The Fragility of Trust

A question I received from a friend this morning coincided with something I was considering yesterday. I wondered why it’s sometimes easy to trust, and at other times it’s nearly impossible. Why does it seem so easy for some to walk away from depression, while others are haunted with it for most of their lives? In fact, why is depression so closely linked to issues of trust and betrayal?

I think that sometimes it’s a balance we have to strike between wanting to trust, and not caring about the potential of betrayal. At some point we will accept that there’s a certain amount of risk we’re willing to take because we’re confident enough to deal with the consequences of a potential breach of that trust. So the reality is that we trust more easily when we have a greater sense of self, or perhaps a greater level of confidence in our ability to be resilient in the face of betrayal. Unfortunately the very nature of the issue drives us to defend or protect our fragility and vulnerability in the aftermath of betrayal, and quite quickly, without noticing, we end up stuck in that cycle not realising that we’re only as vulnerable or as fragile as our ability to rise above it.

I’ve previously said that a healthy self-esteem is the greatest gift any parent can give their child. That self-esteem must inform the way they view themselves, their choices, and the associated outcomes. It must teach them that no matter what bad things may happen to them in life, the only part of the encounter that defines them is how they chose to respond, and never what was presented. The power of choice, and more importantly, the realisation of that power of choice, is the key to unlocking our resilience. But resilience, like happiness and humility, are only end states, but not a skill or trait in itself. Our belief in our own principles and convictions, and our courage to stand up for it in the face of ridicule is what determines (in part) our level of resilience.

Unless we believe in ourselves, we’ll find it impossible to believe in anyone else, and by extension, it will be impossible to trust. Under such circumstances, it’s easy to confuse a hopeless surrender and dependence on others as trust. When we undermine ourselves, we empower our enemies, and like they say, the friend of my enemy is my enemy. So it stands to reason that that is how we become our own worst enemies.

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