The concept of trust plays a huge role in our relationships. For a relationship to feel good, we need to be able to trust the other person. But what the hell does that really mean? For most people trust may be important, but it is like an abstract concept. If it’s an abstract concept, what the hell are you supposed to practically do to create trust? That’s what I’m going to clear up for you today.
The spiritual field is full of people who were never able to rely on anyone. People let them down and so they had to turn towards something else for a sense of connection and support. And that thing they turned to was spiritual practice, the Universe at large or God. It is a beautiful initiation, but it is also a method of coping. I’ll say this more clearly… spiritual practice can be a big fat way of coping with not being able to rely on anyone in your life. This means that many people in the spiritual field are going to use universal truths, or invent truths, that justify and reframe that feeling of not being able to rely on anyone or anything into a good thing.
Here are some examples: “Follow your own guidance system and let everyone else worry about following their own guidance system and then you can trust yourself to act in your own best interests and you can trust other people to act in their own best interests too and this way you will never have to put the power over the way you feel in their hands. You will not be dependent on them to make you happy.” Or “Everything you could possibly want or need is inside you”. Or “The only person you can truly trust is yourself”. Or “The only person who can fill up your cup and make you happy is you.” Or “Don’t let your happiness depend on anything outside you.” Essentially, these ideologies, while they can be empowering in some situations, promote the idea that there is something pathetic and less spiritual and powerless about trusting someone. And you know what the side effect is? People who are empowered in their independence who have REALLY crappy relationships.
I’m going to make trust simple for you. To trust someone is to feel as if you can rely on them to capitalize on your best interests. Sit with that definition for a moment. Let it sink in. This is as scientific as you can get with what trust actually is. Notice I did not say that trust is about being able to rely on the fact that they will put your best interests above their own? Nor is it making them fully responsible for your happiness. It is being able to rely on the fact that they will capitalize on your best interests. And this is what makes a relationship worth being in.
Keep in mind that as we continue to awaken and as our perspective continues to expand, our view on what actually is in our own best interest will change. But this doesn’t get to be your excuse to usurp someone’s idea of their own best interest. In a relationship, you don’t get to say, “you have no idea what your actual best interest is, so I’m going to do things my way because ultimately it’s for your own good.” This is what our parents did. This is in fact the main way we lost trust to begin with. We so often think distrust is all about the big betrayals, when in reality the glue of distrust is other people not honoring our feeling about what our own best interest is as opposed to theirs.
This may seem abstract in a personal setting but consider this in a business setting. Imagine one company laying out their best interests in a merger and the other company saying “well you don’t know what is actually the best for your company and I think that what’s best for your company is my terms, so we’re just gonna do that… sign on the line”. That would not fly. The company would simply pack up and leave. No merger. But in our personal relationships, it’s not so easy. We have a lot more on the line. This is where boundaries are violated and distrust occurs and resentment is created.
To understand this using an example, let’s say there is a couple. Person A in the relationship decides it is in his best interests to go sleep with someone he just met. But the best interests of person B is for the relationship with person A to be exclusive and committed. This means person A did not capitalize on person B’s best interests. So, person B cannot trust person A. Person A is playing a zero sum game, where one person wins and the other loses. When Person A had conflicting needs from Person B, he did not consider Person B’s best interests and did not have a conversation to resolve the needs conflict in a way where both Person A and Person B’s best interests are considered.
We are more familiar with the way trust actually works in the corporate world. When 2 companies negotiate on terms in a business relationship, they are essentially trying to find a solution or agree to terms that satisfy the best interests of both companies. A personal relationship is the same. This is why compatibility is so important in a relationship. If the needs and wants are too different between two people, there will be no way to actually capitalize on both people’s best interests at the same time. It will turn into a zero sum game. And then, inevitably, a relationship will end.
A relationship is a connection. A genuine connection is not a burden (like some people would paint it out to be) it is a gift. To love someone is to take them as yourself. It is the experience of oneness in physical form. The minute you do that, your happiness can no longer be divisible from their happiness. To hurt them, is to hurt yourself. So it no longer works to capitalize on your own best interest to the detriment of theirs. Essentially, the minute you get into a relationship and someone gives you that connection, it is as if they handed over the most vulnerable part of themselves to your care. Some may call this disempowerment. I will tell you that it is quite the opposite. It is the highest form of bravery to take that risk. Both the risk of giving and taking that vulnerable aspect of your being.
Many people who dislike the idea of trust, promote the idea that a good relationship is two self focused people who are both completely responsible for their own happiness, who occasionally meet in the middle to have sex and watch a movie or whatever together. I have never seen a successful relationship that functions like this. This is a relationship based on distrust. And a relationship based on mutual distrust is functional only because there is a mutual agreement to stay separate and not expect each other to capitalize on each other’s best interests.
Trust is the basis of a genuinely connected, successful relationship. And in that kind of agreement, two people agree that because they are unified, they will hold responsibility for not only their own best interests but also their partner’s best interests.
It is so critical in every situation you find yourself in to be brutally honest with yourself about what you feel in your heart is your actual best interest. It is critical to really get honest about what you really need and really want. This way you can communicate that to the other person. Only then can there be a meeting of minds where you find a win-win for both parties’ best interests. You need to sit down and do some reflection and get really clear on this to be on the same page with someone you are in a relationship with. For more about this, watch my YouTube video titled: “Get On The Same Page”.
Without going too much further into it, I want to jump into an exercise that would serve you immensely to use in your relationships so that you can preserve and create trust in your relationships. Consider this your tutorial for how to care for your connection. A while back, I did two Ask Teal episodes that went had in hand. The first was “Attunement”. The second was “The Octopus Technique”. I highly suggest watching both videos if you haven’t already so that you can fully comprehend the concept of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It will take this technique to the next level.
Obviously if trust is about capitalizing on someone’s best interests, you have to actually know what their best interests are. To know what someone’s best interests are, you have to be willing to have intimacy with them. Intimacy is seeing into someone, feeling into them, hearing them and understanding them as deeply as you can.
So, you’re going to sit down and imagine that you are leaving your own identity and preferences and perspective behind. You are going to imagine going into their perspective. Being them. Feeling how they feel, thinking how they think, wanting what they want, needing what they need. You’re going to attune to them to the degree that you feel you’ve lost your own identity and you are them. From that perspective, make it your responsibility to specifically feel into what their best interest actually is in whatever circumstance they are in or you are in together. What do they really want and really need? Even if you can see that what they subjectively think their best interest is, is not in alignment with what is objectively in their best interests, make yourself acutely aware of what their subjective best interest is; as if it is valid. Lose yourself in this journeywork of discovering their best interests.
When you come out of the experience, now knowing what their best interest is, reflect on how you can best capitalize on that best interest. If you can see that your best interest conflicts with theirs, now is the time to seriously brainstorm finding a win win for both you and them. Make it a game that you play. If there is no way to create a win win, then the relationship itself has to be addressed. It means you are headed towards an unintentional betrayal of trust.
If you want, you can do this exercise with the other person at the same time. Sitting together in meditation, switch places and become aware of each other’s perspectives and therefore best interests. Then openly communicate about what you perceived. Simply communicating that you are exploring their best interests, builds trust. Then, based on that, come up with a win win scenario which allows you to rely on each other to capitalize on each other’s best interests.
Doing this exercise may seem simple and it is. But this simple exercise is the one thing we do not do when we are in relationships. We do not become aware of, or consider people’s best interests before we act in our own best interests. And the terrible thing is that it can take one minute to destroy trust and years to rebuild it.
But don’t panic because trust can be rebuilt. If you have lost someone’s trust, trust is rebuilt through demonstrating that you can be relied upon to be aware of and capitalize on their best interests. If you have lost trust in someone, it is also rebuilt by being brave enough to place the vulnerability of your best interest in their hands again. Building trust in a relationship is really as simple as being aware of and capitalizing on each other’s best interests. It is as simple as finding a meeting of minds about what a win win scenario actually is.
Don’t usurp your own best interests with other people’s best interests. But keep mindful of your connection with the people you love at all times. Before you act, ask yourself if your action is in alignment with the other person’s best interests or if your action is in opposition to their best interests. If your action is in opposition to it, you quite literally should not be trusted in that circumstance by them. Develop your intimacy and attunement with people to the degree that you know what people’s best interests actually are. And know that if you are in a relationship, it is in fact in your best interests to capitalize on the other person’s best interests and for them to capitalize on yours.