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Each time we meet someone new, it’s packaged with a question and subsequent search for the answer: Are you trustworthy? When we’re feeling good about something, a part of us might wonder, When are things going to wrong? In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I talk about trust and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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Some nuggets from the episode

  • Some of us turn into Columbo or Jessica Fletcher when we either know that something is wrong, but haven’t taken action yet, or when things are okay but we’ve already decided that something will go wrong. We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  • If someone has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy and we’re still there gathering more evidence, we’re not trusting ourselves. Exactly how much evidence do you need to gather before you’ll trust yourself to recognise that you don’t trust this person and the situation?

Trust is one of those things where if you have to ask whether you can trust someone, you already have your answer.

  • Knowing that we don’t trust someone yet doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re untrustworthy. It might simply mean that we don’t have enough experience of them yet. But there are instances when lack of trust reflects something else: they either haven’t earned our trust based over time and experience, or they are being trustworthy but it’s made little or no difference to us. 
  • Medium- to long-term trust requires depth and intimacy.
  • Part of our stress with trust comes from trying to predict the future. We might feel okay now, but we want to know what we’re going to get back further down the line.
  • Trust exposes us to risk. We’re exposed to the possibility of disappointment and danger, but we’re also exposed to the possibility of joy.
  • When we don’t know someone very well but we want/need something from them, it makes us jittery because of what seems like the balance of power and the threat of disappointment.

The exchange of faith that is trust means trusting that the other party values building a long-term relationship over screwing us over in the short term. 

  • Trust often causes us to think about ourselves and what we think that can ‘make’ others do. It’s like I know what kind of person I am. What kind of person are you? I see what you’re like now, but are you still going to be like this next week, next month, next year, or in ten years? You have something that I need/want, and if you don’t prove to be trustworthy, you’ll stand in the way of me getting it.
  • Trust means taking a gamble on ourselves, so it reflects the health and wealth of our relationship with us. 
  • Much of our confusion about trust comes from misunderstanding the notion of ‘earning trust’. Yes, we shouldn’t trust people willy-nilly. Someone does need to earn our trust. But that is about them demonstrating their character over time. Many people misconstrue the ‘earning’ part and think that because they themselves are trustworthy and are pleasing, sacrificing, etc., that they’ve earned the right to someone being more trustworthy even if it’s not their character.

Feeling as if we’ve been burned one too many times decimates our relationship with trust. We lose faith in our judgement skills.

  • If we’re guarded and distrusting, that’s a wall, not a boundary. Walls block; boundaries filter.
  • If we trust more of the things that reflect who we are as a person, we experience more trust. We need to stick to our values and boundaries.
  • Part of changing our relationship with trust and ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ is acknowledging where we learned to anticipate negative outcomes. Which experiences in our past gave us the impression that bad always follows good? Where did we learn to become fearful of being ‘too happy’?

Links mentioned

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