Looking Out for #1

I did some reading recently on trust because it seems to me that a lot of people let others walk all over them. It led me to wonder – how do you know someone is worth trusting and worth getting close to? If you trust those around you, will you ultimately be walked upon? Are people worth letting in??

(Image via Changeforce.com)

The first epithet I came across was this: “Those who are the most distrustful are generally untrustworthy, themselves.” This theory comes from the idea that like begets like – if you’re untrustworthy yourself, you may be looking for that quality in other people. In relationships, Psychology Today notes: “People who expect their partner to betray them are likely to beat them to the draw, and to make both of them miserable in the meantime.”  It’s a case of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you act like someone is untrustworthy only to find yourself betraying them before they “have a chance to pull the wool over [your] eyes.”  As one source, following the theories of Thomas Hobbes noted:

“Human beings can never feel truly safe from one another … at the same time, they are also profoundly untrustworthy because, being egoistic and distrustful, they would naturally take advantage of any opportunity to secure themselves at the expense of others.  A person who knows that he himself is in this sense untrustworthy is likely to assume that others are untrustworthy as well, and act accordingly.  Distrust … is thus perpetuated by interaction” (source).

The idea is simple: The most damaging impact of distrust is the paranoia that accompanies it – the preemptive tit-for-tat.  When you are distrustful of a coworker, you observe more of what they do.  When you feel betrayed by someone close, you may be on edge – waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In essence, “the focus of every transaction revolves around determining who has control and ensuring no one gets more than to which they are entitled … time and energy are spent policing, rather than developing” (source).  Waiting for something bad to happen becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Often, the people who are not prone to such tit-for-tat paranoia are those who are not concerned about whether or not they must trust those around them.  They are the people who don’t leave themselves in an overly-vulnerable position, yet they build a  ” reputation for trustworthiness by exposing vulnerability to the other … [and who] respond in kind to any trusting actions initiated by the other party” (source).  In short, the trusting person places their vulnerability in another person’s hands – but the trusting and trustworthy person knows who is a worthy recipient of their trust, and knows how to protect themselves in the event their trust is betrayed (source).  To become trusting, the trustworthy let only the right people in – and those people are the ones who keep them honest.  Our inner circle genuinely reflects our personal beliefs.  If we don’t monitor those beliefs, from time to time, according to our inner circle and our personal values, we may find ourselves disappointed when one of our “close” friends turns their back on us.

Choose wisely when considering your immediate circle.  The illustrious Hayden Tompkins from Through the Illusion turned me on to this article on toxic personalities that might help you assess who to keep at arm’s length and who to let in.  I primarily used the article as a tool to assess my own trustworthiness – since like attracts like.  I stacked up well, even though there are a few little areas of improvement (in some situations, I can be pessimistic – but with practice I’m overcoming obstacles!); the article showed me traits to be aware of both in myself, and in others.

With practice comes perfection and over time, your base of trusted confidantes will solidify along with your personal growth.  For added homework, read Ashe Mischief’s post on the Art of Self Love!

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PS. Want some more reads on the subject?? #1.  #2.  #3#4.

(Erin Pavlina’s article is a bonus – think about it both on its own and in this context!)