How do we know when we should trust someone? When our expectations haven’t been met or we have been disappointed by someone we trusted, it can be difficult to trust again.
Trust is Adaptive
Human beings are born with the ability to trust because it increases our likelihood of survival. When we are in need, it is often to our advantage to believe that others can assist us and allow them to do so. Trust is openness to experience. People who are open minded and welcome new experiences learn more than people who close themselves off from the world. Trusting someone means that you are suspending judgment of them until you have enough information rather than prejudging them. It means that you are treating them as “innocent until proven guilty”. Wouldn’t you want to be treated that way?
Like anything good, trust must be used appropriately and in moderation. Too much trust, such as being foolish or naive, can make us vulnerable to danger. It is important for survival that we are able to detect true danger and avoid or eliminate it wherever possible. It would be foolish for a person to treat the ocean like a swimming pool or a lion like a house cat. We all learn through our experiences to detect risk and respond accordingly.
If you were frequently disappointed or betrayed by important people in your life when you were a child, this might make it harder for you to trust as an adult. However, once you become an adult, you have some control over who you allow in your life and how you are treated. While a child is at the mercy of others, an adult can set boundaries and remove themselves from harmful influences. If you find yourself being disappointed and betrayed repeatedly as an adult, you must take some responsibility by asking yourself what role you are playing and how you can change it. It might be because you are:
surrounding yourself with untrustworthy people and ignoring the danger signs
maintaining rigid criteria for trustworthiness and over- or under-identifying trust violations
failing to communicate your wants and needs and assuming others should just know how to treat you