For emotionally sensitive people, trusting someone is often a huge challenge.  Everyday, in one way or another, you probably ask yourself if you can trust different people. Trust plays a central role in your relationships, your business decisions, choices you make about your health, how you love, and how you invest your money.  The need to trust is uncomfortable and scary. It points out that you are vulnerable. You may fear being rejected or judged. Yet you can’t get the outcomes you want in life and meet your needs without trust. You need the cooperation of others. Your pattern of trusting or not trusting others may make relationships and cooperation more difficult.

Trust No One.  Perhaps you’ve decided to never ask for help or rely on others for anything. You doubt the information others give you and check the facts on every decision. You never let yourself believe that you can count on someone else. You don’t want to trust for fear of being hurt and let down. While you may see this as protecting yourself, in the long run this approach doesn’t work well in terms of getting what you want out of life. Not taking any risks personally or in your career has negative results for most people. Because we are dependent on others, and because friendships and family relationships are a big part of contentment in life, not trusting others brings you pain as well. When you don’t trust, it is not possible to have close, supportive relationships.

Trust Everyone.  The problem with trusting everyone is that you will likely be hurt and perhaps even be harmed physically, emotionally and/or financially.  Trusting everyone means you will be taken advantage of by those who have their own agenda and needs that aren’t the same as yours. When other people’s needs are not in line with yours, they may act in their own best interests, particularly if they believe they won’t get caught.   Perhaps you take this approach in an effort to be accepted or to avoid aggression, believing if you are no threat others will not harm you. Trusting everyone doesn’t work.

Be Suspicious But Engage Fully Anyway.  Perhaps you say you don’t trust and you keep in mind that others could betray you. At the same time you engage in the relationship and behave as if you trust the other person. When you find out the person is untrustworthy, you say you knew it all along.  The problem is that you still must deal with the consequences of acting as if you trusted.

Trustworthiness is not a black or white characteristic. It would be easier if some people were trustworthy and others weren’t and your job was to determine the difference. While some depend on reputation to determine whether someone can be trusted, this is not the best option.  This implies that trust is part of integrity. In truth, human morality is quite variable. Whether you can trust someone, including yourself, depends on the situation. Trustworthiness fluctuates.

Taking a look at how you decide to trust is an important first step in learning how to trust in more effective ways.  More facts about trust will be in the next post.

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