Woman and dog

It’s All About Trust

Trust is such a valuable — and rare — commodity these days. Yet, it is the foundation on which our ability to function rests. We are born with it. As newborns and toddlers, we must depend on and trust others for our very survival.

Sadly, for some, trust is shattered from the onset. For others, the loss of trust is gradual. Once we lose trust in others, we’ve lost trust in ourselves — and the Universe. When this happens, we have a choice. We can continue along the road of distrust or we can take the high road toward regaining trust. But how do we do that?

Developing Trust

Why is trust so important? All other traits rest on trust. Without it, we cannot achieve honesty, tolerance, gentleness, joy, defencelessness, generosity, patience, faithfulness or open-mindedness. Are these not worth pursuing?

Let’s look at how trust is developed in the first place. Developing trust takes time, courage and deep reflection on what you stand for and what you truly value. For guidance in this arena, I refer to A Course in Miracles, which examines six stages to developing trust:

fragile heart in handsA Period of Undoing

First, you must go through what might be called “a period of undoing.” At first glance, you might think of this as painful, but it need not be so. It seems like things are being taken away but it’s really about recognizing your lack of value. At this point, you’re not ready to make the internal shift entirely. So the plan sometimes calls for changes in what seem to be external circumstances, which are always helpful. Once you’ve learned that much, you’re ready to go on to the second stage.

A Period of Sorting Out

Next, you must go through “a period of sorting out.” This is always somewhat difficult because it involves re-evaluating what you value. Having learned that changes in your life are always helpful, you must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper you. You may find that many, if not most, things you valued before now hinder your ability to apply what you learned to new situations that arise. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It also takes courage to not fear loss and sacrifice. It is only to the extent these things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusions we live in. The word “value” can apply to nothing else.

hands receiving a giftA Period of Relinquishment

The third stage you must go through is ” period of relinquishment.” If you interpret this as giving up what is desirable, you may encounter tremendous conflict. Few will escape this distress entirely. However, there is no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. This period of overlap is apt to be one in which you feel called upon to “sacrifice” your own best interests on behalf of truth. After all, you can only trust what is truthful. If you feel distress, you have not yet realized how wholly impossible such a demand would be. No one is asking you to give up anything that is in your best interest. But you learn this only as you actually give up what is valueless to you. Only then do you realize that where you anticipated grief, you find a happy lightheartedness instead. Where you thought something was asked of you, you find a gift bestowed on you.

A Period of Settling Down

peace sign with wingsNow comes “a period of settling down.” This is a quiet time when you rest a while in reasonable peace. You’re consolidating what you’ve learned in the first three stages. Now, you begin to see the transfer of value of what you learned and you realize the potential is quite staggering. You see your way out of distrust. You’re giving up what you do not want and keeping what you do. How simple and easy to do is the obvious! However, you have not come as far as you think. Yet, when you’re ready to go on, you have some mighty companions at your side and you will not go on from here alone.

A Period of Unsettling

The fifth stage is “a period of unsettling.” Now, you understand that you did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All you really learned so far is that you did not want the valueless and that you did want the valuable. You simply learned the difference. However, the idea of sacrifice, so central to your thought system, made it impossible for you to judge. You thought you learned willingness, but now you see that you do not know what the willingness is for. And now, you must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for some time. You must learn to put all judgement aside and ask for only what you really want in every circumstance.

woman jumping for joyA Period of Achievement

Finally, there is “a period of achievement.” This is where the learning is consolidated. What you saw before as shadows become solid gains, which you can count on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Tranquility is the result of honest learning, consistency of thought and full transfer. You’ve reached the stage of real peace — nirvana. Peace of mind is complete. What could be more desirable than this?

Practising Trust

Now that you’ve successfully regained your trust, you want to maintain it. So, how do you sustain trust on a day-to-day basis?

  1. Have faith in your accomplishments. If you pass off your achievements as not being that important, they won’t be there for you when you need to rely on them. That is a sure way to interrupt the process of trusting yourself.
  2. Trust your instincts. You may not always be right, but you will be more often than not. An instinct is something you feel strongly about and does not only come from experiences. They come from within and cannot be explained. It’s part of that inner voice telling you what to do. You only need to listen. How many times have you said that you should have listened to your instincts?
  3. connected handsRely on others. This could be a tough one if you don’t trust to begin with. If you open yourself up to letting others into your life, you’ll find that you become more trusting of yourself. Whether you like it or not, you need other people. Humans are hard-wired to be social. You can’t possibly know everything there is to know about every subject. So, do yourself a favour and use the strengths of others to supplement what you know. It will reduce the burden of having to do it all yourself. And that will help open the possibilities to put trust in yourself. Besides, isn’t it time for everyone to realize how brilliant you really are?
  4. Try to filter out negative information. It’s in the news, at work, and in some cases, your home. The more you learn to focus on positivity in your life, the easier it is to trust yourself. A good first step is to avoid negative people who work hard at bringing you down.
  5. Take some chances. Trusting yourself sometimes requires a leap of faith. While you want to be smart regarding the risks you take and their consequences, you don’t want to over-analyze every decision you make. If you do, you’ll never make any decisions, and you will stagnate. It’s true that not everything will work out. But you never know until you try. The good news is you can always course-correct and choose to do something different. In the meantime, you’ll have learned something that could be very important going forward. Think of every miss-take as a lesson and you’ll be just fine.
The Journey Within: It’s All About Trust
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