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Trust & Promises

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I’ve heard so much talk of a thing called trust – and possibly talked about it myself – it never before dawned on me this whole thing might be something made up by desperate people. There’s so many common sayings around trust that I can recall right now – trust me, I’m a doctor; how do I regain trust after she cheated on me / I cheated on her; how can I make people trust me; I have trust issues; he has trust issues; I trust people too much; how can I stop trusting people too much. 

In that light – it’s starting to look to me trust isn’t a noble virtuous good thing that grows between two or more people, a magical bond kneaded by collaboration and good choices. Trust isn’t real.

But there is SOMETHING within our interactions that looks like the trust we’re talking about – and today I’m thinking it has nothing to do with “falling on my back and trusting the one who told me to do it is there to catch me.”

There is no trust – there’s only taking risks. 

Whether the other person your you have promised to do something – well, you probably know on your own skin a promise is never a guarantee. So, what is a promise? What is the word of a man? YES – in many cases, when we promised to do something, we will do our best to see it trough; but we like to see a promise as if it is a guarantee; and it gets especially tricky when we like to see a promise as someone’s willingness to put in their maximum effort to see something trough.

Tricky – because so many times we are coerced to promise something – and I’m guessing these are the kinds of promises people most often fail delivering, too. The kinds of promises someone else made you pick up. Someone else demanded a guarantee from you.

So, there might be nothing more as deceitful as are the phrases uttered, “trust me,” and “I promise you!”

As these might more often be used to provoke the other person to put their money/skin/time/energy into some project/investment/relationship, than to signal it’s a safe risk and I guarantee you’ll benefit from this. 

These words are dirty, used for persuasion.

You never want someone to hear they trust you or that you should trust them, or that they promise you something or that you should promise something to them – you put yourself IN a game when you like your odds, when you can handle the risk, or when you have figured out how to clip the tails; and you respect the other person enough so he or she can decide when they are also in a comfortable position enough to take the opportunity – with the risk – that you are currently offering. There should be no “persuasion” involved.

As soon as there is “persuasion” involved – you’re very thoroughly being convinced of how beneficial something is for you in the long run – or whatever… Remember – the one provoking you to do it must have even more to gain from it. Every interaction as such, in this sense, is a deal, is a trade – so, make sure you survive first, don’t let the stupids or the bandits get you to go bust for them.

I don’t care about trust and promises, cheap risks and guarantees – I care about options 🙂

3 replies on “Trust & Promises”

Hi Silvi,
I followed a link on Twitter to find your contemplation on trust. I found your take to be surprising; I’ve never thought of trust as a liability or a signifier for manipulation. I have to think more about it. But I want to emphasize an aspect of trust that is very basic and is frequently not considered in discussions of trust. That is, the origin of trust–or that trust is a developmental achievement. I frequently work with people who have been hurt, deceived, abused and taken advantage of. Typically in these conversations, trust is an important subtext. “How can I trust you when I couldn’t even trust my own mother?” or “I have a hard time trusting/believing that you won’t abandon me.” On many occasions, some persistent memory/emotional experience of a betrayal casts a shadow on current interactions.
Trust, developmentally, may be more fundamental to us humans than other species. Think of a helpless infant. Totally dependent on its mother/primary caregiver for everything. The fact that life-sustaining rituals ( feeding, warming, clothing, cleaning etc) occur in reaction to the infant’s signals establishes the fundamental trust. On a very primitive level, the infant “realizes” or gets that its needs are being met regularly and predictably. That is the foundation of trust as an interpersonal theme. Its disruption for a young person casts has a long lasting effect on how they decide to engage the world.
So I think, trust isn’t just “real” but a basic emotional reality. For many who are utterly helpless and dependent on their caregivers ( children for example) trust ( or the lack of it) is their only reality and shapes their presence as an adult in the world. Thanks.

Thanks for your comment – I find there is a phase in life from which you become from a helpless dependent a self-sustainable adult. Should we fail to do that, we will have those exact “trust issues” – we expect people take care of us like our parents did when we were not in that position ourselves.

“I find there is a phase in life from which you become from a helpless dependent a self-sustainable adult.”
True. The trick is figuring out how one achieves that. Is achieving independence or the capacity to develop into a self-sustainable adult a passive process? Does the passive child gradually bloom into independence as destined by their intrinsic potential? With minimal interference? Or do you actively instill independence in a developing person? Or both? I think the love and support the child receives forms the emotional foundation for any additional work. Trust is then the psychological capital you accumulate for the perilous journey into a self-sustaining adult.
Thank you for your meditations Ishirubi. Very stimulating.

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