Friday, June 15, 2012

on trust and independence

I've been thinking about trust a lot lately and was surfing the internet to see if anyone else had crystallized the link between independence and trust that is starting to form in my brain.  My search results were mostly banks and insurance companies and (unfortunately) not usable quotes or nuggets of genius, so I was disappointed.  But the more I thought about it, the more that actually made perfect sense.

As I see it, there is an inverse relationship between trust and independence.  The more independent I am, the less I have to trust others.  And the less I have to trust others, the more independent I am.  This may be exactly what the banks and insurance companies have already realized -- people want trust AND independence.  They want to be able to trust when they need to, but to stay independent when they don't.  Because trusting other people is risky, and independence, while lonely, means never getting your heart broken.

I think of trust like climbing up a tree -- I only climb as high as the branches where I know that when I jump, I'll land on my feet.  Which is to say, I only trust people as far as I can take care of myself.  So it's not really trusting them much at all.  Asking someone to be there for you when you can, in all reality, take care of yourself is like a safety net over an air cushion -- nice, but extra.  I've gotten so good at taking care of myself that I can climb pretty high up in the tree, so I may seem really trusting, but when it comes to the moment of faith, I nestle one branch below or leave the tree entirely.

The problem is, I don't think this is working.

In my effort to be self-reliant, I have atrophied my trust muscles.  Out of a fear of being too needy, I have choked off my ability to effectively need others at all.  And this is sending mixed signals -- "I trust you, but I don't need you."  

I don't have a quick solution to this situation.  But I am slowly finding ways of trusting other people, and scaling back my own need and willingness to take care of everything myself.  Which, in and of itself, is a step towards trust.

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