Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Trust… Fragile or Flexible?

I have been cautiously working with Trust.  Sometimes Trust is broken in big ways; infidelity, lying, stealing and abuse, and there is no doubt that when that happens most of us will walk away doesn’t matter what the other party has to say.  However most of the time trust is just slowly eroded until the thing that you trusted someone to do is just a shadow of the original agreement.

Anyone that knows me knows that broken trust has always been the one area where I have built walls around my heart.  Seems I can forgive almost anything but betrayal of trust.  There are a couple of really good reasons for that; the fact that people have often not lived up to their word and my perception, and therein lays the biggest issue, my PERCEPTION of their word and their intent.

How often have you thought that you had an agreement on a particular issue, only to find out that the other party didn’t see it as an agreement even though you gave them your bottom line, which they agreed to?  How many times have you been surprised by someone’s bending of the rules based on historical information that you might not even be privy to?  Interesting isn’t it?

Now, what is typically your response to broken trust when the rules are just bent or an agreement is “tweaked”? I know mine is to reassess and decide if my bottom line should move and if I can give a little based on the historical information I might now have etc. etc.  Either way what I am allowing for is the erosion of my trust and the sacrifice my integrity.   It is a clear message that my bottom line and any that follow is only a suggestion, not a bottom line at all and can be violated at any time with no consequences.  Pretty back and white… right?  Did you feel good in your body when you read that paragraph?  Probably not; because it comes across as angry, self-righteous, rigid and you most likely held your breath subconsciously.

What I know is that in my experience the world is not black or white but shades of grey.  Was the agreement really broken or was my perception of the agreement broken?  I promise you it will always be your perception that was broken.  Bending of a bottom line could be a price worth paying but the decision needs to be made on a case by case basis.  The consequences of all this “broken” trust becomes quite a stressor on all your relationships.

So, what to do?  Perhaps we should lighten up and look at agreements and trust in a different way:

The first thing to recognize is that you have a unique relationship with the concept of trust because it is based on your perception.  Your perception of the world is based on your moral values and beliefs, and these are created by your upbringing, experiences and the way you handle stress.  When you see it in that light it is obvious that no-one else will see things the way you do.  It is therefore illogical that you hold them to your standards and draw immovable lines.  What you can do is discuss the grey area.  Negotiate the terms that can move and the ones that can’t.   For me a bottom line that is unbendable is abuse, emotional or otherwise – if that trust is broken I walk away.  All other matters of trust I am prepared to negotiate, give a little, take a little to create a win-win.  If it becomes a lose-win for either party boundaries have been violated in which case it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship as a whole.

The second thing to recognize is that you can’t make people see or do things the way you do.  Take a romantic relationship as an example, often the reason you fell in love in the first place is because the person is different from you and gives you an opportunity to see the world through a different filter. The biggest and most dangerous phenomenon in today’s society in my opinion is that people are no longer allowed to disagree.  Disagreement is seen as “you don’t love me” which is nonsense.  Allow people to be themselves.  Don’t try to change them, change your perception of who they ought to be to who they are.  If they have habits that worry or annoy you, learn to hold space for yourself.  If no harm is being done adjust.  Being rigid and seeing only your way as the good or right way puts one person in control and causes huge stress for both parties, it is a lose-lose.  The person trying to live up to the rigid standards feel their self-worth being stripped away and the person holding the other to those standards feels anger and stress.  Both of these reactions lead to depression, anxiety and acting out; the oppressed in pushing boundaries and the oppressor in explosive anger and volatility. 

Change your relationship with integrity.  To be clear negotiating doesn’t mean you are sacrificing your integrity.  Integrity is not attached to trust as so many believe it to be.  Integrity is your personal bottom line and once again unique.  It is your values and belief systems that YOU won’t violate and has nothing what so ever to do with anything or anyone external.  You can’t force your values and beliefs (integrity) down someone else’s throat.

Lastly change trust to faith.  If you have made agreements have faith that the other person will keep those agreements to the best of their ability.  As people change and grow when feeling supported and loved so will their ability to hold agreements.  Give them and yourself the necessary space to breathe and grow into new ways of being.   Let go of expectations and relax, most of the things we get hung up on aren’t as important as we think anyway…

Love & Light