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by David Truman

How to develop trust
Distrust is supposed to work for protection, but there's a problem with distrust: Every human heart wants and needs intimacy, but distrust puts satisfactory intimacy out of reach.
Distrust is today's most deadly epidemic. Are YOU infected? You're certainly exposed to the deadly germ everywhere! When you're considering any significant human involvement, your friends probably warn you to be careful -- reminding you, in so many words, that you should be suspicious and distrustful. That's how fear spreads -- from mouth to mouth, person to person, parent to child, friend to friend. It's all a process of indoctrination. And the tragedy is, this sickness is readily accepted by its victims, who believe it to be a cure. The Doctrine of Doubt has become the standard prescription for every social disease. The trouble is, doubt IS a disease -- and a deadly one at that.
The epidemic of distrust
Doubt -- doubt of life, and mostly, doubt of PEOPLE -- has driven humanity into the shadows of profound alienation. More and more, people are staying to themselves, huddled in corners, avoiding relationship of every kind. People are constantly looking over their shoulders: fearing; suspecting; distrusting; judging others guilty until proven innocent. This plague of doubt has eroded the foundations of true -- trusting -- human society. [See related material in "Trust and Spiritual Growth."] TOP
How can intimacy work when we routinely assume that almost everyone is liable to hurt us? There goes all hope for harmonious marriage. There goes the deep association of human beings altogether! It should be obvious by now: Doubt can't cure everything -- particularly ALIENATION. How can doubt cure the epidemic of distrust? People evoke from each other what they expect of each other. To BECOME trustworthy people need to be trusted.
Distrust has reached alarming proportions because it is being spread by so many means. Society as a whole is PROMOTING this massive epidemic. Not only do our family members and friends recommend caution and doubt, but so do our primary social institutions. And of course, our own self-protective, egoic instincts strongly approve of doubt and distrust in all forms.
The helping professions. Even the helping professions don't know HOW to trust. Most likely, your support group and your psychologist and your self-help teachers don't have trust either. Most of society's helpers and leaders get paid for saying that other people are not to be trusted. And the doubt peddlers have plenty of buyers, because irresponsible people love scapegoating: "It's THEIR fault!"
Religion. You'd think religion would champion trust among the members of God's family, but even religion is used to justify distrust. For example, Christian concepts like original sin and Satanic temptation "explain" why people are inherently untrustworthy. [Click here to read more about the "Christian" recipe for distrust.] And the idea, espoused by many religions, that God is the only one you can really trust gives an official "blessing" to the feeling that mere mortals are NOT to be trusted. [Click here to read more about God is the ONLY one you can trust.]
Personal survival fears. An interesting thing about doubt is the double standard involved. The doubt-inspired assumptions we make about others are so HORRIBLE we'd be sincerely shocked and upset if others were to assume such things about US. We should be BOTHERED by that double standard, which is quite obviously the direct opposite of Christ's Golden Rule! In all good conscience, we SHOULD think of others as we would have them think of us. Unfortunately, where distrust is concerned, we are willing to even go against our own conscience, because we believe that distrust is the only way to protect ourselves.
What a lie that really is! On every level you want to think about -- personally, interpersonally, nationally, and internationally -- distrust brings people to ruin. Therefore, we need to face the fact that doubt does NOT protect us or enhance our survivability. If anything, doubt makes US an endangered species.
When your vision is blurred by fear, you can't even trust yourself
Now, even if we don't trust OTHERS, you'd think our double standard would let us trust OURSELVES. However, we "know better": Once we've been around the block a few times, we all know that trusting ourselves isn't always a good idea. Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying about that: "My best thought got me to where I am today" -- meaning, my best thought put me into the ditch. The truth is, in this chilling, untrusting world, our thinking is not at its best. [Click here to read more about distrusting people distrusting themselves.] TOP
How to develop trust
Despite everyone it has to recommend it, distrust is the biggest danger of all. Once we are infected with distrust, we become unable to trust others, God, OR ourselves. Then we end up isolated and desperate. If we REALLY want to protect ourselves, the safest thing to do is to release distrust altogether, everywhere we find it. Here's how to reduce distrust and develop trust: TOP

Release sources of distrust IN OURSELVES. In order to move from the position of relatively great distrust into the position of relatively great trust, the ONLY way is this: Look at the sources of distrust in ourselves, and get rid of them. We will find, at the bottom of our distrust, a set of negative assumptions -- assumptions that were created and are fed by our own habits of displacement, projection, and justification. By owning and changing our own negative presumptions, we take the onus off the world around us, and put responsibility back where it belongs: on ourselves. To do that sincerely and uncompromisingly is the ONLY way to escape the position of distrust.

2. Release distrust based in the past. One source of distrust is our expectations from the past. We have psychological scars that create fear in the present, and fear of the future. We need to release the past and walk forward, in a spirit of openness, into a brighter present and future. Part of releasing the past is this: Don't spread the disease, by preaching caution "learned" in past experiences. It's well known that we always LEARN what we teach.

Release distrust in relationships. Once we have released the past, we must actually approach people in this new spirit of trust, and let them prove their trustworthiness in a climate in which it is finally POSSIBLE to do so.

4. Use mental discipline. In order to MAINTAIN an attitude of trust, it is necessary to REFRAIN from the habits that built distrust in the first place:
misbehaviors and dramatizations that create shame and defensiveness
strategic displacement of personal responsibility, through the use of justification and rationalization of our own wrongdoing
negative, unsympathetic, uncompassionate thinking in general
It should be taken as a given that if these disciplines are NOT scrupulously adhered to, we cannot truly eradicate distrust in our hearts and minds.

Be trustworthy and non-injurious. People will trust you much more if you are trustworthy than if you are not. In that sense, trust is something you can earn. People will also trust you much more if you are consistently compassionate than if you are occasionally hurtful.

People who don't trust are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Now you know how to be part of the solution!
By the way, if you want HELPFUL assistance with trust, you've got to find people who really are getting along, people who really know how to love, and whose friends will enthusiastically testify to that. Such people are rare, but then again, how many do you really need? They can be found. By their fruits you will know them! Find people like that, and do as they do.

by David Truman

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