A friend of mine, Shel Israel, along with Porter Gale, is writing a book on “Resurrecting Trust.” This is targeted at the business community, which has certainly been shaken up and disrupted by our dear friend, the internet. Many companies, aka brands, have been confronted with the ability of a few disgruntled customers to create all sorts of havoc and it is increasingly difficult to hide behind deceptive business practices and ever intrusive marketing. Further, many brands are being exposed as far less consumer-friendly than many had hoped. I am all in favor of efforts to bring more integrity and transparency to business transactions.
So, why you may be asking, am I addressing the topic here, on my personal blog that focuses on consciousness and mindfulness? Because I think a companion topic is relevant, not for brands but for you and me. Perhaps we the consumers can lead rather than follow, can learn to trust ourselves instead of waiting for others to act trustworthy.
I want to make the case that TRUST is an Inside Job.
Acting from integrity and honesty is one part of a relationship. The other part is waking up to trusting yourself to be able to respond to whatever life dishes up. The more you depend on others to create a safe world for you, the less you develop your own inner guidance and strength. I believe we create more functional and satisfying relationships when people are encouraged to act from integrity AND when people are encouraged to rely on themselves for their own well-being and happiness. Looking for trust? Grab a mirror and indulge yourself. It’s right there in front of you.
Too often, I see stories and updates on social networks where blame is cast just about everywhere except on oneself. People want others to imagine every possible negative use or outcome, build in prevention schemes, and promise perfection. People want to sue others for things “they should have known about.” Yet when one of us makes a mistake, “it was just human nature” or it was understandable given X, Y, and Z. This is a major energy discrepancy. I think this off-loading of “trust” onto others only leads to sillier regulations designed not to make a product or service experience enhanced for the customer, but to guard against lawsuits. It both worsens the product and weakens us.
This is even more intense when it comes to personal relationships. “Can s/he be trusted?”
To cut to the chase, if you know who you are and you trust yourself, then you are good to go. Everything else becomes a negotiation. As an adult, you are not dependent on the good will of others.
When you put your trust out there, in a company, in a product, in a relationship, in another person, even in an idea:
You abandon a piece of your consciousness.
You surrender some of your authority and your power.
You slow down the reaction time to unexpected events.
You stop collecting data that can allow you to respond closer to real time.
Instead, you end up with another Homer Simpson, “Doh!” moment — be it a day, a week, a month, or a marriage, later.
I am all for building awareness of accountability and holding others responsible for their agreements. A big fan in fact. But I am not a fan of of blaming others for my problems. Once I discovered that the only person I really need or want to trust, is me, I became much clearer in my communication and much more realistic in my expectations. It’s easier for me to know what the “deal-breakers” are and how to build in escape clauses for me if someone fails on their side.
Likewise, it is easier for me to make cleaner and clearer promises to those with whom I interact. I avoid false hype as much as possible. I believe in marketing by attraction not promotion. I have a deep belief in my ability to respond to whatever life throws at me. And I am not afraid (well, I am a lot less afraid) to speak up when an agreement is starting to fall apart. It’s getting easier to discern understandable oversights from deliberate mischief.
Have you, like me, done a bad deal because some part of you ignored the downsides and/or over-inflated the upsides?
Well when that happens, I can blame the other party for not being trustworthy or I can look at how I didn’t trust myself to take the time (or whatever) to set it up on better terms for me. That doesn’t change the other party’s shortcomings — but it does open up a world of possibility for me to re-build the situation. Understanding that my safety, my worth, and my life do not depend on anyone else, is one of the most liberating and empowering things I have started learning over the past decade. Self-trust grows automatically from the willingness to walk away from any deal that does not meet my terms.
Even though it feels like we are more interconnected than ever, you are far less dependent on others than you may think. Your true feelings of safety can be found by looking in the mirror and not to others. When you are awake and looking straight ahead, you are able to Be Here Now. If you are willing to look in the rearview mirror now and then as well, you can learn from past mistakes. This combination not only builds awareness and power, it also dramatically ramps up your ability to play in expanded games.
One exception here that is relevant to the discussion: animals and children actually ARE dependent on the goodwill of others. We can help protect them AND in the case of children, we can help them learn to trust themselves as a key element of growing up to be a free and competent human.
Trust — it’s an inside job. Being trustworthy — is an admirable goal. My trust in me, as a spiritual being having a human experience, will always outweigh and outperform anyone else’s trustworthiness. You know where this is leading, right? What you see, is what you get. Yes, the Universe very often does reflect back to you that which you are already seeing and believing.
Top Photo Credit: Looking in the Disco Pig by Art Bromage on Flickr