Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who said he had a hard time trusting people, and that he trusted less than five people in his life. To my surprise, my response to that was that as long as he trusted himself one hundred percent, there is no need to trust anyone else. What? Did I say that? I’m pretty sure I did not know that a minute ago.
But it’s true! Here’s why:
As a species we notoriously trust other people, places and things to be the sources of our happiness. A trust that may be lost in an instant through betrayal, inadequacy, different priorities, theft, misunderstandings, poor judgment, bad luck, intoxication, better options, and… What not?
When we place our trust in others we also place our happiness where it has no place. Our happiness can only be found within ourselves, not in other people, places or things. No matter how trustworthy you may deem them to be or how eager they may seem for the job.
Trusting others is giving them a responsibility they should never have. Trust me (pun intended) this is not coming from a place of having suffered countless disappointments which as a result has led me to the conclusion that people generally suck and cannot be trusted. This is coming from the realization that to entrust anyone else with the responsibility for my happiness is to assign them a job that they are not qualified for.
So why do we feel the need to trust others? What conditions need to be met for trust to be necessary, meaningful and of value? As I see it two conditions need to be met:
- What you are trusting the other person to do, or not do, needs to mean something to you. Trusting your significant other to only wear red socks on Mondays will probably not mean a lot to you, but trusting them to be faithful probably will.
- You must believe that the entrusted person has a willingness, or at least propensity, to act contrary to your wish. If they indeed have a wish to act in this way, is actually not very important. It is your belief in their inclination to act contrary to you wish that determines the degree of trust that is needed. Trusting your vegan spouse to not eat the bacon you put aside probably does not require a high degree of trust. Trusting the same person to not get messy with his hot co-worker may require more trust.
Trust is therefore a way to control others to behave in a certain way. –I need for you to behave in this and that way, otherwise I will be hurt and unhappy. Regardless of what the other person really wants to do in the given moment. Trusting someone instantly creates a contract where they need to act within certain limits to gain and remain deserving of your trust. And it goes both ways. When someone trusts you, they simultaneously place you under an obligation to fulfill a behavioral commitment to them. Otherwise you will lose the trust.
And we all know how difficult, if not impossible it is to regain trust in someone if it has been lost once. Or God forbid, twice.
I had never thought of trust between people in this way before. What used to be something noble and good, now seems like unhealthy clinging to a certain image of how you want this person to be. Often with complete disregard to what they actually would want for themselves.
I now believe that the answer to this endless tit-for-tat tyranny of trying to control other people’s behavior by instilling our trust is them, is to take trusting others out of the equation altogether.
Groundbreaking, isn’t it?
By removing the need to trust others we set the tone for an interaction that is totally free of all bondage and need for control. We set them free. I have also realized that trust and unconditional love cannot possibly coexist. They are an impossible combination.
If you trust someone you love, you have placed conditions on your relationship and it is therefore no longer unconditional. If they break your trust, then you withdraw your love. Consequently, if you love someone unconditionally the need to trust them is utterly meaningless because the love you feel for them is not dependent on their actions. It is only by abandoning all need to trust others that we can really love them as they are. We can allow them to be free of our judgment, and if it is mutual we also get to be exactly who we want to be in any given moment. That is unconditional love. That is freedom.
This is not because I see myself as a separate entity from other people, and therefore want as few obligations to them as possible. Quite the contrary! It is because I believe that we all are one, we are all spiritually connected but by instilling trust in others we try to create a physical manifestation of the bond we already share. Trusting others in this mindset then becomes meaningless.
But what about trusting your doctor or your bank? Or your politicians? (Sorry, that was a joke). Shouldn’t we still be putting our trust in them? After all it is our hard-earned money and our precious health we are talking about. Even here I don’t think you should let bankers, doctors or anyone else define your happiness. By all means, take precautions and seek out professionals who seem honest, well-intended and in integrity. But nonetheless you should not be putting your happiness in their hands either. Even the most immaculate doctor makes mistakes sometimes, no matter how much you trust her. Trust that you to the best of your abilities have chosen the right doctor and then place your trust in yourself to be able to tackle any situation that may follow. This is how we lose our attachment to the outcome of a situation and claim our absolute power over our lives.
I realize that it may seem that I am now against all forms of trust, but that is not what I mean.
I believe you should strive to trust yourself completely to always do your best and to act in integrity in a way that your actions lead to the highest possible outcome for everyone involved.
I believe you should trust that everything always is well, and that things are exactly as they need to be for your greater good in every moment of every day.
I believe you should trust the Universe, God, your higher power, pure positive energy, The Force or whatever you believe in to always have your back.
You are not supposed to trust other people.
You are supposed to love them.
Just as they are. And then trust that that is enough.