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What is trust? My Journey to Understanding

Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something…or at least this is the Google Definition of trust.

Not too long ago, someone, I love dearly said to me, “I can’t trust you with my feelings.”  I understood that I made some poor choices and they were angry with me, I had apologized, and I was so confused with this statement.  How could I lose the trust of someone that I love this much? At this point, all I could do was turn around and walk away. I didn’t walk away because I believed that I couldn’t be or shouldn’t be trusted, but my thought was…”How can a relationship as strong as ours go so wrong over a few bad choices?”  Was I really untrustworthy?

three friends that trust each other

Trust creates relationships.

Being the teacher and learner that I am, I went out and researched, “trust and feelings”.  Almost every day for the last few months I read about trust, feelings, and relationships. I was determined to understand this situation.  I guess you could say it was because of my love for this person that I was so determined. I wanted to understand how someone can go from being so close to me, to never speaking to me again.  Did my few poor decisions really relate to the loss of a great friend?

Two Friends that Trust each other

Love + Trust = Friends

Here is what I learned through all my readings:

Trust is

  • One of the most important feelings in any relationship.  In order to allow yourself to love, you need to have trust.
  • An emotion that you feel when you believe that a person is honest and dependable.  It is the belief that the person will act the way you want them to act, and they will never hurt you.

What this means to me is that trust is a “belief”…it is based on your decision to believe that a person is worthy of always being honest, always being dependable, always acting the way you “believe” they should act, and they will never hurt you.  What I learned is that no one can own your trust. It is your decision…it is up to you to determine who you trust. It is the person’s responsibility to “earn” your trust through their actions and for you to grant trust.

Fred Kisses Linda

With Trust Relationships last forever!

Since trust is something you have full control over, how does someone earn your trust?  The answer is they can’t! To trust, you have to believe and a belief is an inward conviction that something is true.  It is a choice you make…it is all your decision. This decision depends on your past and your experiences with trust. Having trust in others is inherently dependent on your past relationships.   

In all of our lives we have been disappointed, hurt, lied to, and rejected.  Sometimes. we go through these emotions on a daily basis. It is also an undeniable truth that we all have had events in our lives that have given us reasons not to trust. We have all felt rejected, hated, bullied, disappointed.  We have all suffered pains in our relationships. These hardships in relationships are what shape our current ability to trust the people we meet. We become protective and only grant trust to those people that we believe we will act the way we want them to act and that they will not hurt or disappoint us based on our past expereiences.  

A baby right after birth is beginning to learn about trust.

From the moment you are born you start learning how to trust.

But let’s face it, we are all human and we have all done some things at one time or another in our lives that we are not proud to admit we did.  We make mistakes when we are afraid, angry, sad. Sometimes we are just stupid because we didn’t think our choices through to the end. It is not that we intentionally set out to hurt the people we love, we make mistakes.  If you lose trust in everyone that has made a mistake you will live a lonely life.

When your trust is broken, the important decision you have to make is if the mistake was done unintentionally or intentionally.  If the choice was intentional, then it was not a mistake and that is something for another post.

Fred, Linda Al and Joanne, friends for more that 45 years!

With trust, you can be friends forever.

An unintentional mistake will cause hurt and pain.  However, if you trust in the relationship you will believe that it is worth the effort.  You will work on the relationship by accepting the apology, remind the person of your boundaries and expectations, and then you grant them to trust again. It is your decision. With trust, you will realize there are no guarantees that mistakes will never happen and that you will never get hurt.  You are making the conscious decision that this person is worth it to you to forgive them and continue to work on the relationship.

Trusting someone means that you understand mistakes are inevitable in all relationships, you believe the person’s intentions are generally good, they do not make mistakes intentionally to hurt you, and you are willing to work through the hurt when a mistake is made.

Trust isn’t about never feeling a negative emotion ever again, it is inevitable that the person will make mistakes and hurt you. Trust is that you have enough faith in the person to work through the hurt when it happens.  You believe that the person has good intentions but they can also make poor choices.  Nevertheless, you are willing to forgive that person and continue to love that person despite their shortcomings.  

My Definition of Trust

Trust is hard to define.

Trust is when you are committing yourself to love someone with the understanding they are not perfect, they will make mistakes, but you believe the person will not make mistakes intentionally to hurt you.  You believe the relationship is important enough to you that when mistakes happen you can work through any hurt and continue loving that person.

So, how do I address the person that said, “I can’t trust you with my feelings.”?  

A calligraphy pen and letter

Dear Friend,
Can you ever trust me again?

I will say this:

Dear Person that I Love Dearly,

When you said that you cannot trust me with your feelings I can’t even explain how powerful that one sentence was to me.  First, I know I am not in charge of your trust or your feelings, only you can decide how you feel about me and decide if you want to continue with our relationship.Second, I understand that I have made mistakes and I have hurt you.  Nevertheless, I hope in our relationship I have demonstrated goodness and love aplenty and I have earned your trust sufficiently to realize that these mistakes were not done intentionally to hurt you. It saddens me to think that the mistakes I made could ruin our relationship forever. If you love me and have faith in me you will believe me when I say, ” I am very sorry that I ever hurt you.”  I do know which choices I made that hurt you deeply and I promise I will not make these same mistakes again. I know that I will make more mistakes in our relationship, but I want you to know that I would never do anything to intentionally hurt you, ever. Finally, I pray that you will accept my apology and I can regain your trust because I believe in your heart that you do love me and I know that I love you. I want to get back to the relationship we once had because I miss you in my life.   

With All My Love,

Linda

At this point, it is up to my friend to decide if she will trust and forgive me.

Through this experience, I have learned that you can’t make someone forgive you, but you can forgive yourself!

Have you lost trust in someone?  Were you able to repair the relationship?

Bennett, Ty.  “The True Definition of Belief”, https://tybennett.com/the-true-definition-of-belief/ August 4, 2009

Bullard, Shelly, “How to Trust (Especially When You Have Been Hurt)” Shellybullard.com, Posting date unknown found on mindbodygreen.com

Thagard, Paul Ph.D. “What is Trust?”,  Psychology Today, Oct. 9, 2018

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