Unpacking Trust

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Encarta Dictionary defines trust as: Confidence in and reliance on good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor, or ability. The definition also includes references to: position of obligation, hope for future, and care. What does that really mean? How does trust factor into our self-view and relationships?

For a very long time, I have experienced a karmic pattern that relates to self-awareness and the experience of being the target for others ego driven projections. I realize this is by no means uncommon; however, my personal history involves an ongoing pattern that I (and those that know me well) cannot deny. It is a karmic theme for this lifetime. Ever the optimist, I still cling to the dream that someday I will heal my karma and transcend the drama that comes from being the target for another’s projections. In the meantime, it still catches me by surprise!

Trust, in a similar fashion to anger, initially can present itself as an issue that is tied to an external source. But, underneath the ego’s defenses to defer attention from oneself, is the usual suspect: We are the source. Even when we have valid reasons to trust or not trust, to be angry, and so on, deep down, we are questioning our ability to trust in ourselves. All of that can create fear and anxiety that easily spawns anger.

Welcome to the delusion fest! Dukkha is here to dance. Sukha is hiding in the corner. Why did I buy into that? Why do I keep finding myself in similar positions? Why did I trust that someone else would take responsibility for his or her own neuroses and unskillful behavior? I must be stupid! If I’m stupid, then I can’t be trusted to be kind and wise with myself. And, that means that I can’t be trusted to discern and respond appropriately. Wahoo, the party goes on, and here comes the hangover.

There is hope. I am stronger, less reactive, and better able to discern where my responsibilities lie. I am able to observe the screaming monkey mind and gently nudge clarity and patience into the conversation. Instead of jumping in and taking more than my share of the blame, I can say no, not this time. I can observe another person’s antics without feeling responsible.

For me, that’s what trust is really about. Trusting that I can behave in a skillful and kind manner in spite of being overwhelmed energetically by the plea of another to take what isn’t mine. To trust that even when another is projecting blame and denying responsibility, that I can still be kind to me. To trust, that even though another person is convinced that I am responsible for how she or he feels, I do not have to believe it.

Once again, I am reminded of the human condition that seems so easily prone to doubt one’s worth. This is not the middle way. Attachment to value and recognition is as delusional as abusing and bullying oneself into believing that self-view is a good driver. Sure, validation and appreciation can feel good. But, what happens when they’re not available? Then we are stuck with the disappointment which can pave the way for ego needs to trump wisdom and awareness. Consequently, I’m hesitant to trust praise any more than blame.

So it is that I find myself once again at the crossroads of self-reliance. I cannot depend on anything or one outside of myself to determine my value, worth, or ability to genuinely embody wisdom and awareness. It’s not an easy path. I’m not an authority, but I’m pretty sure the Buddha never said the path to freedom from suffering was an easy one. He did say to hang out with the wise, so that does call into question: Who do we place our faith and trust in?

I think that trust embodies faith. As the definition suggests: Hope for future and care. I hope for caring and kindness in my life and my relationships with others. I seek out the areas within that undermine trust and kindness. I recognize that trust nurtures confidence. Confidence can diminish fear and anxiety. Space is created. Observation and transcending like and dislike are supported. Wisdom can take over the driver’s seat and equanimity prevails.

© Sallie Odenthal 2013

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