourselves from being hurt. It is expressed in the belief that a particular person will act in a certain way so as not to hurt us. We set up expectations about that person's behavior. If that person acts in a way different than our beliefs and expectations, we are disappointed in them and feel hurt as a result of that disappointment.

Trust tends to fail because we do not take into account a number of factors. The first factor is that we all define what is right and what is acceptable in a slightly different way than the next person. Depending on a person's perspective, what is right for one person may be considered wrong by another, sometimes by only fractions of degrees. This is not a discussion about how to define right or wrong, but simply a pointer to the fact that we all think and perceive things slightly differently.

The second factor is that all people are capable of all behaviors, from the very worst to the very best. Most people will fall somewhere in the middle. This article focuses in that middle ground of interpersonal relationships. We expect other people to act the way we would act in a given situation (which in reality is not always complimentary). We do not factor in a persons fears or misguided belief systems that may cause them to act differently than what we would expect.

The third factor is that when we make the decision to "trust" someone, we give up our personal responsibility for ourselves. We subconsciously communicate that the other person now holds a certain part of our happiness in their hands and if they do not keep us safe, then it is their fault. We put on a set of blinders and only see what we want to see happen from that person. It becomes a form of control. If you keep me safe, I will love and accept you for your "good" behavior, if you do not keep me safe, then I will withdraw my love and acceptance for your "bad" behavior. Trust becomes a tool for conditional love.

The alternative to trust is to remain in a state of clarity and awareness in all situations. This starts with being able to see how your emotions affect your decisions and how they motivate your actions. You can develop a level of self honesty where you can identify your needs and fears and how they want to come out in your interactions with others.

The next step is to be clear and aware about the person you are dealing with. Are you seeing only what you want to see in order to have your needs filled? Look for the hidden emotions and thoughts that would normally cause you to want to trust someone. Identify the expectations that you would normally have of that person. Even if your mind tells you that you are right in your assessment, learn to question that feeling.

Rather than trust, be discerning in your own actions and words. Stop counting on the other person to be a certain way, it really is unrealistic. Rather than have expectations, be prepared for all possible outcomes. We are all humans who make mistakes or make decisions that have consequences that we don't expect or don't like.

If things don't turn out as you had expected, rather than judge yourself or the other person negatively, learn to see every adverse situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. Accept that you do not understand the other person's behavior and instead of moving into blame and judgment, focus on what you can say or do differently the next time to get different results. If you move into this type of awareness and self responsibility, you won't ever have to worry about trusting anyone again.

Ewa Schwarz

Latest Online Counseling

Author's Bio: 

Ewa Schwarz, B.A. is a counselor for Latest Online Counseling. She has been a counselor for 12 years. She provides intuitive counseling using a range of techniques from her education, training, and experience in Cognitive Therapy, Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, Shamanism, Tantra, Native American Studies, and Taoism.