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Who Can We Trust?

You choose who you allow into your life

Trust can be an issue for many who have experienced toxic people during childhood.

Blind Trust in Our Family

When we are born, tiny and vulnerable, we have blind trust in the people we encounter in our early youth : our parents, caregivers, friends. They are all that we know of the world, until time and experience gain us perspective.

We have faith in these people. What they say conditions us, it becomes the foundation upon which we build our cognitive, psychological and emotional functions, our self-esteem.

Sometimes these people are not quite wholesome... When this happens, the conditioning we receive does not make our lives easier : because we feel comfortable with the familiar, when we've been raised by people who hurt, betrayed or gave us a skewed view of the world, we are often drawn to similarly dysfunctional people in our adult lives.

This is why many of us go through abuse again, and again, and again — rudely awakened, bitterly disappointed, shockingly betrayed... not even realising that we are the ones who allow these people to be in our lives, choosing to be with them.

Fortunately, we can choose to stop this cycle by deprogramming ourselves from this attraction to toxic people. We can then learn another way of living, a healthy, happy, wholesome life, surrounded by trustworthy people.

The Trust Test

One way to do this is Martha Beck's Trust Test : think of someone important to you,

and rate your trust in that person on a scale of 1 to 5 — on this scale, 1 equals the lowest possible trust, and 5 equals the highest possible trust.

Then, evaluate this person by recalling your observations of his/her behaviour. The following six questions are designed to quantify the trustworthiness of people in your life.


YES - Questions

If Person X is completely trustworthy, you will answer "yes" to all three.

  • Does Person X usually show up on time?

  • When Person X says something is going to happen, does it usually happen?

  • When you hear Person X describing an event, and then get more information about that event : does the new information usually match Person X's description?


NO - Questions

If Person X deserves your trust, the answer to all three will be "no".

  • Have you ever witnessed Person X lying to someone, or assuming you'll help deceive a third person?

  • Does Person X sometimes withhold information, in order to make things go more smoothly or to avoid conflict?

  • Have you ever witnessed Person X doing something (lying, cheating, being unkind) that s/he would condemn if another person did it?


These questions might seem trivial, but as the saying goes :

The Way We Do Anything Is The Way We Do Everything

If Person X rated more than one "no" on the first three questions and more than one "yes" on the second three, they don't warrant total trust at present.

If you trust someone who failed all six questions, you need some readjustments — you don't have to change Person X (you can't), but you do need to take a good look at your patterns of trust.

And if you're rationalising Person X's behaviour by "But he means well..." or, "It's not her fault, she had a terrible childhood..." be aware that these are small lies that we use to comfort ourselves. Lying to yourself is a whole lot more damaging than Person X's lying to you!

In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says :

The Master trusts people who are trustworthy.

She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy.

This is true trust.

What does it mean, to trust people who aren't trustworthy?

Well, we can depend on them to do what they usually do : if someone in your life perpetually fails to keep promises, tell the truth, quit drinking, or show compassion, this is exactly what you can depend on them to keep doing.

And people who consistently do their best, whose stories check out against your own observations, can be trusted to stay relatively honest and stable.

When you become aware that you choose who you allow into your own life, transformation begins — and miracles are known to happen.

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