Trust as a Practice

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

How Do We Build Trust?

I'm often asked by those with whom I work: "how do I build trust?" or "how do I know who to trust." The reality is that trust is a practice that we, implicitly or explicitly, engage in each day.

We trust that we will be safe. In the absence of safety, we trust that there is recourse to seek retribution for harms done. We trust that those close to us will respect and honour our boundaries. We trust that our healthcare practitioners will treat us with integrity or do right by our health. We trust that in the possibility that we will be seen for who we are. We trust people will see our intentions.

Trust is also attitudinal - meaning - it's how we orient ourselves to the world around us. In the absence of experiential evidence for a trusting attitude, we have to explicitly practice trust, or not,  people, places, and or systems.  For people who experience trauma and or chronic adversity, the notion that trust is a practice is intuitive, albeit it takes our spirit emotionally. 

Many of us take the notion of trust for granted until something disruptive occurs that erodes our capacity to trust. The idea that one must choose to practice to trust leaves one feeling unsettled and vulnerable. Am I willing, able, or prepared to take the risk to trust again? 

I have been confronted with the question of how do I trust without guarantees? How do I know if someone is trustworthy. The below formula is the means by which I assess my practice pf trust after years of grappling with the question of trust personally and professionally. It's important to remember that trust isn't static or an all-or-nothing proposition. Trust exists on continuum. Not everyone deserves to bear witness to our inner most world without working for our trust.

I frame trust as a practice, because trust is not fixed, but is mutable. To practice trust, we take small relational risks; in so doing we mitigate the potential for harm because we are not 'letting it all hangout,' so to speak. When people respond with small acts of reciprocal vulnerability premised on mutual authenticity and realness - trust begins to emerge. Therefore, trust is a practice that is emergent as it expands or recedes in response to our relational experiences. 

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