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Who do you trust? And why?

Last week I went to one of the local coffee shops in my neighborhood – I do a lot of my writing in coffee shops — and discovered it had changed its business hours for the third time this summer. I was frustrated, but even more, decided not to even try to go there again. I was disappointed and even though I knew it wasn’t personal, felt a little betrayed.

A little girl tells her best friend a secret, and that friend tells another friend, who tells someone else, until the original secret comes back to the girl.  She feels embarrassed, hurt and betrayed. What would have happened if her best brined had kept her secret instead?  We all know the answer to that, because we’ve all been there:  that little girl would have felt valued.

Loosing trust with a friend is a lot more painful than losing trust with a coffee shop, but it’s the same process:  We expect a certain kind of behavior from them that is consistent with what they mean to us. We become vulnerable in our expectation, and form a bond of trust with the other as a result. That bond is broken if we feel betrayed. The trust might be broken in a big way – like a friend breaking a secret – but most often it happens in little ways.

John Gottman in his research found that trust is built in the smallest of moments. He called these moments Sliding Door moments, after a movie of that name, where the life of the main character was significantly altered based on a decision taken in a single moment.

He discovered that each of these small moments are one of two things: either a moment of trust, or a moment of betrayal. That friend has a moment to decide: will she keep a secret or tell others?  A single moment with one of 2 opposite results.

This not only applies to ourselves with others, it also applies to self-trust and self-betrayal.  In fact, every act of trust-building and betrayal we do with others, we also do with ourselves. That time you knew in your gut that something was wrong, but chose to ignore it in favor of the business connection to someone you don’t really like that might benefit you later on; or pretending not to see a friend when you see him across the street.  We betray ourselves when we don’t listen to what our gut is telling us, and then we betray our business contact through insincerity. We betray our principles when ignoring a friend, and betray our friend by lying to him through pretense.  One small moment; two big results.

So, the first step in building trust with others is to build trust with ourselves. Once we trust ourselves, the rest will simply happen.  And the way we build self-trust is in the small moments of the every day. It’s something we can train ourselves to do. Here are three things you can do right now:

  • Notice when you ignore what you know is true or real in favor of some overwhelming desire. That glazed donut you see after being hung up on by a customer service rep, for instance, when you know the sugar rush will do nothing good for your body. Even if you succumb to the lure of the donut, simply register in your awareness what just happened.
  • Take a few unscheduled moments every day to check in. Set the alarm on your phone to ring at random times, and when it rings, take a few deep breaths, and check in to see if you’re doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, or not. Think of it as a “retraining” of your whole body to learn to recognize, catch and turn around something that you would otherwise remain unaware of.
  • When you catch yourself ignoring something – it will happen – be gentle. Building self-trust takes time; it’s something that we can form as a habit, and habits always take time to build. Harsh self-criticism doesn’t help to build self-trust.  Just the opposite – it undermines your efforts.  Learn to accept that you slipped this time, see if you can catch how it happened, and then move on.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Brene Brown – The Anatomy of Trust

Quote of the Week

I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
― Maya Angelou


At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co


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