Who do we think is worthy of our trust? What is it that makes someone ‘trustworthy’ to us? What about the times that someone didn’t come through for us when we needed them to? How did we reconcile that disappointment? How do those experiences affect our level of ‘trust’ in others as the next situation arises? Can someone be completely ‘trustworthy’ to us?

With trust, most of us are looking for a consistent response from others that is always in our best interest. When we trust our children, our parents, our lover, our client, or our co-workers, we expect them to do what we requested of them or what was agreed upon between us. Yet all of us have experienced being let down, taken advantage of, or have been betrayed in some way at some time in our lives. These experiences have shaped our beliefs about trust. Who you can and can’t trust and why.

The emotions that come with the belief that we can’t trust someone we count on, can be very painful. If we encounter these experiences as young children, our egos will step in to protect us from the pain by creating beliefs that are not as painful. Instead of believing that my mother betrayed me for her own needs, I made up a belief that something was wrong with me. If I had been a better daughter, then my mother would have come through. This story created by my ego, provided me with an opportunity to do something to change/ control my mother’s behavior. If I worked on being a better daughter, my mother would be different and become more trustworthy in the future.

The classic definition of trust is a situation characterized by the following aspects: One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee), and the situation is directed to the future. In addition, the trustor (voluntarily or forcedly) abandons control over the actions performed by the trustee. As a consequence, the trustor is uncertain about the outcome of the other’s actions; they can only develop and evaluate expectations. The uncertainty involves the risk of failure or harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave as desired. This puts us in the position of waiting until what we need and what the other person wants lines up in such a way that they will come through for us. Not a very powerful place to be.

What if trust is not a matter trusting anyone else? What if trust is really about trusting ourselves? Counting on our ability to honor what feels best to us moment-to-moment? When I remember we are all responsible for taking care of ourselves, I realize that putting my trust into someone else to take care of me gives my power away. And what about the flip-side? When I make an agreement with someone, am I less trustworthy if I renegotiate if circumstances change to take care of myself? I have found that trust is a matter of me trusting me to make choices that are for my highest good. When I make choices that are for my highest good, they are naturally for the highest good of everyone involved. I love the vision of a world where we can count on each other to take care of and honor ourselves; Trusting each other to do what is best for ourselves, instead of taking on the mantle of doing what is best for each other. When I know I can trust you to take care of you, I can focus on trusting me to take care of me. From this shared foundation of self-trust, we can do great things together.

How can you be more trustworthy to yourself today?