Trust is a “credit slip” based on what people reckon is the quality or consistency of someone or something.
When people trust, they leave themselves vulnerable to the person they have bestowed trust in. It could be a physical item that a person is trusted to give back, or it could be advice on an important issue. Whatever the situation is, people who trust leave themselves vulnerable in some way.
When trust is broken, it’s called betrayal. Being betrayed can leave people feeling many negative emotions (such as fear, jealousy, envy, resentment, sadness, despair and anger) whilst thinking that they were fools for being duped. Feelings of betrayal are usually intense, and behaviour becomes difficult to manage. The higher the intensity of an emotion, the more it progressively assumes control over behaviour, so the more actions are motivated by automatic instincts, which can seem impulsive.1
Although it leaves people vulnerable to potential betrayal, trust also creates peace. Trust upheld materialises peace, and this has relevance to people’s psychological, biological and physical environments. When people trust they feel safe. They are not, on edge, reacting defensively. Thus trust reduces the energy people have to spend on biological defensive reactions, so it’s an important contribution to good health as it reduces allostatic-load (see Stress).
People live with the consequences of their actions, and talents of knowing who to trust are significant to this process. If people would like to disbelieve in the reality of trust, they would be instant social misfits. All lives revolve around trust. Human interaction is all about the degree of trust people have in their lives. The question is not whether trust is of consequence, but how well people perceive it to be of consequence. Trust undoubtedly plays a huge role within all lives.
Trust is also a cure for fear. Where there is fear, there is a lack of trust. Trust is at the heart of overcoming fear. Knowing who to trust can be the most dubious aspect of trusting, for it can often leave people feeling deeply insecure. When attempting to make such discernments, a sort of emotional paralysis can grip those who have been taken advantage of or abused before. People can believe that they’re helpless to gauge personality. This helps to manifest a psychological crisis at the point of making a decision of where to place trust. Decisions are then skewed by panicky fear. So this leads to a greater chance of making a bad allocation of trust, and a bad outcome is more likely. A bad outcome then reinforces the belief that they’re helpless to gauge which personalities to trust. It is an intensely frustrating experience that can lead to self-deprecating thoughts rapidly progressing towards self-loathing and even self-sabotage.
Judging consistency is the essence of gauging trust. It could be trust in science; trust in one’s self; trust in a partner; trust in a friend; trust in the spiritual; or trust in an ability. Whatever the situation is, the results are the same. More trust equals less fear. Less fear equals less panicky decisions. Less panicky decisions equal more accurate decisions.
This is not promoting a purist view of the world and suggesting that everybody trust everybody else. The suggestion is that people specifically learn to use consistency to gauge trust, and to temper trust to specific and individual situations. Trust is the ability to judge consistency of behaviour. People are at different stages of development, and they see life in different ways, so it’s only reasonable that trust is given according to what is deemed fit for each individual case, yet using consistency as a guide.
There is no one size fits all. To tailor trust to the individual situations and be willing to update judgements when new information is brought to light is the only reasonable course of action. Trusting is a continual process of updating. People evolve and grow on a personal level. Just as people find that they can trust themselves more with issues in time, they will find that they can do the same for others and vice versa. People trust some things more and some things less, and this is a continual process.
Consistency encompasses the essence of what trust is. Looking for patterns of consistency is a very simple way of looking at life. It also just so happens to be the most effective way to gauge where trust is appropriate. If people consider another’s personality and behaviours in terms of consistency, it reveals aspects of the other’s makeup in terms that relate exceedingly well for attributing trust. If people know how consistent or inconsistent different parts of a person’s personality are, then it is much easier to attribute an appropriate amount of trust. Attributing different parts of a person’s personality with different amounts of trust is the fairest and most reliable approach.
Feelings of betrayal can build up over frequent, yet minor, breaches of trust, and this can lead to an overall distrust of a person. If people do not trust someone, or trust someone less, for specific inconsistent personality traits, then they will not feel betrayed and disappointed when the person lives up to the inconsistent trait. In many cases, trust based in false expectations is what people feel betrayed over. Trust in false expectation most often leads to feelings of betrayal and disappointment. People can act indignant when their self-appointed false expectations are not met and even expect the other to feel guilty. Such narcissism is in no way fair.
Judging where to place trust with complex behaviour can be made straight forward when looking for consistencies. For example, a case of a person that people know has frequently borrowed money from others and not paid them back. The consistency of available perceptions says, “If we lend the person money, we are unlikely to get it back.” The dilemma is that we fear for the person’s health and sanity if we do not give the money. The person promises to pay us back because of the desperation of his or her circumstances. The issue is whether we trust the promise with which our sensory information is in conflict. Nevertheless, we lend the person the money anyway, as the sensory information about his or her welfare is a priority for us. Now it just so happens that we don’t get the money back.
This situation can pan out, for us, in two very different ways. If we trusted or believed the promise that we would be paid back, then we will be disappointed and feel betrayed. If we were counting on the money to provide us with important necessities, we may even experience a bout of despair that increases feelings of hostility. All the negative feelings will be associated with the person, and we will feel demoralised as if our good will has been taken advantage of. These are hallmark feelings of the very unpleasant experience of broken trust, yet the situation has been brought about only because we believed in a promise. A promise that just so happened to be in conflict with our perceptions of the consistency of the person’s behaviour around borrowing money. This makes us feel like fools too as we went against our better judgement.
On the other hand, if we lent the person the money while distrusting his or her promise, we would not feel betrayed. Instead of “distrusted”, we can put it another way. Say we “trusted in our perceptions”, based on the consistency of this person’s behaviour around borrowing money, that we would not be paid back. In this situation, far from falling into feelings of betrayal and despair we are actually glad with the trust that we placed in our perceptions. We are not disappointed as we judged correctly that we would not be paid back. In fact, we feel good about our discernment and are self-assured.
This example shows how distrusting a person’s promises (or trusting one’s perception) can be the best course of action. The attribution of distrust is fair and appropriate in the example. It’s not disrespectful.
If people look through the lens of consistency onto another’s personality, it’s far easier to gauge that person’s natural tendencies. Accepting this information and attributing the appropriate level of trust per tendency is a most appropriate and thorough way to trust.
Nevertheless, although the process is simple to follow, perceptions can be difficult to accept when the consistencies of nature are found to be significantly different than what people wanted, or expected, them to be. It can be more comfortable to trust in one’s inherited beliefs and associated expectations than to trust in the consistency of perceptions. Realising the consistency of their perceptions can unsettle people. It can lead them to distort their judgements as accepting reality is not always the most comfortable or agreeable choice. These altered, inaccurate perceptions create inappropriate emotions. As the consistency of perceptions has been tampered with, it’s virtually impossible to attribute the correct amount of trust. In this respect, trusting is very much an art of life that concerns how honest people can be with themselves regarding the consistency of their perceptions.
Old Norse. Traust = rely on, strong and safe, confidence in or reliance on some quality or attribute of a person or thing, or the truth of a statement.
1. The firm belief in the reliability of truth, ability, strength, someone or something etc..