How to Trust

I have a problem when it comes to trusting others. It has been an issue from time to time, and I suspect it has a lot to do with my inability to sustain a relationship. I was reminded of this again today when I came across a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “I am determined to cultivate only thoughts that increase trust and love.” I have no idea how to do that. I guess it could be like practicing prayer, but I’m agnostic so what’s the point of that. I feel a little like Cdr. Data trying to learn humanity.

I think it would have been better if I’d learned to trust as a child, but I didn’t; I learned that I was expendable. I, with my younger sister, spent seven years in foster care while my mother went to college. If my baby sister had been put into foster care there would have been trouble from her father’s family; and if my oldest sister had been left in foster care there would have been trouble from our grandmother. When Mom graduated from college on my fourteenth birthday, we went back to live with her but I continued to work (I’d had a paper route since I was twelve) and paid a little rent and most of my own expenses.

Actually, my time in foster care was where I saw life in a stable loving family environment, and was probably pretty far up toward the higher end of foster care experiences. Being the only two foster kids in a rural town of 1200 was really a little isolating; people were nice, but we didn’t get invited to birthday parties. Anyway, I think most kids pick up that there’s someone they can trust by the time they’re in their teens, and I didn’t get that.

Going forward then, I expected relationships to end. Finally I caught myself hastening the end if it got too drawn out. I did call a woman I was seeing back in 1997 when my car broke down, and she told me to call AAA and a cab. Now I plan moves so that I can get everything on and off the truck by myself.

So, there it is. My task is to “cultivate only thoughts that increase trust and love.” I make every effort to be trustworthy; but to develop, much less increase, trust in others… not a clue. I guess they call it “practice” for a reason. If I don’t get it in this lifetime I’ll just have to do it later.

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3 Responses to How to Trust

  1. Rain Trueax says:

    Interesting thoughts. I have no reason not to trust given the life I have led but I tend to think like the Reagan saying– trust but verify. I will more or less take someone at their word until they show me they exaggerate or out and out lie, but even before that, I won’t put everything onto anybody’s word until I’ve known them awhile and had a chance to evaluate how much they value their trustworthiness.

    Have you thought about looking for someone through say Match.com or some such site where they fill out questionnaires and maybe that could be one of the important points for you– although I have to admit after reading stories about people who meet online, a lot lie even with something like that.

    My last thought on this is that sometimes the reason we run into a lot of people who aren’t trustworthy might be because of the type of person we’re drawn to– not that I know you well enough to say that’s your issue– but if it is, you might look at that as a factor in changing (if we can change to what we are attracted…)

  2. Harold says:

    Thank you, Rain.
    Back in the 90’s I filled out a questionnaire for e-Harmony. As I was proofing it before submission I realized that I had filled it out for the person I wished I was, and that it had very little to do with me as I actually was. It occurred to me that most people probably have a problem describing themselves as others would see them.
    I met X-4 online in 2004; and, even though I believe we each thought we were being honest and open at the time, that turned out to be a long couple of years.
    Anyway, my intention now is to look inward and work on that for the next little while.

  3. Rain Trueax says:

    I think you hit on it. Knowing ourselves is one of the toughest things there will ever be. We find it so easy to fool ourselves and when that involves relationships with others, it makes it even tougher. I wrote a profile for myself years and years ago for one of our indie newspaper sites for men and women finding each other. I had gotten such a kick out of reading what others said about themselves that I thought it’d be fun, but of course, never sent it in. A few words and it’s who we are except will it be even next year? I’ve heard of happy connections from online but likewise those that didn’t work at all or were involving a man pretending to be a woman so he could meet a lesbian etc etc. It’s kind of amazing but I do think online can work and sometimes leads to that happily ever after. There are sure a lot of such sites out there right now. Some guy just wrote a book about it from the journalistic viewpoint.