October 19, 2015
Radical Love: Throwing ‘Trust’ Under the Bus, Part I
I would like to share a rather tricky concept which I discuss with some of my clients as they struggle with their painful fears around money, fidelity, career, loyalty, and vows. I primarily speak about this concept with my prenuptial clients, if an appropriate time arises, as they are usually in search of tools to build their relationship; whereas, it comes up only rarely with my divorcing clients as it would more be applied to their situation from the idea that maybe the pain of today is due to an aspect of the foundation of their relationship long-cemented in the past and hence unchangeable.
In its pithiest terminology, the concept is expressed in eastern philosophy as: trust no one. And, ouch, this concept needs a little unpacking in light of our common cultural notion that trust is the ultimate bedrock of a strong relationship whether it is romantic, familial, or friendship. So, first, let us take a step back to see what we mean by trust.
Trust is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as: “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”
For most of us, the giving and receiving of trust honors the expression of virtues we all want to experience in our life: courage, loyalty, honesty, generosity, empathy. But by taking a second look at the definition of trust above, you’ll see the often overlooked, unexamined underbelly of trust: trust as we typically see it entails having faith in others, necessitates we believe in them. And it is this underbelly which creates so much havoc in our lives, because the betrayal of trust, the breaking of faith, is always in the eye of the beholder—the other person—which leaves us, to varying degrees, in a prison of their potential judgment of us. For instance, I am someone who through natural inclination has a martial arts orientation of striving to express the virtues through all my actions; yet there are people whom I love who call me betrayer. Twenty years ago, I promised a man I’d stay married to him forever and it took me years to reconcile that I’d lied to him and my step-daughters with that vow. Back then, I would sometimes look in the mirror amazed and deeply pained to learn that life is so complicated that yes, while I strive to always be virtuous, I am also someone who has betrayed. In agreeing to end my marriage, I was expressing the virtues of courage, strength, and honesty and at the very same time, I was also betraying the trust of my ex-husband and step-daughters. And now all these years later, I am realizing that trust as we typically see it, with its notion of virtues we all hold dear obscuring that it also requires belief and faith to be projected onto others, might mean that trust as a foundation for a relationship might best be thrown under the bus.
Big Picture Thinking
So taking a deep breath, let us consider what might happen if we unhitched the notions of trust and love. This would mean that when someone we love tells us who they are and what they want we could accept that they are telling us the truth for now. It would mean we would have to invest in our love relationships by constantly getting to know the new them and the new us who evolve naturally over time. It would mean we would have to constantly keep good boundaries and communication with others and rely on our own judgment about what is best for us. If we do not trust others, but instead just love and accept them, we could admire others when they express virtues, continue to strive to embody them ourselves, revel in right action, yet not have the mechanism of judgment cloud our relationships. It would leave us free to trust just one person, ourselves, and to heed the call of our life purpose while having eternal gratitude for like-minded loved ones who choose to accompany us for a time on our path. It would lead to being loved and loving others based on freedom, not expectations.
Small Picture Thinking
Admittedly, the Big Picture Thinking, above, about this concept might be inspiring on one level, but how would we put the concept into action in the context of lives with businesses, mortgages, child-care conundrums, and/or the regular demands and expectations that are part of sharing everyday life with someone? Part II will address how these Big Picture Thinking notions get put into practice using a Small Picture Thinking view.