We Need Trust to Thrive

We Need Trust to Thrive

My world without trust

I grew up in an environment where I was regularly criticized, berated, or yelled at for minor infractions. I never knew when the tirades would come, and so I tried at all costs to avoid my parents. But it wasn’t easy to thrive in our small home. I didn’t know who I could trust. I felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells, and because I felt I could be blamed for just about anything, the world did not feel like a safe, just, or fair place to be.

It took decades to finally understand the diagnoses that explained my parent’s behaviors. But as a kid, it was much harder to make sense of the anger. I alternated between trying to please them and lashing out. Because I couldn’t make sense of my life at home and lacked healthy parenting, I had to draw my own conclusions about the world. I decided that I had to take care of myself. I couldn’t trust people of authority or God. Love wasn’t something that I could count on. I couldn’t trust that good things or good people could come my way.

Trust Is The Glue Of Life

Without this trust in my environment or people, for 50 yrs I stayed vigilant to my surroundings. I alternated between shutting myself off from the world, and inching my way back into it. Safety was something I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know who was going to hurt me next. Stretching myself was scary, as I had no one to soothe me if I failed. I didn’t know who I could trust to help me with my career in academia, or when I started my business. I was the only one I trusted so I had to do everything on my own. So for most of my life, I didn’t thrive. In fact, I struggled to survive.

We need trust to thrive

I needed to trust, to receive the goodness that life had to offer.

I needed to be able to trust to have deep and meaningful relationships, and I needed to trust to find the support I needed for my business.

That is why I am grateful that I eventually found methods for my own personal healing. I’ve released the bitterness, the trauma and resentments about my early life experiences. I’ve addressed the attachment issues and inherited trauma. I am wiser about who is trustworthy, and importantly, I can trust trustworthy people. I am now able to get the support I need, and I am finally thriving!

Losing trust again

But over the last 10-20 years, I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the lack of understanding of the importance of trust in our “news” media and amongst our politicians. Americans used to be proud of our integrity when I was young. We had a high moral standing in this world. But it has been slowly disintegrating with our government’s international and domestic policies. With the shifting of benefits from the poor to the ultra-wealthy and large corporations, the bloated military and its aggressiveness, and now the lack of cooperation to attack our common enemy, COVID, I’ve lost trust in our government.

The shift from investigative journalism to sound bite journalism, as now seen in most corporate media made me lose trust in that industry as well. We used to have the Fairness Doctrine, the Equal Air Time Amendment, and now it’s perfectly legal for news organizations to distort the truth, or even lie.

Politicians yelling at each other

I’ve been concerned about election integrity issues for over a decade. The issues that compromise the integrity of our Democracy have been growing, and so is awareness. But as our “Democracy” currently stands, I believe it is only a sham of a Democracy. With the vulnerability of our machines, corrupt election officials, dropping minorities from the polls, the influence of Super Pacs, gerrymandering, and the recent shenanigans by our president, I’ve lost trust in our Democracy.

And because too many have voted and still appear to be voting for a president that is known for his lies, corruption, and cruelty towards a growing swath of the American public, and because of the growing adherence to QAnon, and lack of commitment to the truth, and because I see too many people not appearing to care about the welfare or lives of others, I’m losing trust in too many of my fellow Americans.

And I’m not alone. Most Americans agree that our trust in our government and each other is declining.

Trust is the glue in relationships

Paul J Zak, a professor of Neuroscience and Economics, TED speaker and author of Trust Factor, the Science of Creating High Performance Companies, speaks to companies regularly about how trust is foundational for a society to function.

For example, let’s take a simple transaction, a purchase. There needs to be some level of trust between the buyer and seller. A buyer who can’t trust the seller goes elsewhere. If a seller can’t trust his buyers, then he won’t thrive or survive as a business.

When laws and societal norms are applied equally to everyone, we can have faith in our justice system

When laws are only enforced on those of us without privileges, we can no longer have enough trust to have a functioning society. A society that is only built for the benefit of the few creates resentment and instability. We cannot expect peace or trust under such tensions!

How to build trust and thrive as a society

Denmark is the most trusting country in the world. They have what is called “ general societal trust”. 75% of Danes report having high trust in others, compared to 36% in the other 36 Democratic countries!! In some countries, less than 10% believe that others can be trusted.

How can they have so much trust? They have the lowest level of corruption, they scorn hierarchy, their poverty rate is only at 5%, and they have one of the lowest levels of income inequality. Danes pay high taxes but have the best social benefits, and they work only 34 hours a week! Their citizens value volunteerism, and only 3% are not interested in politics! They are fully committed to the well-being of all, and it pays off in trust!

You can't buy trust in the supermarket

Loss of Trust is intimately related to inequality. And our trust in the US of both our politicians and each other has steadily eroded over the last few decades. As demonstrated in Robert Reich’s movie Inequality for All, the poor have had to take on a larger burden of the taxes while tax breaks and entitlements have been shifted to the wealthy. And contrary to the trickle-down theory, inequality keeps growing. Currently 3 men own more than the bottom 50% of Americans.

America is at a crossroads.

Many of us feel like corruption is at an all-time high. We don’t trust our politicians, or even the CDC to help us end this pandemic. Conservatives and progressives seem to be living in vastly different versions of our truth, with entirely different interpretations of what it means to be moral.

If we can’t find a way to negotiate, to understand one another or see each other’s humanity, we may lose our Democracy and country as we know it.

And if we can’t trust the CDC or those that have the expertise to end this pandemic, we won’t be able to fight it.

Plus if we can’t trust other Democracies enough to cooperate to end the pandemic, we are hurting our chances of recovering from it.

I know from my personal experience that trust is foundational to interdependence, and our ability to thrive. 

I believe trust is sacred.

We cannot thrive as a country without the ability to trust each other, or our government.

We must restore trust in each other and our government

Having honest elections is an important starting point to rebuilding trust in our government, so I’m working with an organization called Scrutineers that is focused on this issue.

With clients, I make every effort to manage expectations before we sign contracts and I accept money to start our sessions.

And with my clients and in my personal life, I take my commitments seriously.

Is there room for improvement? Definitely! And I will continue to strive to do better as I am able!

World where we can trust each other

Do you want to live in a world where we can trust each other? Can you imagine a country where we all feel safe in the streets or with each other? Can you imagine a country where we can be ourselves, and we are all celebrated for our uniqueness? For our personal survival and the survival of our species, we must prioritize trust!

We must demand more integrity from our leaders, from each other and ourselves! Without trust, we simply cannot thrive as individuals or as a country!

What will you do to help us thrive and rebuild a culture of trust? Please share in the comments below!

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