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How Do You Trust?

Recently, I had an enjoyable conversation with a colleague about trust. We had a lively debate about each of our own perceptions, experiences, influences, and understanding around the subject of trust. I walked away from that conversation with both an invigorated sense of trust and a feeling that we didn’t crack the code and that this was just two individuals’ own perceptions and experiences.

Trust is a subject with very sharp edges and the slightest disruption for an individual or in a relationship can cut deep. For example, in a relationship one partner might maintain contact with a previous partner through social media without telling their current partner. Is that a breach of trust? While trust can be a subject with very sharp edges, it is also a topic that can take many shapes and become difficult to understand, identify, and explain.

Each of us carries with us our own personal definition, relationship, and experiences with trust. There are several public sources that anyone at anytime can access to understand a common definition of trust, but each person’s own personal relationship and understanding of trust varies widely.

Often, when I am working with couples who have “trust issues” we spend a healthy amount of time discovering what trust means to each of them. For example, one partner may feel that the relationship must be 100% transparent. They want to know everything about the other partner’s past. While the other partner feels as though not everything needs to be shared. We explore several areas including personal trust, I.e., trust in ourselves, trust in relationships, trust in reality, trust in spirituality or a higher power, and their general history of trust, etc.

The objective is to begin to build a mutual understanding of how each partner has experienced trust over their lifespan and how it has shaped their belief, understanding, and relationship with trust. Once the couple can begin to be open to each other’s perspective we work on finding a mutual space that both partners feel safe and secure within. We explore the area of discomfort they are currently experiencing, as well as, begin the process of healing wounds from broken trust.

David Richo, Daring to Trust, writes about a concept of trust and how it develops from childlike to adult-like. Each of these types of trust are exhibited in different ways. For example, childlike trust may be exhibited as absolute reliability and predictability from another person, whereas adult trust appreciates reliability when it is offered. Another example of childlike trust may look like a requirement or dependency from others to soothe and comfort us, especially in stressful experiences while adult-like trust relies more on self-soothing, as well as, comfort from others when it is offered.

Furthermore, David Richo details how the development of trust evolves from a childlike rigid relationship, such as, this person will never leave me into a more flexible adult-like relationship demonstrated by allowing others to come and go as they need.

Which leads me back to the conversation with my colleague about trust and my own curiosity.

How do you trust?

I’d ask you to pause for a few moments and take a self-inventory. Ask yourself….

  • Where did you learn to trust?
  • What does trust mean to you?
  • How does trust look?
  • How does it feel?
  • What do you require from others to extend trust?
  • How do you repair trust that you’ve broken?
  • How do you allow yourself to trust again?

After you’ve reflected on how you trust take that information and share your truth with a friend, close colleague, your partner, and see how similar or different your perspectives may be. Feel free to share your thoughts with me as well! Email your experience to