How do you move through life? Are you open and trusting towards others? Willing to try new things?
Do you hold in your heart the knowing that no matter what, things will always work out in the end? Or do you distrust those around you? Avoid sharing your ideas and feelings or trying new things at any cost?
Can you imagine how much better life could be with more trust? Relationships can be deeper, more meaningful and more intimate. Saying yes to opportunities in life can bring more excitement. Stepping out of our comfort zone can lead to more rewarding careers.
All the more reason for us to learn what we can do for ourselves, that can help us to create a richer, more fulfilling life with others. For me it starts with understanding that no matter what is going on around us, trust comes from within. I’m talking about us developing trust in ourselves:
- Recognising and acknowledging our worthiness
- Knowing and believing that we can rely on ourselves, no matter what
- Having the courage and confidence in ourselves to take greater risks
What’s me trusting myself got to do with me trusting others?
Things came to a head for me a few years back when, utterly disillusioned by the political warfare amongst senior executives in one organisation, I moved to another. Only to be disillusioned again! The difference here was that the behaviour was more overt. Rather than scheming behind the scenes, there were public displays of domination and scapegoating.
The level of distrust was endemic and palpable and impacted everyone from senior executives to frontline staff. I saw how fear prompted people to keep their heads down, stay out of the spotlight. Suspicion prevailed and few were going the extra mile. It was exhausting to watch how much effort was put into keeping the status quo and power games.
This was so clearly not for me and I knew it didn't have to be this way. I promised myself then that I would do what I could to bring more empathy, integrity and authenticity into the workplace. I was convinced that the ripple effect of a few people consistently demonstrating these qualities could have far reaching consequences on the level of trust in the organisation.
Finding trust within
I started by looking at myself. I wanted to understand why I had felt so disempowered. Why I had not stood up for myself. Why I hadn’t been angry when I didn’t get the support I needed. After an intense journey of self-reflection, studying and discussions with others in similar situations I realised that:
- To respond with empathy in an environment that encourages, or at least doesn't discourage, fear, aggression and manipulation needs a really strong sense of self-worth
- To be able to stand up for what we believe in, in an environment that seeks to suppress, needs robust self-belief.
- To be true to who we are, needs self-confidence.
Together, these three things, self-worth, self-belief and self-confidence, give rise to an unwavering self-trust.
When we trust ourselves
We often speak of trust in the context of others and hold our trust issues like a badge of honour, evidence of our survival from mistreatment. And yes, our ability to trust IS influence by past experiences. No, not everyone can be trusted and we do need to learn to trust wisely. But ultimately trust comes from within. With unwavering trust in ourselves, we are less concerned with what other people are doing because we know that when push comes to shove, we can rely on ourselves. So
- If we lose our job because we speak up, we can look for another in an organisation that is a better fit to who we are.
- If we think someone is not trustworthy, we don’t have to cut ties with them but we can put appropriate precautions in place.
- If we come unstuck as we tackle a new challenge, we don’t have to give up thinking we've failed. We can use this as a powerful opportunity to learn an unforgettable lesson and to ask for help.
Without trust our lives are dull and restrained. Trust is the gas that makes everything possible
It goes without saying that with greater trust in self, comes greater trust in life. And, research has shown that the more we trust ourselves, the more we are able to trust others. And the more we trust others the more they can trust us.
Trust is essentially about relationships. Whether with our self, life or others and Michael J Herbert captured it perfectly when he quoted in his book ‘Understanding Bankruptcy’: