Because we are all vulnerable, trust is one of the most important issues for human beings and especially for highly sensitive people who have a lot of awareness from all of the energy they take in.
What Is Trust?
According to the Free Dictionary, trust has many different faces. It is:
- about individual behavior and character as in the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
- about expectations: confident expectation of something or confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received
- about beliefs: one upon which a person relies: God is my trust.
- about keeping confidences: being entrusted with information, or valuables of some kind
- about position: the obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed: a position of trust.
- a position in which trust is necessary and assumed: the fiduciary relationship of trustee or the legal structure that protects property of some kind.
- commercial organizations set up to create monopolies (now illegal).
- it is an act of friendship. When we consider the needs of others we are acting to create social trust through friendship.
- it means we can be accepted and heard. Trust is a vote for the good in ourselves, others and life. When we see and believe in the good we are more open to ourselves and others.
- trust helps us develop confidence in ourselves. When we learn we develop skills and as a result are able to believe in ourselves. When we discover that we can learn one skill, we know that we can learn another skill and so our confidence grows.
- it is social glue that makes it easier for people to work and live together
- it can promote prosperity when institutions and businesses are trustworthy because it means people feel comfortable making investments in their communities.
Trust is the foundation of all healthy people, relationships and cultures. Without it no one can really thrive. So why is it such a challenge and even a problem?
Challenges To Trust
The lists above about trust also help us understand why trust can be a challenge:
- expectations and trust are highly correlated. When expectations are not met people lose trust.
- beliefs and trust are highly correlated. When people subscribe to the same beliefs there tends to be trust between them.
- similarity creates trust because we have some confidence about what to expect. It is the basis of conformity and the feelings of safety that come with it. It also means that being different can call up feelings of distrust.
All of these things, expectations, beliefs, and conformity are ways to create experiences that give people a feeling of safety. They are not intrinsically “bad” or “wrong”; however in a world that is ever changing and where diversity is the reality they can be maladaptive and create problems.
How Trust Can Create Distrust
All social systems create values and goals. They are generally fixed and are like marching orders for everyone. When people conform they feel successful and are appreciated. When they do not they feel like failures and can be marginalized.
What happens when conditions change? It may seem obvious that when conditions change people change with them but that is not always the case and if some adapt and others do not that can be a source of friction. Here is an example.
If you are living in a place where people make a living growing olives and over time the climate conditions make olive growing unsustainable then you need to find a new occupation. If your family has an olive farm then that might be difficult since there is a huge investment in making olives. Some members of the family will want to find ways to continue with olive farming, others may want to switch crops and others may leave to do something else.
In this case, olive farming has been the social and economic family glue. It is what everyone knows and trusts. Change over which no one had any control has destabilized what was a comfortable life. Some will feel that those who do not continue with olive farming are abandoning their family. Those that change may feel held back by those who are invested in maintaining the olive farming business.
The trust in the land, the farming business, the skills that everyone had to work in olive farming, and the ability to depend on each other has been eroded.
Trust when it is attached to a fixed idea is going to be challenged when conditions change. It does not matter what the situation is – change is inevitable as is the requirement that we adapt.
Trust And The Highly Sensitive Person
Highly sensitive people pick up on all of the energy around them and that includes all the discord and trust issues that are expressing themselves in the energy around them. In addition, because they are outsiders, they often feel the distrust of people who live from a different set of values or identity. Trust issues, however, are great food for thought. They are like the loose thread on a sweater that if we pull it we can discover a whole lot of things about ourselves and others.
We all want to feel safe. There is nothing wrong with that. However, what do we do when the price of that safety is too high? Do we give up too much of ourselves for a safety that is a fiction? Do we give even if we cannot afford to? What do we do when in order to be trusted by someone or a group we have to make huge sacrifices of ourselves?
Where do you draw the line? I would love to hear your strategies and answers.