Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Thoughts about Trust

by Miki Kashtan

Trust, like safety, runs deep. When we don’t experience trust, as when we don’t experience safety, we shut down, protect, and hide our vulnerability. We also, in both cases, tend to place responsibility for our experience on the outside. It is extraordinarily challenging, when we don’t experience trust, to recognize it as our experience instead of assuming that whoever we are not trusting is simply not trustworthy. It is similarly difficult, when our experience tells us that we are not safe, to step outside of the conviction that “it” is unsafe to be where we are.

Before proceeding much further, I want to make it clear here that I am talking about trust and safety as they relate to the emotional and social aspects of life, and I am not addressing situations in which physical safety is at risk. Only a rare few of us are able to maintain choice and presence in the face of physical danger. As inspiring as such stories are, they are not within reach of most of us, and I am therefore choosing to exclude physical safety from what I am focusing on. That said, I nonetheless want to stress that my readings so far in life have led me to believe that the human possibility exists that even when what’s at stake is our physical safety, accepting our vulnerability and our ultimate inability to control ourselves or the environment, we often have more ability to transform our inner experience and to affect our outer environment.

From Trusting People to Trusting in Life

Some people are slow to develop trust. They check out new people for a while before lowering their guards and trusting them. Whether by grace or naïveté, my own responses have been different. I usually have a great deal of ease trusting people when I first meet them. I extend my heart, expect the best, get excited about possibilities, and open up fully.

Some people lose trust with someone instantaneously and have an extremely difficult time restoring it. I’ve had chilling experiences with people, times when I did something that affected another person negatively, and that was the end of any communication between us. Or times when one false move resulted in such profound loss of trust toward me that I couldn’t imagine what I could do to restore trust, ever. A distance descended on the relationship, either in the form of coldness, or in the form of avoidance of meaningful engagement, keeping things on a safe surface. I’ve also had experiences when people responded in dramatically different ways, and approached me to engage in order to restore trust, which we were then able to do.