Want to Learn to Trust? If We Want to Achieve Results, It Begins with Us
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey
My earliest memories are filled with terror.
My mother kidnapped me at the age of three, and by the time I was four, she proceeded to work her twelve-hour night shifts at the hospital, often leaving me alone.
The statistics in the United States are that three out of five women have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused, most often by men. I, on the other hand, was abused by my mother, and I decided early in life that women were not to be trusted.
As I grew into a teen, I struggled to make lasting friendships with other girls.
Because of my beliefs about others of my own gender, I attracted girls who were bullies. A small handful marred the other fantastic friendships that I pulled away from due to my inability to trust.
Needless to say, as an adult, I felt more comfortable in the world of men often masculinizing myself as a form of protection.
It wasn’t until the birth of my first daughter that I felt a deep, loving connection to another female. She was the catalyst for years of work, healing and forgiveness.
Today, many of my closest friends are women, and through them I have learned to balance my feminine and masculine power. As women, we need women in our lives – sisters who will tell us the truth, laugh with us, cry with us, and remind us of who we are at our core.
When I wrote my book, The Have It All Woman, I encouraged women to create a small group of ‘MIPs,’ – most important people; a tribe of close women with whom you could literally be standing over a body with a smoking gun and they would ask you, ‘Who shot this person?’
In our lives, our relationships reflect back to us who we are. Once we re-harmonize ourselves, the caliber of these relationships changes. My advice is this – figure out who you are at your core, develop strong friendships with other women who want you to win, nurture these relationships, and if you are like the woman I once was, figure out how to trust.
Trust does not come easily to those who have been the subject of abuse. It is often our trust issues that cause us to sabotage potentially great relationships.
My friend, author, speaker, and TEDx trainer, Dave Horsager, travels the world teaching individuals, companies and governments how to build trust.
Just as trust is essential in relationships, the lack of trust is the root of almost all of our societal issues today. So how do we learn to trust and why should we?
In researching this article, I came across the Edelman Trust Barometer. This PR company has been studying global trust for years and was founded in 1952. What impressed me about Edelman is that they look at trust globally and in several sectors.
As I perused their research, I was struck by the increasing divide between high income and low income respondents. In summary, in 2016, 71% of high income US respondents have trust in institutions whereas only 40% of low income respondents do.
Furthermore, 65% of high income respondents think they will be better off in five years, whereas only 45% of low income respondents do.
What I garnered from these two statistics is that trust and optimism could be correlated to making more money, which led me to ponder the journeys of those that I have coached and mentored.
Recently, someone in a mentoring group that I run had a significant increase in productivity. She did more in one month than she had in the previous year.
As she shared her techniques with her peers, one thing stood out above all else – she had applied all of the training she had received.
Beyond her sharing, it became apparent that she trusted that what she had been told to do would actually work.
It also seems obvious that her peers – those that were not garnering similar results – were actually in a lower state of trust.
So, if trust and optimism are essential to growth, how do we trust? And do we sometimes trust for the wrong reasons?
We often trust authority. If someone has a rank or title, we tend to trust them. Is this always a good idea? Not necessarily, especially if they are speaking outside of their realm of knowledge. It is one thing to know something in theory, it is another thing to practice it.
When I gave birth to my son, AJ, for example, the intern demanded that I have an episiotomy. I informed her that I would not require one. She told me that she had delivered twelve babies, all requiring the surgical cut.
I informed her that I had already given birth to one previously without need and that made me the expert over my body. She stormed out in a huff and let her intern deliver the baby. I didn’t need the episiotomy.
Just because someone is an ‘expert’ should not automatically create trust.
Years ago a client of mine, an actor, was frequently asked to play doctors in commercials. When we were working together, people would come up to him and ask for medical advice. You get the idea.
Trust should be earned through results and not through titles. Trusting someone comes from a full awareness of what they have actually achieved.
My pastor, as an example, has been married for twenty-seven years and has five children. He openly talks about having arguments with his wife and is extremely self-effacing.
His sermons are filled with comedic spins on family life, and this, to me, makes him more trustworthy than someone who may have been married for the same length of time and does not openly acknowledge the challenges.
For those of us who have struggled with trust issues, whether due to bad break-ups, betrayal, abuse, or any combination of the three, it is essential that we learn to trust again.
The best way to do this is to become trustworthy ourselves. Take a moment and consider the myriad of ways in which you can become more reliable:
If you are late, let people know
Be your word
Be willing to be vulnerable
Take responsibility for your actions
Do not gossip
Do not put other people down
Do not judge or criticize
Own your mistakes
Control emotions such as anger
Do not be temperamental
Do not take your frustrations out on others
Ultimately, we attract as we are.
I teach my students, and my clients, that our relationships are merely reflecting back to us a disharmony within ourselves. Inherently, if we want the people around us to change, or new people to show up, then it is our responsibility to change first.
To learn to trust means becoming trustworthy. No matter what it is in your life that you are seeking, I encourage you to look at this list, pick and area that you want to improve in, and commit.
At the end of the day, we will all need trustworthy people in our lives and that begins with us.
Susan Sly is a best-selling author, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur. She specializes in helping individuals, and organizations, become more productive. She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, Chris. Susan is the mother of five children and loves her life!
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