with author Steve Truitt
how to find out who you can trust
Who do you trust? It’s a pretty good question, especially these days. People are now so savvy that we know pretty quickly when we’re being sold a bill of goods by someone who acts like it’s all about us— when it’s really about them! (Except for car salesmen... I really do believe they have my best interest at heart!)
But whether you’re buying a new Chevy or investing in a new relationship, trust can be a difficult thing to give away. Once-burned-twice-shy goes the American proverb, and it stands to reason that, based on past negative experiences (and we all have them), you’d be hesitant to jump blindly into a new situation without cautiously checking it out first.
Recently, I was able to coach a couple to a significant breakthrough in their relationship. For the past 20 years Barry had been the codependent husband, struggling daily with his wife Arlene’s alcohol addiction. His natural tendencies to fix Arlene, to save her, kept Barry in the relationship year after year, while his sense of self worth was validated through his good deeds and unimaginable patience. But after two decades of despair, Barry finally put his foot down and threatened to leave Arlene if she didn’t get her act together. That’s when I met them. In a rare case of double coaching, I decided to take them both on as clients at the same time. I worked with them separately at first, getting Arlene off alcohol and repairing the root causes of her misery. With Barry I focused on getting him to see that his pattern was that of a savior – stepping in to solve the problem that Arlene couldn’t on her own.
But something happened to the two of them that they weren’t prepared for. Arlene stayed sober and began to build her life as an independent, strong person. Barry didn’t know what to do with himself. As a savior and caretaker he was no longer needed, and he found himself clinging to the fear that she may relapse. Barry’s mistrust of Arlene’s commitment to sobriety was keeping his former self in play, causing a rift in their relationship. He used his mistrust of her sobriety as a mask for the fear that he was no longer useful – and perhaps no longer needed.
Barry realized that not trusting Arlene would only drive them further apart, and in order to re-create a relationship with his ‘new’ wife, he needed to be reborn as well. And that required trust. Barry and I came up with a plan to show Arlene his new commitment. He bought her a very simple, very special engagement ring and on one knee asked Arlene to marry him. Again. He told her that the ring was a a symbol of his trust and he wanted to remind her of his resolve. After 20 years of marriage, Barry and Arlene were brand new people eager to discover themselves and each other for the first time.
Earnest Hemmingway wrote The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them. And he’s right. Trust is not something to earn, it’s a gift you give knowing you may get hurt. But you give it anyway because you understand that life is risk and you are responsible for your choices.
Understanding that trust is a puppet without strings, a gift without a receipt, an “I love you” without the need for the return, will change the way you live and love your life. Because living life is not always about playing it safe. Sometimes a leap of faith is required, an act of blind trust is necessary to move forward – something we’re all here to do. So take that risk and trust someone – give it away and know that with good intentions and having your heart in the right place all will work out the way its supposed to.