We are taught to associate trust with people being honest, doing what they say, and trying not to hurt those they love. When we have given someone our trust and they fail on these counts, it’s usually surprising and painful.
But what if trust was more about consistency and predictability? What if we could trust a consistently dishonest person to do what they usually do, which is to be dishonest? That’s turning trust upside down.
I first learned this lesson decades ago when I was complaining to a mentor about a colleague who could never tell the truth. She always said the right thing and made the right promises, but when push came to shove, her word never meant anything. She was an important part of our team, but we just couldn’t count on her, and it left me angry and frustrated. My mentor said “Trust whatever she shows you consistently. If she lies consistently, then trust that she will lie. Move forward from there.” And I did! I was suddenly unstuck, and no longer attached to her behavior.
From there I translated the concept into as many situations as I could. If a friend was always late, I could trust that whenever we made plans, she would definitely be late…and I stopped rushing to be ready on time. When a colleague was consistently avoiding conflict by complimenting everything I did, I learned to trust that he never gives honest feedback…and I stopped taking the compliments at face value. And when I observe that someone is always gossiping about people when they aren’t around, I trust they will do the same with me, and become more selective when sharing information.
Once I started trusting these people for their consistent behavior, they never let me down again. The world started to look like a much more predictable place, which is all I really wanted out of trust anyway.
When I switched my focus to what I CAN count on, I learned a lot more about the people in my life. Rather than expecting everyone to be honest, to be reliable, to be open about their feelings, I realized that they weren’t even trying to be what I expected. They were happy with their own imperfections, and the sooner I could see them, the sooner I could make better decisions about interacting with them…or not.
For every client there also comes a time to trust what’s consistent in the world, so I teach it all the time. When your mother habitually asks for one simple favor and uses it to monopolize your entire day, learn to expect it…and maybe think twice about the favors. When your father consistently sends money to help out and then expects control in exchange, you can trust that his money will always have strings attached. And when your mother-in-law includes a large serving of guilt with every lunch invitation, don’t expect her to stop. Use her consistent behavior to weigh the invitations differently.
It can take a little time to see the patterns, but if you hold back your complete trust until you can see what you’re trusting, you’ll avoid plenty of frustration. When someone does show that they can be honest, reliable, and open you can bring them closer and reward them with more of the trust we all want to feel.
Time to transcend! This blog series is intended to challenge you by reaching beyond the status quo. If you are feeling resistance, consider that your ego is coming forward and presenting you with an opportunity to grow. This is where the magic happens! I'm here to help.