Think about the criteria you use you when you choose to trust someone? Perhaps you want to believe them. Maybe what they are saying makes sense. Or perhaps you have no reason not to trust them. Maybe your trust is in a third person – a friend who has referred someone to you. Or maybe you trust an authority – a person, organization, or institution on the basis that they have certain expertise, or who claim to be acting on behalf of your best interest. As long as we are making our trust choices based on these considerations, we might just as well roll the dice.
This is partly because we are trusting the wrong person. We have learned that trust is “having a firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of others.” But since trust is a choice, and it is you that is making the choice, maybe the question should be – how much trust do you have in yourself when making the decision to trust others?
Trust is an inside job
While it is important to use our intellect to determine such things as whether what another person is saying makes sense, our intellectual thinking brain was never meant to function on its own, because it can get confused, be fooled, or even manipulated. It needs to work together with our body intelligence.
When our nervous systems are regulated, or in balance*, our body intelligence always knows the truth, and cannot be deceived. Our body’s job is to keep us alive, and our nervous systems are sensitive enough to detect danger – such as when another person is being incongruent (which is a mismatch of one’s outer expression with their inner thoughts and feelings). Horses, for example become agitated and move away from us when we act or speak in a way that does not match what we are really thinking or feeling. They are noticing our physiology and detecting perhaps a shift in our breathing or heartbeat, or a contraction in our solar plexus. They are not using their thinking brain, but rather their bodies – via their nervous systems to sense danger. Being mammals, we too have this ability to use our body intelligence to sense how safe we are around others. We might notice a tightness in the gut, or a feeling of queasiness, or like ‘hairs are standing on the back of our necks.’ In general if we have a sense of discomfort, tension, agitation, or feeling like moving away from someone, these are all signs not to be ignored. Never say yes when your body says no.
We don’t have to worry about the motives and actions of others, and can live more fully and confidently in the world when we trust ourselves and respond according to our body-mind intelligence. In this way we experience more peace and comfort in our bodies and make better choices.
* If we have unresolved trauma – where the body doesn’t know that danger has passed, or we learned not to trust the world when we were young because people we trusted hurt us, our bodies are often dysregulated. They are on high alert and register everything as unsafe. Balance needs to be restored so the nervous system can effectively perform one of its main functions – to discern safe from unsafe.