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  • Writer's pictureMcKinley

Trust is More Than a Two-Way Street

“We are no longer children who are at the mercy of the adults in our lives. We are now the adults, and we have power to break the cycle for ourselves and the next generation." - Iris Chen

Trust is more than a two-way street. Trust is a 5-way intersection; on-ramps and off-ramps; a freeway with perpetual construction (I’m looking at you, I-5).

Trust can be transactional or reciprocal, both or something else. Some people treat trust like money, something that must first be earned and built over time through relationship. Others, often myself, extend trust with no strings attached until a reason manifests to pull it back. The initial extension of trust can be built upon, creating a foundation for greater reliance and reciprocity. And the more we trust ourselves, our instincts, we can sooner identify and respond to red flags.

Regardless of how trust has been extended between people - and often, between ourselves and the larger systems around us - it can be painful to have that trust broken. Our brains are wired for survival, wired for us to be aware of potential dangers around us. A safe person can quickly become perceived as a threat once trust has been damaged. Simultaneously, part of survival is also connection-seeking and love, for which our brains are also wired to seek out and find nourishment within.

A tweet from Duke Kwon @dukekwondc How to Apologize: express sorrow (I'm sorry), own guilt (I was wrong), name specific wrongs (I did X), name impact (I hurt you), no IFs (sorry if I), don't blameshift/defend (but you), no passive voice (sorry you were offended), make amends (what can I do)

We are often socialized that broken trust must be repaired. In some cases, this can certainly be a healthy pathway forward for everyone involved. At other times, it may be healthiest to pursue healing without repair. This is especially true in cases of abuse and toxic relationships (romantic or otherwise). Seek restoration if it can be a healthy pursuit, but you are not obligated to do so. You do not have to accept the apologies of others; nor do others have to accept apologies from you.

We owe ourselves to no one (as others do not owe themselves to us), perhaps most especially when our health is compromised as a result of a relationship. Trust yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself - even if you're still learning. It's never too late to walk down another street.

A white background with the text of Portia Nelson's Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

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