I’m reminded of a folk tale about a chicken and a pig trying to decide what each should bring to a big party they’re throwing. The chicken says he’d be happy to bring some eggs for the party and he suggests the pig bring some bacon.
“That’s not quite fair,” the pig responded, “For you, it’s just a contribution, but for me it’s everything.”
Giving another person your trust is something like being the pig, and handing over your own flesh for the party. A bit graphic, I know. But for someone who has experienced loss or betrayal, this is just how raw trusting again can feel.
Trust requires safety. Trust is built in tiny little increments that eventually add up to a solid foundation. It's important for both parties to understand, recognize and appreciate what is at stake for the other.
The risk of 'having your bacon fried' because you brought too much to the party, or perhaps you brought it too early is a very real and frightening risk. The author Brene Brown is an amazing resource for those of you interested in learning more about what she calls 'the anatomy of trust'. According to Brene,
"Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else".
The very act of opening yourself up to the actions of another, of allowing your love and care for them make you vulnerable to the potential pain that the loss of their trust could cause.
This is what makes trust such a beautiful diamond in the human condition. Trust is fragile, trust is risky. Trust is raw and can be scary. It is special and hard-won. It can take a lifetime to fully earn, it can take mere moments to destroy.
As human beings, we are so lucky to be able to experience the glorious highs and horrific lows of the ebb and flow of trust. Without true trust, what do our relationships really mean for us and our lives? While deciding how much of our flesh to bring to the trust party, we must also weigh what a life that is void of trust could feel like.
It can be tempting to protect ourselves by not exposing or opening the potential to be vulnerable to another person. Especially if we've been hurt, our inclination is to head for the hills, and jump into our protective bunker, rather than risk the pain of betrayal or rejection again.
Life however, and human connection are not meant to be lived and experienced in a bunker in the hills of our fears. That is why we crave connection, that is why, despite the pain of broken trust, we are compelled to seek it again, and again, and again.
This is not a detriment. This is not a human weakness. This is not something that should be buried and 'kept in check'. The desire to connect and trust another human being is one of the most important aspects of our humanity. The joy of hard-earned trust is incomparable, and worth the price of admission.
For those who have been hurt in the past, trust becomes like a Tiffany pendant, rather than a drug store souvenir. It is precious. It is rare. It is not to be treated casually or with complacency. And it is only worth the price you are willing to pay. Deep and strong trust does not come from a place of limited investment. It does not come from a half-hearted commitment.
Trust can only be built with our most precious materials. Our hearts, our souls, our willingness and desire to open ourselves up to the actions of another. Trust is only as strong as the value of the risk. The more 'flesh' we put into the relationship, the stronger the potential bond of trust. And yes, as the bond increases, the risk increases in equal proportion.
A fascinating equation for us humans! What are we willing to put in? What are we willing to bring to the party? The answer to that has to lie in how much we ultimately want the outcome. How much do we want the connection of trust, and how much are we willing to invest in building that bond?
Investing in the risky venture of trust, is the human equivalent of a high risk stock. Volatile, fragile, and yet intoxicatingly fully of potential. Weighing risk and gain is an aspect of trust. And much like a volatile stock, trust requires vigilance and tending. Allowing a trust-based relationship to lie fallow in the laziness of complacency is a recipe for a crash.
Trust requires risk. Trust requires bravery. Trust require investment. Trust requires ongoing care and nurturing. And for all of those efforts, Trust rewards us with the deepest of human connection. The potential to be known and valued and loved.
The risk is worth the investment.
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