Tromping through the rain, droplets pelting the canopy of the umbrella overhead while fiercely clinging to the handle in the middle of a sudden downpour is much like understanding how trust is developed, maintained and repaired.
The question is often how do I trust my child, partner, friend, family member, co-worker after they’ve (fill in the blank)?
Trust is more like the canopy of an umbrella, rather than the handle we hang onto in a storm.
Trust is not just about the things that we fear or get frustrated with, trust is also about the things that others do with relative consistency. A misstep or a painful experience that damages trust, is not a complete picture of the trust built within relationship.
We can trust that our friend will laugh with us when we talk about a silly moment we shared together, yet we may not be able to trust that they will be on time if they have a reliable history of being late. The trust will be in the knowing they will likely be late.
We can trust that our partner will fulfill their commitment to getting up and going to work each day because they have a history of doing so, yet we may not trust they won’t flirt with their attractive co-worker. The trust is in knowing that playful banter gives them a particular sense of worth.
We can trust that a child will enjoy the candy they chose at the store, and we may not be able to trust they will clean their room without encouragement. The trust is in knowing they need reminders to do chores that they’ve had for years simply because play during childhood is more natural to them than chores.
When one does something outside of what we have typically relied on or even know to be true, but we don’t like, we then begin to throw around a particular set of phrases, “I can’t trust you. How can I ever trust you again? I don’t trust you. You can’t be trusted.”
In reality there are plenty of things we have and do trust within the relationship, because they have shown and continue to show relative consistency in those areas.
Much like the protection of the umbrella in the rain, when we recognize that we actually have reason to trust more than we do to distrust, the repair work will likely develop more quickly. And if there are areas of trust that we need strengthened we can put into place opportunities for small successes that will rebuild the kind of trust we want or need in a particular area.
We can then loosen our grip on the handle of trust vs distrust, knowing that trust is more of a canopy than a particular area we feel we need to have a death grip on.