The Question of Trust

"A man who never trusts himself never trusts anyone."
Paul De Gondi, Cardinal De Retz (1613-1679) 
If you can’t trust people, how can you be close to them? If you can’t trust a person you love, how can you achieve intimacy? If you can’t trust yourself, how can you trust anyone else?

Trust is built through experience. It is lost through experience. Some people, we learn, are not worthy of trust. When we have been treated poorly, we come to that conclusion. The problem is that sometimes we generalize that realization, so that our lack of trust includes whole classes of beings that may not deserve our mistrust.

If a small child is bitten by a dog, he or she may never again trust dogs. If that child were mistreated by a parent, he or she might never trust people of the parent’s gender, or might not trust people in general, regardless of gender.

When we have failed to meet expectations, we may lose trust in ourselves. If we can’t trust ourselves, it is doubtful that we can trust anyone else. When life doesn’t seem to be working out according to expectations, we may lose faith and trust in God as well.

The trouble with all this not trusting is that we come to feel alienated. The other problem is that our lack of trust is built on assumptions that may be incorrect, and therefore we live in a state of illusion that keeps us off balance, worried, and alone. A pretty good goal for life is to reduce the amount of illusion that influences us. So let’s get to work on this trust issue.


Think about these things. Take your time:

Who do you trust?

Who do you not trust?

Do you generally mistrust men?

Do you trust your father?

Do you generally mistrust women?

Do you trust your mother?

Do you mistrust people of a different race?

Poor people?

Rich people?

Religious groups?

Do you trust people in authority less than most people do?

If you have trouble working with the concept of trust, look at the question of how you feel you have been betrayed in your life.

Where you have identified a lack of trust on your part, look at the belief behind it. Ask yourself what you know about the people you don’t trust. Say to yourself, for instance, “What I know about men is that…” and fill in the blank. Repeat the statement several times to see what else comes up.

Now question those beliefs. What is the experience behind the beliefs? Do they stand up under scrutiny? Would another reasonable person come to the same conclusion? Would a spiritually enlightened, all knowing being have the same conclusion?

Imagine for a moment that you are infinitely wise and compassionate. What does that do to your trust level?

How well do you trust yourself? Likely there are some areas where you trust yourself more than others. How well do you trust yourself in the areas of:

Self care?
Are there areas in your life where your behavior seems out of control?

What would you need to do in order to gain trust for yourself in the problem areas?

Do you trust in God? Do you not trust or not believe in God because somehow God failed your expectations?
Was the error on God’s part or was it your expectations?

Assuming that the true nature of God is beyond human comprehension through rational thought, how might you want to adjust your expectations?

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© 2002 Tom Barrett