There are lots of ways to think about trust.
It seems that trust is discussed often as something that is owned by another. You have to “earn their trust.” It’s “up to them” whether or not “they” will trust you. We say and think things like “I can’t trust you.” or “Why don’t you trust me?” Or we try to prove ourselves “trustworthy,” as if trust is a prize that some other person has the right to bestow upon us – or not.
This mindset causes all sorts of dysfunctional behavior. People justify lying – ironically – because they think the truth would make them seem untrustworthy. They resent their partners for not being trustworthy, or for being untrusting. They lie because they want to be trusted. They believe each other when inside they know they shouldn’t – because they don’t want to be unkind and distrustful. Trust can become a minefield.
What if we think about it differently?
What if we think about trust being written in the sand?
You know that saying “Life is a Beach?” Imagine when you meet someone that you are both on the beach. You each have a stick of driftwood. You’re each writing your life’s story in the sand. When you come together and decide to interact with each other – you are relating to one another. Whether it’s a friendship or romance, a family member, or business partner, from this moment on trust – or the lack of it – is effecting your relationship.
Trust between you is a word that you carve into the sand together. Sometimes the sun comes out and all is calm and neither of you needs to really pay much attention to trust. It just exists without difficulty.
But sometimes one of you may accidentally fall or even purposefully kick sand on the word and mess up the writing. Sometimes a gust of wind might erode the writing, it may be in danger of disappearing.
So long as you’re both standing there together, it’s up to both of you to keep trust in existence. It’s not something one of you owns or the other one deserves. It’s something that keeps a connection between you. It provides clarity and a foundation for growth and allows the relationship to function.
If trust erodes, the relationship will too.
If someone acts in ways that erode trust in your relationship – allow them the chance to rewrite those letters. You can support them through it, but you cannot do it for them. You cannot rewrite trust that someone else has erased.
When you lie, or omit, or cheat, or act in ways that hurt someone, trust becomes eroded. Don’t think about it in terms of “I hope they can trust me again” …because they don’t own trust. Think about it in terms of “I need to work really hard to rewrite these letters in the sand because trust is fading between us. (And maybe we should build a wind buffer for extra protection.)”