When We Talk About Trust, What Do We Really Mean?

Sep 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM Mirais Holden Trust

When We Talk About Trust, What Do We Really MeanTrust is incredibly important in all of our relationships, with our spouses, families, friends, co-workers, and even our casual acquaintances. But although we put a lot of emphasis on trust in our society, we sure don’t know a whole lot about it!

We often think “I don’t trust that person,” or maybe even “I don’t trust myself.” But when we talk about trust, what do we really mean? 

Trust is merely a judgment that I make about another person or myself at a particular time.

For Example:

  • My son is sixteen years old and has recently gotten his driver’s license. He means well and sincerely wants to improve, but he is not a very skilled driver yet, and he wrecked my new convertible last week. Next week, when my son asks me to borrow the keys to the convertible, I might say: “No, son, I don’t trust you with my new car. You can only drive the old station wagon.”
For some of us, this type of conversation might make us nervous. Why is that? Perhaps it has something to do with some ineffective beliefs we have about trust, such as:
  • Trust Can’t Change: Once trust has been broken, it can never be repaired.
  • Trust is Earned: Other people need to earn my trust.
  • Trust Equals Love: If I say I don’t trust someone, what I’m really saying is that I don’t love them.

I’ll claim that the following beliefs about work will have us be more peaceful and effective:

  • Trust Can Change: Just because I didn’t trust someone in the past doesn’t mean that things can’t change. If the circumstances change, I can update my judgment about whether to trust that person in the future. Just because my son was a “bad driver” at first and I did not trust him with my new car doesn’t mean that my son will always be a “bad driver.” Once he gets more experience and acquires more skills, I can make a different judgment about whether or not I trust him.

  • Trust is a Choice: Other people cannot earn my trust. Rather, it is my choice to extend my trust to someone, or not to extend my trust. I choose not to extend my trust to my son to drive the new car. If after a few months I find that his driving has improved, I might make a choice to extend my trust to him, but it has nothing to do with whether he has earned my trust through good driving. That is because it is also possible that even after his driving improves, I still refuse to extend my trust to him because I am extremely protective of my convertible. My son might argue that he has earned my trust, but that is neither here nor there, because I choose not to extend it.

  • Trust and Love are Distinct: Trust and love are two distinct things. I don’t trust my son with my car, but that most certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t love him. I love him dearly, and I also don’t trust him with my car.

If we are willing to pay attention, we might find that we are often living in misconceptions about trust in lots of areas of our lives, so it’s worth taking a deeper look to see how we can live more peacefully and effectively when it comes to trust. If you want to learn more, register for our next course using the link below.