This Thing Called Trust :: Understanding It, Earning It, Losing It…Getting It Back?

We’re all human, right? Right…and as humans, we are not perfect beings. We have flaws, shortcomings and sometimes we mess up. Our mess ups can be in relationships, with family members, at work, at home or we can mess up something in our own personal lives.

More often than not, our mess ups with other people usually result in some level of trust being destroyed. (Notice I said “some level.”)

You can trust people on different levels and in different capacities without realizing it, but unfortunately I think most of us tend to associate trust as either a black or white concept, as and when it really isn’t.

I’ll admit that I have major trust issues. I don’t trust people easily 1.) because I’m an ultra-private person (despite me sharing my life on this blog) and 2.) because most people are not very trustworthy. Call me a cynic if you must, but when people are put to the test (either directly or indirectly) they’ll show you just how much you can “trust” them.

I no longer view trust as a black or white concept and I do trust people in different capacities. This took a lot of personal growth, by the way. Maybe I trust them to pay their portion of a bill, or maybe I trust them enough to let them watch my dog while I’m out of town or maybe I just trust them as the first person I’d call if I needed help. But trusting them to protect me or be honest about something they did or even come through on a promise – yeah, I’ll pass on that.

So, back to the original intention of this article…you can tell by the title I want your opinion on this thing we call “trust.” First, let’s define trust. Merriam-Webster defines trust as “an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent.”

Now that we understand what trust is, how do people earn our trust? I’ve been pondering this a lot lately. At what point do you know that you trust someone? When does the “trust earning process” begin?

I can’t say that a person starts off with a clean slate and you automatically trust them until they give you a reason not to; but I also can’t say that a person should be looked at with a side-eye until they show you that they can be trusted.

I truly believe that you have to key in to how you feel around that person. What is your body telling you? Are you relaxed around them or are you tense? What are you thinking when they talk to you? What are your emotions telling you? Let your feelings be the judge.

In the corporate world, companies earn trust by delivering on their promises to their consumers. Family members are usually trusted until they prove that they cannot be trusted. In relationships, I believe certain gestures shown by a person determine how much you can trust them. But once that trust is lost (here’s the million dollar question), can you ever get it back?

First you have to decide if you want to trust the person again. Is your relationship (any relationship, not just a romantic one) over and done? Or does parts of you want to restore the relationship? If part of you is not completely sold on your dealings with this person being over, then I think an attempt to restore the trust is worth a try.

Remember that no one is perfect and everyone at some point will make a mistake and deserve forgiveness for it. You may never, ever forget it and that’s OK – but forgiveness is a must for you to move on with your life in a positive way.

As I mentioned above, always trust your feelings and emotions around that person. If you are anxious, tense or feeling doubtful then maybe you’re not ready to trust them yet…and you have to be ready in order for it to work.

Lastly, take it slow! Take your time and don’t be in a rush. Although it can be lost in matter of moments, trust takes time to be built and even longer to restore once it has been lost. Don’t be discouraged if it isn’t happening as fast as you want it to.

Have you ever rebuilt trust with someone? What was that experience like?



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