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“I can’t trust them anymore.”
How many times have we said that in our lifetime? And how many times have we heard it?
It appears to me that we spend most of our lives lost between whether we need to give our trust or relinquish it.
Almost everything we do in life is dependent on that one single choice. Trust starts with our own selves and extends to our relationship with God, life, family, friends, our partner, politicians, suppliers, coworkers, and so on.
It could be as silly as trusting a supplier with a product or as serious as trusting ourselves in doing an important endeavour.
It could be as insignificant as trusting in the power of words or as essential as trusting life that everything will be okay.
Sometimes, that trust is broken. The product breaks, we fail ourselves, words become barren, and life seems to have something against us.
Again, our choice becomes significantly dependent on whether we should rebuild that trust or not trust at all.
Ah, ask me about it. I’ve struggled with that choice for longer than I can remember. People and life (even myself) broke my trust. The experiences that had caused this broken bond were extremely painful, but what was really excruciating was choosing what to do next.
What makes it even harder is the mindset that appears to follow every choice. If we trust that person or thing again, we could feel safe—we feel that we have given them another chance at doing better.
But if we don’t, we indirectly link it to something negative or dramatic. We might feel like victims, a failure, or that things are unpredictable. We directly link another person’s mistake to our own self-worth.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think that choosing not to trust could also be associated with something highly spiritual and positive. This is what I have been feeling, at least.
If I feel like I can’t trust someone based on a hunch or because that person had failed me, I have the complete freedom not to. I’d only be lying to myself (and them) if I claim that I trust them again when, in fact, I can’t.
While they could take it the wrong way, the truth is, not trusting them isn’t the end of whatever we have going on—be it a job, a relationship, or a friendship. In fact, it is the beginning of something wonderful within me.
For the first time, I feel safe in not trusting someone or something.
There’s less pressure in not trusting than to push myself to feel something I might not be programmed to feel as a human being.
It is not about the other person being worthy of my trust or not—I stopped asking that question a long time ago. If they’re not, it is their problem. They’re the ones who have some inner work to do, and it’s not my call to decide when they can start digging in.
The question that I have started asking myself is, “How do I feel when I choose to trust that person? Does that make me feel good? Does it make me feel wrong?”
The day I started asking this, I renounced a whole lot of perceptions in my mind. If that trust comes naturally, so be it. But if it doesn’t, I’m not forcing it.
You don’t have to force it either.
Here’s why choosing not to trust could be the right choice sometimes:
Let’s be honest. Trust doesn’t come at no cost. The price of trusting anything is having expectations. It is not possible to claim our trust while maintaining a mere neutral image in our heads. When we trust life, we assume it’s going to be good. When we trust our potential, we assume we will kick ass. When we trust our partners, we assume they won’t betray us.
But when we choose not to trust, we free ourselves from what could go wrong and what could go right. We free ourselves from expectations and start meeting people and life where their capabilities begin, and our own illusions drop.
The Buddha was no stranger to this experience. In fact, he said that the root cause of our suffering begins within our own minds. It’s not about the reality outside that hurts—it’s about the reality that we create within and how we react to it.
If I choose to give someone my trust today, the chances are they might break it tomorrow. Not because they’re bad people, but because they’re imperfect (like everyone else). Imperfection is the essence of anyone’s being, and when we love someone, that means that we choose to love all of them—flaws and all.
But when we trust, we might reject the imperfect part of that person or thing. And the proof is that we could get really angry, disappointed, or bitter when they break our trust. But if we look deeper, they broke this trust for a reason—a personal one, most probably.
Not trusting could be quite spiritual in this context. It means we accept the idea that a broken trust stems from an imperfect person who isn’t able to be perfect at all times. What we choose to do once that trust is broken is completely up to us. But maybe, not trusting in the first place is an invitation to accept all parts of life and people (good and bad), as they are, without exception.
Yesterday, my chamomile flower bloomed. I got it six months ago and observed it transform from tiny to big to yellow to green. Change is beautiful—it’s transformational and purposeful.
Just like plants, it is also our own nature. We start small, then we grow big, then we wither, then we grow again. And one day, we bloom into flowers. To trust someone, it could mean that we accept only one phase of them. One part. One character. But that person or thing is bigger than one phase.
We’re a whole lot of phases, and choosing not to trust is being open to the idea that if a person fails or betrays us, their human nature is at play.
Now, I stopped saying, “I trust you.” I prefer to say, “I trust that you will make the right choice.” Rumi takes care of the rest:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”