Looking someone in the eye and being able to say “I trust you” – and to mean it – is one of the most important and fundamental building blocks in all our relationships. The ability to trust someone lies at the root of all successful business partnerships, thriving teams, happy marriages, life-long friendships, and open parent-child relationships.
It is with people that we trust that we can start to be vulnerable, to open up a little more, and to ask for and invite more in. We are able to show who we are and what we need and, in so doing, are able to develop a better understanding of ourselves in the process. As we offer more of ourselves, we unconsciously give the other person the courage to do the same. The result is an opening up of opportunities, creativity and freedom.
When most people are asked about what they value most in another person, or in a relationship, trust will come up as an answer. It is simply the glue that holds all relationships together. And yet it sometimes seems so elusive. Each of us can think of relationships, past and current, that are filled with trust, and many that aren’t – or haven’t been.
So why is trust so hard to find in our relationships?
One of the answers I’m playing with at the moment stems out of a great quote by Mark Sanborn: “the self-mastery index (is) the ratio between promises made and promises kept – both to oneself and to others.” This is profound. Self-mastery involves self-awareness, accountability and ownership. And promises are inextricably linked to trust. When they’re kept, trust remains. When they’re broken, it is eroded.
But what really got me thinking with this quote was the reference to being able to keep promises to ourselves. And reflecting on how much we actually trust ourselves. It takes great courage to look and see the instances where we don’t - and I’m realising that the more I don’t trust myself, the more impossible it is for others to trust me. All the times I tell myself that tomorrow I will work on the report I’ve been procrastinating over; go for a run; go painting with my daughter; phone a friend back…and then fail to do that thing – I’m revealing to myself that I can’t depend on myself, I can’t trust myself. And I unconsciously convey that to others.
Trust is an intricate dance between trusting and being trustworthy. They are two sides to the same coin. When we are truly able to stand honestly in our own promises – clearly stating needs and expectations – and stop trying to be everything to everyone (including ourselves!) we just might be able to step into and invite more of the kind of relationships that are built on trust.
And it’s worth remembering the following: “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” – Walter Anderson, political scientist and author.
On a personal note...
I am curious, creative, determined, committed and (a bit too much of) a perfectionist.