“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” - William Gibson
Trust is an interesting thing. People ask for it on a very regular basis. Almost as if they deserve it. Almost as if they deserve it because they haven’t betrayed you. Yet.
The car salesman. Trust him that he’s giving you a GREAT deal. The boyfriend/husband, trust him that he’s true blue and will never screw you. Over. And if he has screwed you over, and apologized, trust is your payment to him for the relationship to continue. The church. Trust that they have the answers, they have your best interest at heart, they have God’s cell phone number.
But do you know who really deserves it? You do. You deserve to trust yourself. I want to say that again. You deserve your trust. And the rest of the world needs to earn your trust. Yes, you can graciously offer your trust to those that your gut says it’s okay to offer it to. But it’s not required. It’s not the currency to prove that you’re a good person or even that you deserved to be trusted by them. But you, you deserve to trust yourself 100%. You are the one person who knows you the best.
I had a boyfriend who on the regular would bemoan the feeling he had that I didn’t trust him. I didn’t give him any reassurances that I did because he had proved in the past that he wasn’t trustworthy. Look at that word. Trust worthy. Worthy of trust. You have to earn it. I was trust worthy, he was not. I did not lie or manipulate, he did. I had some vague hope that he would stop being those things, but he didn’t, so eventually his lack of trustworthiness destroyed our relationship. I am still trustworthy even though I took my trust away from him. Do you see? You don’t have to GIVE your trust to someone in order to be a person who can be trusted. It’s not transactional like that.
I went to a church, many churches, for a long time. They all had one thing in common...the message that you had to have faith, you had to trust God. That came in a lot of different flavors. You had to believe that if you were poor or sick or mentally ill or in an abusive marriage, that God knew what he was doing to leave you there in that state. You didn’t try to escape his “perfect will”. You had to trust that if you prayed for your pastor, he (always a *he*) would hear from God and have living words to say. Words that you had to adhere to, had to trust were real and valuable. If you felt that the words were wrong for you, you were told that if you trusted enough, long enough, you would eventually see that those words would be good in your life. In other words, if you denied the voice inside of you and accepted the voice outside of you, you would eventually allow yourself to be brainwashed. The church told me that trusting myself was foolish. That I would be deceived by the devil if I tried to do that.
But in those situations, and in other situations, I had a voice within me telling me if I felt safe trusting that person or not. That’s the voice to trust. Many times that voice just felt that something was off. It wasn’t a life or death situation, so the voice was fairly quiet, but the problem was that I was told over and over that I shouldn’t listen to that voice. You can stop hearing it if you do that for a long time. That voice, YOUR voice, your intuitions, your rational thoughts, your deep feelings...you can trust those things.
The people, the messages, that hammer away at you, that demand your trust without earning it; the question there is why do they think they merit something as valuable as your trust? Why do you feel obligated to give it?
I’m not saying that you have to require people to earn your trust. There are those of us that grant trust initially prior to an “earning”, for many reasons. But in that scenario I encourage strongly to listen to your inner voice, to be aware of signs that indicate untrustworthiness, and be willing and ready to withdraw your trust if the situation warrants it. Give, yes. But also take back if and when it’s appropriate. That ex-boyfriend wanted to blame the end of the relationship on my unwillingness to trust him. He rather forgot that he set up that situation by not being worthy of my trust. You can take back whatever you give out. It’s yours. It’s your trust, it’s your gift to that other person for as long as it feels right to you. And while we all hope for years and years of solid beautiful trusting relationships, surrendering your intuitions, your attention and sensitivity to your inner voice to meet that goal is not worth it. Trust yourself.