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This Year’s Word: Trust (2/3)
10/29/2008 - Lia Hadley

The Oxford dictionary defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. How do I know whom I can trust? How do I decide, not only to what extent I can trust someone, but what this person can be entrusted with?

The easiest answer to the question, “How do I know whom I can trust?” is to ask, “Who do I trust at this moment?” and “Who have I trusted in the past?” If the list of people you trust presently contains the same names as the people you have always been able to trust, you’re probably one happy trooper.

In my case, I tend to trust people near-and-dear to me with information or in situations where I need a shoulder to cry on, or their truthful opinion, or their knowledgeable judgment. Sometimes I have trusted wisely, at other times very unwisely. What I have learnt is that even though it would be wonderful if we could trust our loved ones with everything, it is not always prudent to do so.

This is because trust has many dimensions. First, we must find someone who is equally committed to the outcome of the situation we are entrusting them with, as we are. I trust my husband with my worries about my impending unemployment (my work contract is coming to an end in two months’ time), not only because he loves me and cares about my concerns, but because our financial livelihood is dependent on my contribution.

Secondly, the person we trust has to have the required skill or ability to carry through that which we are entrusting them with. It is not prudent to trust someone with my life-savings, if they’re always living on the brink of financial disaster. Lastly, there is always an element of unpredictability, or risk, when we trust someone to do something. If there weren’t risk involved, then we wouldn’t be entrusting them, but just instructing or informing them.

When I reflect back over the last ten years on situations or persons who have failed to live up to my expectations, I asked myself why did they fail: lack of commitment or lack of skill? And, as it turns out, it is nearly always the lack of skill that is the central cause for the failure. Not only their skill is lacking, but also my sense of judgement. Why would I trust someone with something they have no ability to succeed in?


3 Comments From Other Members
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10/29/2008 Mary Allan Mill from St. Petersburg FL wrote:
It's rather like a dog chasing its tail, isn't it? To me, the main thing is with what am I trusting somerone? I am cautious to tell my daughter certain things, because she would worry herself to death, or think that I was loosing it becuase I couldn't figure it out myself. My son, after I tell him my concern, would say, "Maw, you can work it out yourself..." And so, I talk with myself (whom I kind of trust), and work it out.
10/29/2008 Lia Hadley from Luebeck SH wrote:
Mary, I loved your description of your talking to yourself (whom you kind of trust). I just can't seeing going through this journey of ours not being able to share the joys and worries. Maybe one's children are not the people to confide in, but there are hopefully friends.
12/9/2008 Dorothy Sander from Durham NC wrote:
There is always a risk involved in taking the step to trust someone with something. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. The only thing we can do is keep trying and using what we have learned to make better choices each time we take a risk. The only thing we cannot do is give up trying - if we do we will be giving up on relationships - and ultimately we need each other.

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