Trust

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From business, to families and other relationships, we all rely on networks of trust.  Photo by Brittany Simuangco on Unsplash
There are so many kinds of trust.  We talk about it as if there is only one, but I suspect we mean a lot of different things with just the one word.

LEGAL TRUSTS

In business, limited companies are often used as vehicles.  And a company is, literally, a trust.  In this instance, the word trust is used to denote a framework, with its own rules of behaviour, in which several investors can get together.

It is important that those investors can trust each other.  This is a practical issue – each investor needs to be able to go about their life without spending every minute of every day worrying about what is happening to their investment.  The investors, or shareholders, appoint a board of directors, but retain the right to remove them if those directors don’t act in the trust’s best interests.

Every year, the directors report to the shareholders about their care of the trust, informing them of what has happened, what may happen in future, and what they are doing to mitigate any risks they see.

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS

In personal lives, too, we all choose to trust each other.  Some people we only trust a little.  We choose not to embark on big projects with them, because, well, what would be the point?  If life becomes unpredictable and chaotic, where is the sense in putting our effort and resources into that relationship?  If it becomes a black hole, into which we pour ourselves, but nothing ever comes out, then we may get a sense of waste, and cease to be interested in making an effort.

Some people we trust more.  We choose to do things with them, and we learn through repetition that our effort and resources are not wasted.  Somehow, the good energy stays around, and is put to good use.

Some people we trust even more than that.  We choose to do an awful lot of things with them.  This can feel dangerous.  Especially if we have a little bit of history where people haven’t respected that trust, where our efforts have gone down the drain.

SELF-TRUST AND OTHER TRUST

At a deeper level, when relationships are established, there are still further roles for trust.

In particular, in any role we perform for others, there come times when we ask ourselves whether we are up to the challenge.  If other people have put their faith in us, we may question whether we are predictable enough human beings to discipline our own nature to behave as it is hoped we’ll behave.

If we can’t face the issue of self-trust, then we will project it onto others, and start behaving as though everyone else is doing something wrong.  Really, inside, we are worried about ourselves; but we pretend that it is all about the other.  Not everyone can take the burden of being trustworthy.  It takes a lot of courage, a lot of consistency, and a lot of ability to accept suffering if necessary.

But if we can do it – if we can know ourselves well enough to stay still and control our behaviour – then acts of self-trust may become more possible.  This enables us to walk alone if necessary, and to deal with others on more equal terms.

There still remains the problem of whether and how much to trust others, but at least we have a firm starting point in the form of being able to know and control ourselves.

AN EXERCISE

Maybe take a little time to ponder the different forms of trust at play in your own life.

What do you invest your efforts in?  Whom do you appoint to take care of your resources – your time, your mind, your heart, your money, your life?

Are you any good at making judgements as to whom to trust?  Do you watch others to check that they are trustworthy?  Are you, in contrast, addicted to the excitement of unpredictability?  If so, is this because you find it hard to provide that adventure for yourself?  Adventure is important, but so is staying safe enough to live another day and carry on whatever work you choose to do.

Do you trust yourself, in the sense of facing your own inadequacies and dealing with them in a way you respect?  And, once you have done that, are you managing your closeness to others, so that your trust in them is proportionate to the tasks that you want to complete together?

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SUMMARY

Trust is a complex thing, and covers many types of activity, from the rush of business to the quiet of personal lives.

We all have to rely on networks of support.  Those who fail to be trustworthy in small things, we find it hard to trust in bigger things.

And with the really big things, trust can be painful, especially if we have been hurt before.  Here, we must take extra care to see that we manage our own expectations of ourselves, and our behaviour.

All we can do, really, is to work hard to keep our own house in order, in a way that commands our own self-respect.  Then, once that is done, we can attend to the equally difficult task of communicating faithfully, and matching our friendships to the activities and journeys we believe in, and want to undertake.

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