Trust is a gift you give someone. No one is actually trustworthy. Really. I know you may argue with me about that, but if you think about it, when survival is at stake, we will do whatever we need to, including betray a trust. I realize that is hard to get, because we like to think of ourselves as trustworthy and good people. I sure do. Yet, if you allow yourself to see past not being good, you will see the reality of what I am saying here.

Trust is powerful. At the core of all great relationships, there must be trust. I am not just talking about personal friendships, family relationships, intimate relationships. You must trust the company you work for, the people you work with, the companies you do business with, the people you affiliate professionally with. It is a critical and necessary ingredient for all of us.  When that trust is broken, it is a problem, and can cause anything from an upset all the way to a crisis. Why?

When you and I trust, we stimulate our neurochemicals in a positive way. This allows us to create a bond with someone and that connection further stimulates our brain. When we are in this state, we are at tap into our brilliance, our creativity and our ability to solve complex problems and situations. The hormones of connection are powerful and emotional. They allow us to be vulnerable and share ourselves. It is important to our survival.

When trust is lost or broken, there is a threat and our brains respond in the natural protective mechanism of fight, flight, freeze or appease response. We get upset. We react. We can’t think critically. We start doubting ourselves. We lose confidence. We wonder about our own judgment– after all, if I trusted someone and they betrayed me, that means I screwed up and thus I should not trust my own judgment. This is true for most of us, whether it is a person we know well or a company that betrayed us.

I have had many instances of this, personally and in my career. I will share a couple of incidents of betrayal and loss of trust. First, when we built our pool a few years ago, I thought I did all the right research- I got several competing bids, I called and personally spoke to references and I saw the product the company put in. Then they built the pool. The final step included a sub-contractor who put the final finish on. That was a disaster. The pool looked like it had skin cancer with large white patches on this gray mottled surface and it was so rough in places that it cut my granddaughter when she sat on the bench. Ok, I thought- “Things happen, and this company will make it right”. Not so. We went through an 18-month ordeal where the pool contractor was so mad at the sub-contractor and put us in the middle of their legal fight. We had to file suit and settle with the insurance company. I was left with having my trust in this company betrayed and thinking I must have done a poor job at vetting them. Self-doubt.

Then, there was the personal friendship that I had for many years where my trust was betrayed- but not in such a clear way. I was very close to my friend, visiting her when she moved, supporting her through her rocky relationship and divorce, supporting her when she was ill and then suddenly, she stopped calling, did not return calls and basically has been a ghost for over a year. I keep wondering what I did wrong. Self-doubt again.

What I have realized and why I share this with you, as this happens frequently throughout our lives and our careers. What I have realized is that TRUST IS A GIFT. When you give a gift, you give it freely with no expectation of something in return. I must choose to trust and give someone the gift of my trust. If they betray my trust, I will deal with it. A powerful way to deal with it is to realize that everyone is always doing what they think is right at the moment of time in which they do it. Whatever they did, that for me, was a betrayal of trust, was logical to them and likely, what they thought was necessary for themselves at the time. If you were walking in their shoes, dealing with their circumstances, you may have done the same thing.  When you realize that, you can bring compassion to them.

Forgiveness is also a gift, to them for sure, but a real gift to yourself. It is a gift that allows you to restore your confidence and trust in yourself. To forgive is to give as before whatever happened.

Give the gift of trust. Trust yourself and trust others. Forgive. You can handle whatever happens.