Note: The Audio version of Myth 5. When you trust people you will find happiness is located at the end of this article.
I want to talk about the way trust upsets our happiness journey.
We may not think about the way we have been taught to trust, being directly related to our happiness. It’s similar to Myth 4 (‘The more success you have the happier you will be’), and realising the detriment chasing ladder-climbing success has to our happiness.
I have trust issues.
We are all well acquainted with the phrase “I have trust issues”. We don’t look at that as a good thing.
When our trust gets broken we are left feeling shattered, alone and skeptical. Our ability to trust people and life becomes limited, our confidence wanes and we become pessimistic. We can hold ourselves back from new experiences and relationships. Consequently, this can reduce the opportunities we take to bring happiness into our lives.
This is the way we currently experience trust.
Think of trust as a physical item - a box. If I trust you I give you all of the box, not just part of it. This means I then ‘trust’ that you will care for and look after that box. Not damage it, hide it in the corner, throw it out, store it under the bed, fill it with junk. This is different from me giving you a present. When I give you a gift I don’t hold onto what happens to it. You are free to choose to do whatever you want with it and it won’t matter to me. I am not attached to it.
In addition to my trust, the box, my emotional health is completely attached to it. All of my ability to feel loved, cared for, wanted, important, special, and whole comes with this box. And my ability to feel all these emotions is dependent on what is done with the box.
Trusting this way we need to have hope. Finding hope this way is not built on any foundation that we have control of. It is the equivalent of building a house made of straw.
We are introduced to trust at a very young age
The definition of Trust according to the Oxford English dictionary is A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Which reworded you could say we give our power away to other people and hope they don’t let us down.
We are continuously asked to trust people, situations, and life. And we do. And our trust gets broken. Yet we do it again, and again, and again. The impact this has on our happiness is catastrophic, and yet we don’t know how to stop it.
We keep rebuilding our house made of straw only to watch it be destroyed time and time again.
Let’s look at why we keep repeating this pattern.
You are six years old and you have a sports carnival coming up at school and you say to your dad, “Hey dad, I really want you to be there”, and your dad says, “Trust me, I'll be there, I promise 100%, I'll be there.” So the day comes and he doesn't turn up and you wait and you do your races and all your activities and he's not there. As a result, you are absolutely shattered. The truth is your trust is broken. He promised you he would be there and he wasn’t.
What happens next is then everyone comes along and not only are they all excited, they say to you, “Honey, don't stress, your dad’s a firefighter and there was this massive accident. He saved people from a burning building he's going to get a medal. Dad’s a hero. He's amazing. It's not his fault.”
And so that line, it's not their fault. Absolutely undoes us. We now dismiss our genuine feeling of being let down and hurt. The momentary feeling of being unloved and unimportant, and how much that upset us. We think, ‘oh, okay, well it's not his fault. I should still trust him.’
I'm not saying that the dad is not a hero. Something else happened. There's an excuse. The point we missed is that the trust was broken and we are meant to ignore it because of the "it's not their fault" rule. Remember Myth 3: Following the rules will lead you to happiness.
We are meant to give trusting them another go. We are not allowed to listen to or acknowledge how we feel.
The way we have been introduced to trust means we are not involved in what happens next.
Factually your trust, your personal trust, has been broken thousands of times in your life. Now when someone comes along and says to you “trust me”. If we are honest with ourselves there's a little bit inside of us that goes “Really? I don't think so!”.
Yet also at that moment something inside of us tries to convince us that we should trust them. So we battle with ourselves. The more hurt we have been in the past, the bigger the battle. We try to dismiss ourselves, and we don't tune in to what feels right.
We think we have two choices.
- To block ourselves and then don’t pursue the next step. Resulting in us limiting our life experience. Or
- We try to convince ourselves that we can trust them. Trust that they won't upset us, do the wrong thing, or hurt us.
It’s like the box.
The way we have been taught to trust is to give all of our power away to someone else. For them to come along and love, care for, and look after us. We risk it. Our happiness is dependent now on what they do. All our power and hope and our potential for happiness no longer lie with ourselves.
So we go ahead and we give our power away to them. All the while we are waiting for them to let us down. To prove to us that they weren’t worthy of our trust and all the time there was a part of us that was angry at ourselves for doing it.
This is when we start to build our house of sticks. Because we are aware we are vulnerable, we know we want and need protection. Yet the power we have to support ourselves is akin to sticks. We try to build a stronger foundation. It takes longer for us to trust. And that means more intense work from other people. Only for us to then give our power away again. But we still do! It’s the only way we know. Life comes along and we get huffed and puffed, and down comes our house of sticks.
When we trust this way we are blind to ourselves.
Blind Trust. Truthfully is the only thing it can be called.
We have participated in ‘Blind trust’ all of our lives. Trusting this way, the longer life goes on the more our trust gets broken. The more we feel like it will get broken. So we trust life less. And we trust people in our life less and less. We feel trapped, lost, and disillusioned, we believe life can't get better. We again circle back around to powerlessness. Unable to think that we can make a difference.
When we give our trust away to somebody else, then we are unable to change the circumstances in our life because we're hoping or waiting for that situation to get better, go the way we want, or totally collapse.
We are not supporting ourselves, we're not in our lives. Nor are we in control of our happiness journey.
We either win or we lose this way. “I trust you won’t cheat on me, I trust it won’t rain today.” We have no control over what happens. So if we win we feel loved, supported and even lucky. Yet if we lose we feel unloved, unsupported, and unlucky.
The new way to trust
How do we move from Blind trust to trust that we can support ourselves in? As with every happiness Myth that we have pulled apart so far the answer always lies with ourselves.
Let’s go back to the ‘box’ that we mentioned earlier. The way we were taught to trust was to give the whole box away. Hoping that it was treasured. Remember ‘blind trust’ is where we are not present to ourselves.
What if we could be present to ourselves? Present to how we feel and what we need in every situation. What if we reached into the box and pulled out a token, and we give the person or situation a token - an opportunity to show us, support us, or love us. But at all times we keep the rest of the power to love and support ourselves. We keep the box.
What if we reword ‘I trust’ to ‘I believe in the best of their ability’.
‘I believe to the best of their ability that they won't hurt me, upset me, overlook me, leave me,’ etc. But I don't ‘blind trust’ them. Most people have no intention of deliberately hurting another person. When we enter a marriage and we say our vows we have every intention of being completely trustworthy. When we start a new job we don’t think we will leave. However, life will continue to evolve us and to present experiences in front of us. We need to be able, to be honest with ourselves and listen to what is right for us.
When we trust by believing in ‘the best of our or their ability’, we get to hold on to something now. That little something is us:
- being present to us
- listening to us
- knowing us
- acknowledging us.
This is what our life is all about. Our happiness journey - us finding us. If I'm present to me, I can tune into how I feel. I can believe to the best of your ability that you won't hurt me. As well as at all times still being able to tune into me to see if it still feels right and support myself.
It’s about trusting ourselves.
The truth about trust. Trust no one. ‘We shouldn't trust people ever’ is a really hard concept to get your head around. However, the way we have been taught to trust, to blind trust, means we cannot be guaranteed to find happiness this way.
Believing in ‘the best of their ability’ means we can remain influential in our happiness quest.
Tuning into how we feel is the beginning of trusting ourselves.
When we ask people what they think and it's not because we're going to do what they say.
It honestly is because we're waiting for the answer that feels right to us. It's coming back to moving trust from someone else having the answer, to knowing that we have our answer.
When you ask four people the question, what should I do? You wait for the person that says the one that aligns with you. The one that resonates. And then you would go to do that. We do know our answers. We pretend we don't know the answers. But we do. It's tuning in and allowing ourselves to get the voice of our ‘knowing ourselves’ louder in our life and more prevalent. To know it. To trust it. And to believe it.
Happiness starts with us
Allowing ourselves to pull things apart and turn our thoughts back in towards us to listen, to find our answers. It moves the rules that we've lived with all our life that someone else knows better and allows us to come back to ‘I know better’. Trusting ourselves is a really big part of that. Listening to what feels right and being honest with our answers. Asking ourselves where do I fit in this, and how can I move forward while keeping my power? Trusting our thoughts. Trusting ourselves to use our voice. To stand up for ourselves, to trust our knowingness that we do have our answers. This is owning our ability to navigate our emotional happiness journey.
Our ability to trust ourselves is directly connected to our ability to find happiness.
Now we are building a house of bricks.
Our ability to stay protected loved and supported is not vulnerable to who or what comes along. This way we don’t live in fear of what happens next and our whole world collapsing. We live knowing ‘I have got me’.
When we redefine trust in our lives and not participate in ‘blind trust’, we stop giving our power away and our potential for finding happiness. There is a sense of peace within us when we live, knowing the people and situations in our lives will, ‘to the best of their ability’, love and look after us. There is an even greater peace when we know how to listen to and support ourselves.