Last week I wrote about the three layers of trust in relationships. Since then I’ve been noticing how and when I trust people and situations, as well as how and whether others trust me in our interactions. What I’ve noticed is that my own ability to trust runs deep, and that my deep trust is contagious. It’s not universally contagious, but it has the potential to be. This deep trust carries with it a strong sense of peace and well-being, as if all is right with the world, even when appearances seem to deny it.
At dinner with a friend last night, we were discussing trust and settled on the term “unconditional trust.” Dictionary definitions of trust link it with confidence, faith and belief. Those four words can be interchangable in many cases, and they all boil down to being free of doubt.
Looking through the lens of a romantic relationship, how can a person be free of doubt? There are two ways to cultivate trust: through experience and through choice. The first is the easy way; when my partner proves to be repeatedly reliable, I learn to trust in his reliability. However, when we’re learning important life lessons like trust, it’s usually not so easy.
I’m reminded of a poem (author unknown) that starts, “I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to overcome/I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve...” I think trust is a lot like that. We learn to trust through experiences that force us to learn how to trust. We learn to trust by learning what not to trust. And ultimately, we learn to trust by consciously choosing to trust.
Trust, faith, belief, and confidence are all choices we make. There is no empirical evidence in faith. Beliefs are things we make up in our minds; we choose to believe certain things. And although there are people who mistake belief with truth, they are not the same thing. Having confidence in someone or something is also a choice. If faith, belief and confidence are choices, then so must be trust.
My husband and I have been having this conversation for weeks now. He’s not thrilled that I’m an exotic dancer, and on one level I understand and sympathize with that. On the other hand, we have been consciously cultivating trust in our relationship for the past year or so. He says things like, “It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s the men,” and “I’ll trust more when you stop dancing.” Statements like that make me a little crazy because they’re conditional. And trust, like peace, to be real, has to come from within (Ghandi). To be real and sustaining, trust has to exist regardless of outside appearances. My husband, if he really wants to learn the life lesson of trust, is going to have to make the decision to trust me.
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