Trust is one of the most difficult things to earn in this world, and one of the easiest to lose. It is the foundation of any strong relationship, and if you betray someone’s trust, it can be nearly impossible to get it back. It is hard to describe, yet we all know it when we feel it, and we recognize its importance in being close to others. Trust is vitally important, since none of us live in a vacuum and must rely on other people to varying degrees to live successful lives. For people such as myself, who rely on the assistance of others for nearly everything, the notion of trust becomes even more important.
It would make sense that our brains would treat trust and distrust as opposite ends of a continuum, but it turns out that this is not the case. Research has shown that distrust is located deep within the more primitive part of our brain’s limbic system, while the feeling of trust is found in the more evolved prefrontal cortex. This suggests that we have been hardwired to distrust others from an evolutionary perspective, which makes sense since if a cave man trusted the wrong person…well, he isn’t our ancestor. Trust then is a more recent, advanced function of modern man. We realized that by trusting each other and working together, we could make life much easier and safer. It is partly due to this physiological difference that trusting someone is hard and takes work, but we can be suspicious of a salesperson lying to us in a split second. Just because we have a biological slant towards distrust does not mean that we cannot trust others. In fact, I believe that it makes trust that much more special, since we have to try harder to attain it.
Being disabled, I have had to learn to build and maintain trust in order to go about my life. When I think about trust and its role in my life, there are 2 major things that jump out at me. The first is how I had to learn to trust my nurses to take care of me. Imagine, if you can, having a complete stranger come to your home and having to immediately, without ever having met them, place your complete trust in them to take care of you. On top of that, you have no defense if they decide to hurt you, steal from you, or harm you in some other way. This is my reality every time I get a new nurse. Now, my nurses have been checked out by the nursing agency, but you never know, and I have had nurses try to take advantage of me. In order to live my life the way I want to though, I had to learn to trust these people. I trust that they are good people here to help me, and I feel safe putting my life in their hands. It took me years to completely get to this point, and even longer for my parents I think, but now I have re-wired my brain to trust this way. Putting in the effort to build my ability to trust in this way has given me the life I have always wanted.
The other major idea that comes to mind when I think about trust also involves my nurses, but in a very different way. It is how my nurses have come to place their trust in me. As you spend years having the same nurses in your home, the relationship dynamic changes from one that is professional to one that is more personal. I have had nurses that were more like family than anything else. For a long time I thought that this feeling of closeness was mostly one way, but I now know that these nurses feel this bond as well. I have had several nurses tell me about problems they are having that they feel like they can’t tell anyone else. I have had them tell me about issues in their marriage, with their kids, or secrets from their past that they haven’t told hardly anyone. They tell me these secrets because they trust me. They trust me to keep their secret. They trust me to listen to them without judgment. They trust me to give them my honest opinion if they ask for it. They trust me to still love them and feel close to them no matter what they tell me. They trust me. This trust is something I value more than almost anything else in my life, because I know how hard it is to earn, and also how they must feel about me to trust me that much.
Trust takes a lot of work and is not something to be given too hastily, but the rewards it can bring are well worth the effort. Hopefully, you all have experienced the amazing feeling of having complete, unwavering trust in someone. It doesn’t happen often, but that is what makes it that much more special. Keep your guard up, but try to go through life being a little more trusting. Building trust will make you feel happier and strengthen your relationships with those around you. I guarantee the effort and time you put in to gaining complete trust with someone will be returned to you tenfold in the rewards it brings.