Do You Trust in Trust?
A Trust Manifesto
by David Droogleever
I trust you.
And I trust you to read this in its entirety.
It is imperfectly written and that is exactly how I want it to be read because I believe the message is powerful enough that it needs not the packaging of a perfectly assembled cellophane-wrapped basket. And heads up: yes, there will be a call to action at the end of this – don’t say I didn’t warn you (don’t worry, I’ll make it insanely easy for you.). Finally, I encourage that you extract the spirit of what I am attempting to say and avoid the temptation to become mired in philosophical nuance. Okay, onto the good stuff…
So: Do you trust me? Do you trust yourself enough to trust me?
Do you trust in trust?
Do you trust me enough to spend time to read this article – or even the rest of this sentence? If not, why not?
Perhaps you’ve decided to continue reading (or listening) at this point. Why?
When was the last time you trusted someone fully? Were you hurt emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or otherwise?
What was the last time you distrusted someone or something?
You probably thought of a relationship, right? Any other situation where you distrusted someone or something? Or is it so automatic that you don’t even notice yourself distrusting anymore?
We All Want To Trust: We Just Have Found Legitimate Reasons Not To
Let’s start with a foundational premise: We all desire more trust and would prefer to not distrust.
(If you disagree with this premise, then there is likely not much reason to continue reading on. And if that is the case, I accept that, and trust that you will do what is best for you.)
And when I say prefer, I meant that, if you had the choice, apples-to-apples, and barring any previous experiences that would sway you either way – you would choose to experience trust over distrust.
We all desire more trust in all areas of life whether it be in intimate relationships, business, government, etc.
Why do we want to trust? If you are naturally of a trusting nature, why is that and why do you lean towards trust over distrust?
The answer might be obvious to you (and to many others): you simply can’t fully live without trusting. You cannot fully love without being trusting. And, perhaps, you might say, at some point, you have to trust.
But it’s not so obvious to others. Some people might say, “Oh yeah, I tried to be trusting and that didn’t work out so great due to…”.
So it’s worth calling out that we all want to trust and to live out trust, but we have amassed (legitimate) reasons to not do so.
Trust Holds Everything Together
Just like there are four fundamental forces of nature that “glue” everything together through forces of attraction, similarly, trust is the “glue” that binds humans together. To nerd out for a brief moment, the four fundamental forces in nature are:
- Electromagnetic force (e.g. magnets)
- Strong nuclear force (holds neutrons/protons together)
- Weak nuclear force (responsible for radioactive decay)
- Gravitational force (keeps planets in orbit, us glued to earth, and generally makes the cosmos go round)
We are comfortable with these forces because we are now at a point, scientifically speaking, where we can (relatively) easily measure those forces. They are laid bare for our instrumentation to explore and probe into their deeper nature.
I contend – for metaphysical purposes (certainly not for scientific purposes whatsoever!) – that there is a fifth force. And that fifth force is… drum roll… TRUST.
But we aren’t as comfortable with calling Trust as a fundamental force in the universe in part because we cannot easily measure and quantify it. But just because we cannot easily measure it does not mean it is not valuable. (By the way, if I am not sufficiently dialing in your nerd knobs, feel free to ignore the last part about calling trust the “fifth force”.)
Trust is the force that binds humans together. And distrust is the force that unbinds humans from each other.
And not to get too far down the rabbit hole, but just like when atoms are split via nuclear fission – if uncontrolled – can result in massive levels of destruction via an explosive atom bomb…
The same is true for trust. Humans – generally speaking – gravitate naturally towards trust and trusting people and situations that can be trusted. When we are forced or caused to dismantle or lose trust, the results can be – and not to be too melodramatic here – truly deleterious and… explosive.
The irony of the four fundamental forces is, although we can now scientifically measure them, you likely don’t feel them on a regular basis. I mean, seriously, when was the last time you played with magnets or jumped up and down to absolutely ensure that gravity was still keeping you safely boots-on-ground?
BUT, you can likely recall with immediacy the last time you distrusted a person or a situation… or an entity such as the media or government.
You can feel it, can’t you? Even though you can’t measure it? So just because you cannot measure something does not mean that it is not real insofar as your subjective experience goes.
Why We Distrust: As Brief As Possible
We distrust because we all began as fundamentally trusting, innocent young children and grew into distrust. We didn’t choose to become distrustful, we were forced to in order to protect ourselves. One obvious example is if you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, you likely withdrew from others as a natural protective mechanism.
You had every reason to become distrusting because you had no other option – because in your mind self-preservation was paramount, and trusting others was tantamount to death.
Examples of Distrust
To lay out some more pedestrian examples of distrust – or lack of complete trust – are below. Perhaps, some of these are so common that you don’t even notice that you do these things out of some level of distrust:
- Locking your door
- Encrypting your data or currency
- Using passwords
- Avoiding dark alleys or parking lots
- Avoiding people or “certain types” of people
- Clutching your purse/wallet as you walk down a sidewalk
- Saying “No” when someone asks you for something
- Withholding love,
- Withholding information
- Storing items in a safe
- Buying a gun
- Hiring a lawyer
- Not making a sales call
- Avoiding a food you crave
- Avoiding going on a date
- Storing money in a bank
- Signing a contract or agreement
- Your 8-year-old child asking the waitress/stranger at Red Robin: “Why should I trust YOU?!” (Yes, this actually happened, which is obviously why I wrote it.)
Are the above examples “bad” per se? Of course not. There can be very good reasons to do any or all of the above things. But before I go into that…
The Fundamental Premise of Trust
Here is my fundamental premise. But before I ask, can you trust me enough to hear out the rest of my message? If so, thank you for trusting me – and I trust you with my message and entrust you with my message. And – saddle up, here it is:
”The root cause of needless suffering is the presence and fomentation of distrust; and the solution to every problem and unlocking of the greatest levels of human flourishing stems from the development, existence, and promulgation of trust – whether at the individual or global level.”
You might be nodding your head at this point. OR perhaps you are asking, “So what? What do we do now?”
Well, I will tell you. But before I do, do you trust me enough to hear me through the end of my message?
If not, then I invite you to politely bow out of reading or hearing the rest of this message – but only after acknowledging that the reason why you have left is that you didn’t trust me enough to hear me out. And if that is the case – I accept that, and I trust you that you are doing what’s right for you.
So, on to answering “So what now? What do we do?”
The answer is simple and practical. Start every conversation with a simple question: Do you trust me?
And when I mean every conversation, I mean: Every. Single. Conversation.
A Trust Thought Experiment
Play that out in your mind as a thought experiment. Think of the next person you will speak to. Then think of how the conversation would transpire if you were to ask them as early in the conversation as is feasible:
“Hey, Todd, I’m really curious to know, do you trust me?”
(For now, for the sake of this dialogue, let’s assume that the person will answer the question as honestly and authentically as possible. We will deal with that “What if they say X?” perhaps at a later time. )
Suffice it to say, if they choose not to answer your question directly or otherwise, can you guess why that would be the case?
You’re starting to catch on… it’s because they didn’t trust you.
Fascinating, isn’t it? What this means is…
You Cannot Escape Having to Choose to Trust (or Distrust)
Meaning: you either choose to trust or you choose to distrust. More specifically, you are either 100% trusting – OR – you have some level of distrust in you.
Everything either builds trust or dismantles trust. EVERYTHING.
There is not a single action or statement that you can make that does nothing to the level of trust with you and someone else.
You are either always creating more trust or you are dismantling trust.
And if there is distrust in you or between you and others, then, if you desire to achieve the highest version of yourself or your relationships, you must ferret out the root of that distrust and skillfully dismantle that distrust by identifying:
What would it take to turn that distrust into trust?
Back to The Trust Thought Experiment
How do you think the person would respond when asked “Do you trust me”? Do you feel a sense of trepidation towards how they might respond? If so, why?
If you do feel a sense of trepidation, where does that trepidation come from? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Very likely, the worst possible outcome from asking the question “Do you trust me?” is that the person would say “no”.
But Is Trust Worth It? Like, Really Worth It?
Would that be a tough conversation to have that would require a very high level of courage, vulnerability, and… trust? Yes. Would it be worth it? Absolutely it would.
But why would it be worth it? Why would you subject yourself to a potentially painful answer? And my answer to that fantastic question would be rooted in my fundamental premise above – and it’s that:
… the keys to unlocking the greatest level of human experience and human flourishing are to learn how to trust one another and, more importantly, to learn how to build trust amongst one another. And without having a conversation around trust, there is little to no possibility of bridging the gap between distrust and trust of one another.
Let me say that again.
Without having pointed and conscious conversations around trust, there is little to no possibility of bridging the gap between distrust and trust of one another.
And thusly, there is little to no possibility of tapping into the highest levels of human flourishing to include mitigation and minimization of needless human suffering.
And here’s the real btch of it all.
You have to give trust to receive trust.
Yup. You read that right. Oh, you want people to trust you?
You want people to stop distrusting you?
Stop distrusting people. Translation: Give trust and cease and desist promulgating distrust.
Chances are if you were to ask someone if they trust you – especially with someone you don’t know well – the answer would be some permutation or variation of “Well, yes, but I don’t know you that well to fully trust you.”
Okay, good. Fair enough. And look, let’s get one thing out of the way:
There exists an infinite amount of reasons to distrust someone.
The question I am asking is not whether or not you should trust or not distrust. The question is if you are not fully trusting, then why not? And, furthermore, what does it take to close the gap between distrusting someone and fully trusting someone?
Allow me to offer one more downside of distrust, as if there weren’t enough already.
Distrust is a form of wasted energy or potentially wasted energy.
Go back to the examples above of distrust. Can you see how much wasted energy goes into distrusting? I think the most egregious example is how every nation expends up to trillions of dollars arming themselves to the teeth because nations do not trust other nations to not come in and take their shit.
Again, I’m not saying there are not good reasons to build a military-industrial complex – particularly one of self-defense. I am saying if we did not have to build military-industrial complexes, we could divert all of those resources towards human flourishing.
Let’s use a simpler, more digestible examples: locking doors.
We lock doors so often that we hardly notice it. But we lock our doors because we distrust others to not break into our homes or take our possessions. It may seem trivial and innocuous in the short term, but in the long term, it is a tremendous waste of life energy. Think of all the times you forgot your keys, were locked out of a house/car or had to run back to lock the door because you forgot to do so when you first left the house! Now imagine if you never had to lock/unlock a door ever again in your entire life or carry around keys for that matter!
You might still be asking: But is trusting really worth it?…
One more point…
Distrust is a form of energy blockage.
The universe is designed for energy to flow fluidly. When one observes nature, we can clearly see water move fluidly in rivers and oceans, and winds move from areas of high pressure to lower pressure, etc. There is a natural movement of energy in and throughout the natural world. It is only when energy becomes “stuck” that things go awry. One good example is when water is still or stagnant. Stagnant water tends to breed malaria and dengue and becomes a terrible source of potable water as it breeds bacteria and parasites.
Trust is similar in the sense that it is intended to flow fluidly and freely. Trust unlocks the flow of energy between sentient species and distrust blocks that flow. And when the energetic flow is blocked it becomes stagnant and therefore breeds either suffering or, at best, restricts optimal human flourishing.
Another Reason to Trust: Trust is the One and Only Path to Love
Allow me to offer one more reason to trust.
If you cannot trust you cannot love. Period.
We all want love, but why do we so often fail to achieve the (desired) experience of love? The answer is simple:
We fail to achieve love because we fail to trust. There is no possibility of a truly loving relationship without trust.
Because loving relationships are built on trust. Ounce by ounce, brick by brick, card by card – trust is built over the long haul. And, unfortunately, as arduous as it might be to build that house of cards up seven, eight, nine levels… that “house of trust” can crumble in an instant with hardly less than a whisper.
But that’s what makes trust so damn worthwhile. Precisely because it is so damn difficult to build and maintain.
So yes, building and maintaining trust can be an arduous and tenuous process – dare I say – a labor of love? But it is SO worth it.
And you might ask? Can I love without trust? Can’t I have my cake and eat it, too? Can’t I love and still distrust the other person if ever so slightly? The answer is NO.
You can certainly TRY to. But the resultant effect would be something less than that of what you wanted. It would be some lesser form of love. You would be cutting your nose to spite your face.
You might say, “But trusting is hard!” Of course, it is. But, again, that’s what makes it worth it. Bringing full trust to bear in a relationship will not only elevate Love to its highest levels, but the hard fact of that matter is it will also potentially avail you to the deepest lows of human experience. Those two potential experiences are inextricably intertwined.
You cannot have a valley without a mountain, and you cannot have a wave without a trough. They are one and the same. To desire and to aspire to love is to also leave the gates of suffering and heartache agape.
But is it worth it?
Just ask someone who has been truly head over heels in love and ask if they would rather have lived their entire life without having loved. I believe that most people would say yes.
However, you might have people say that it wasn’t worth it. I’ve been around these folks, and they are miserable. I won’t belabor this point, but if you read the last few sentences askance – go watch Good Will Hunting (specifically the scene where Robin Williams talks about his dead wife) and let’s continue on…
“But trusting is scary!” But does it have to be? Trusting can be as “scary” as it is exciting. It is two sides of the same coin. If you are fully trusting someone you should be scared… and you should feel excited! If you are not both excited and scared when trusting yourself or others, then you are not in a state of full trusting.
Similarly, if you are scared to trust that means you’re also (or could potentially be) just as excited to trust. And this includes trusting yourself.
Trust Unlocks Your Ability to Live Your Values
Once you trust you can be vulnerable. And once you can be vulnerable you can lay bare your values and value systems. And once your values are known and communicated, you can then choose to live by those values and/or find others that will support you in living out your value system.
Said differently, trust allows for vulnerability which allows for transparency. And once full transparency is achieved – you now have unlocked the panacea for a complete understanding of one another’s value systems. And once your value systems are laid bare to those around you – you now have the fullest access to support structures in living out your values.
Why Can’t We Just Distrust When We Want To?
Now you might ask, “Why is trusting so important? Why can’t we trust some people and distrust others? You can’t possibly get to know everyone on the planet that well!”
Great question. And here’s the answer:
Because our society has been predicated and architected around distrust, the knock-on effects thereof are so prevalent that we do not even notice its deleterious effects. Should this continue, the impact will be nothing short of existential crises. Meaning, if we continue to operate around distrust of each other, we are inevitably headed towards a mass extinction of our species. Perhaps not today, in a year, or even a few generations.
But it is inevitable.
This is Not About Fear Mongering
No, this is not fear-mongering.
There is a myriad of examples that point towards not just our capability to destroy one another, but towards a potentially worsening trend with no end in sight. All these examples are rooted in distrust, whether at the individual or collective level:
- Terrorism and 9/11 attacks
- World War II atrocities, 85MM deaths (esp. Hiroshima/Nagasaki)
- The Cold War and The Cuban Missile Crisis
- The Crusades and Spanish Inquisition (>1MM deaths)
- Mass genocide: e.g. Cambodia Khmer Rouge Regime (3MM deaths), Auschwitz (1.1MM deaths)
- Inability to contain/mitigate the effects of pandemics (e.g. Covid-19)
- Creation of a military-industrial complex, esp. around nuclear armament or “strategic deterrence”
- Mass proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – primarily: chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear in nature. All it takes is one person or faction armed with relatively readily accessible technology that can precipitate the death of an unconscionable swath of innocent human and sentient beings.
On the flip side, here is the other side of the coined answer above.
Imagine a world that is 100% trusting.
Could you imagine never having to lock your door, own a gun, store possessions in a safe, sign a contract, type in a password, background check your babysitter, militarize your country and allies (let alone pay the enormous amount of taxes to do so!)… or protect your heart?
Imagine the absolutely immense amount of time, resources, and energy that would be unlocked that could then be reallocated towards human flourishing and the mitigation of human suffering.
Is this not a future that we can also agree that is worth striving for?
And if it is not, then what future that allows for or promulgates distrust is worth striving for?
Are you okay with living in that future – or your children or your children’s children living in that future? Are you okay with telling your children or loved ones that you do not want to help build and move towards a future society where we can all trust each other?
The Silver Lining… Or Why I Am Hopeful
Now here is the silver lining with all the technological progress that we have made: we also possess the capabilities technologically and organizationally to create a sustainable trust-based solution to global problems virtually overnight.
If we – as a planet, as countries, organizations, and individuals – were able to fully trust each other, we would all be able to tap into the resources, skills, knowledge, brain trusts, research, and technologies that could immediately and effectively solve global problems at an unprecedented rate.
The only reason we are unable to solve world crises, such as Covid-19, is that we distrust each other at such a deep systemic level that we, as a planet, are unable to coordinate an effective and skillful response amongst each other to halt the virus in its tracks.
And if we do not emerge from this pandemic with the ability to trust each other more fully, then the next pandemic will make the current Covid-19 pandemic look like a walk in the park.
The answer is so simple and in plain sight that we fail to see it. And the answer is:
We must learn to trust each other – and we must collectively dismantle our reasons to distrust each other.
I agree with you – this will not happen overnight – although it certainly could if we chose to do so.
Our ability to move towards a world of trust is predicated on a simple two-pronged approach:
- Grassroots or bottom-up. Individuals must start conversations with their loved ones and friends with trust, i.e., do we trust each other?
- Leaders of the most powerful institutions and governments across the globe – or top-down. World leaders must commit to trust-centric conversations with each other. They must talk. But they cannot start these conversations with solutions or finger-pointing. The conversation and discourse must begin with the question: do we trust each other?
To the second point: why must world leaders across the world ask each other “do we trust each other?” It is because that simple question leads to the all-important answer and conversation of: “Yes, I/we do trust you, or no, I/we do not trust you.”
Okay, great, now we know and have acknowledged that we do or do not trust each other. Now, the pivotal question comes:
Why do you not trust me/us? And how do we dismantle distrust and establish trust?
Now that is where things get very, very interesting – and extremely productive.
Let’s make this real for a moment at the individual level. Let’s imagine a conversation between you and your significant other (S.O.):
S.O.: “We’ve been together a long time, but I’ve never asked you directly: do you trust me?”
You: “Yes, I do, that’s why I’m with you, silly! So… do you trust me?”
S.O.: “Ah, well… I do… but… there was that one time.”
You: “What one time?”
S.O.: “Well, we both agreed to have an abortion, but I was expecting you to help me pay for the cost of the clinic. But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ask you for money…”
You: “Really? I didn’t think that money was a big deal. I certainly could have paid for the operation. So… you didn’t trust me enough to ask me for financial help?”
S.O.: “Well, I just thought you might become upset.”
You: “Oh, I certainly would not have become upset, I just didn’t know. Now I’m concerned because it sounds like we aren’t able to easily and fluidly discuss money with each other. Further, you clearly didn’t want to ask for financial help because you didn’t trust that I would be upset at you…”
S.O.: “Well, I do get scared sometimes because of your fiery, mercurial temper. So I never know when is a good time to talk about these things…”
At this point in the conversation, in just a few sentences, we have uncovered a thorny situation that otherwise would not have come up without starting the conversation around trust.
Furthermore, the understanding of how each person is relating to each other becomes more fully elucidated in rapid fashion and leads to higher quality conversations that can potentially expand the solution space to a more trusting, open, and flourishing relationship.
(In my next iteration of this manifesto, I will flesh out a similar conversation with world leaders.)
The Only Commandment(s)
I avoid dogma like my life depends on it. But if I were to be dogmatic, it would be about one thing, and one thing only:
You must be able to trust yourself.
Trust myself… what? What does that mean?
Well, that’s up to you, really. But allow me to gently point you in a helpful direction.
How would you know if you trust yourself? Think of the last time you had any aspiration whatsoever. Put in mind any goal or desire you’ve had or currently have.
Do you have it? I’ll wait.
Now, why have you not achieved that goal or desire? Is it time, resources, energy, connections, money, information, skills? Go ahead. Answer it and put that in your mind for a moment.
Now ask yourself: Is it really about that thing? Is that really why you have not achieved that goal or desire?
Some Tough Love… Don’t Worry, It’s Good For You
Do you trust me that hearing some tough love will be good for you?
Let’s walk through each of the most common reasons for not achieving your goals and what you actually are saying whether explicitly or tacitly:
- Time: you haven’t made it a priority
- Resources: you haven’t asked for the resources or have come up with excuses as to why those resources can’t be made available to you
- Energy: you have expended your life energy on pursuits that did not or do not feed into your goals
- Connections: you have not asked for the connections that you need to achieve your goal
- Money: you have prioritized other expenditures over applying financial resources towards your goal or you have failed to ask for the financial resources or capital you need to achieve your goal
- Information: this one’s easy, particularly because of the accessibility of information in the information age. You simply failed to research the information or otherwise assimilate or ascertain the needed information whether it be from online research or hiring the proper brain trust.
- Skills: you prioritized skilling up in other areas of your life over skills that would feed into your goals
Can you see a theme here? The obvious theme is simply that of your inability to properly prioritize. And this topic has been covered ad-nauseam by other folks, so I won’t cover it here. But there is another more subtle theme that is emerging here, and that is:
You have failed to achieve your goals or desire because you do not trust yourself to achieve that goal or desire.
I told you this would be tough love.
Do you still trust me? Or have I lost your trust? If I haven’t, have I built trust with you at this point?
The only possible reason that you have not achieved your goals or met your desires – and I mean any goal or desire – is because you do not trust yourself enough to bring about that goal or desire to fruition.
How Can I Begin to Trust Myself?
Now, why is that the case? That is for YOU to find out.
Even if I could explain to you why that was the case – why you don’t trust yourself to achieve your goals – I wouldn’t tell you. And I wouldn’t tell you because it would rob from you the ability to fully appreciate how beautiful it is to go from distrusting yourself to fully trusting yourself.
If you didn’t or don’t go through the hard work of rooting out why you don’t trust yourself – of learning how to bridge that gap between self-distrust and self-trust – then you will fail to appreciate the endpoint of self-trust because you didn’t do the dirty and messy work of crossing over the chasm of self-distrust. Welcome to the curse of being human and human psychology. If it isn’t hard then you won’t perceive it as worth it.
The Impact of Lacking Self-Trust
So, at this point, hopefully, I’ve made clear how important it is to trust yourself in terms of achieving your goals. Let’s take a peek at the impact of the lack of self-trust.
Here we go…
If you do not trust yourself, other people, including yourself, will suffer needlessly.
If you live your life lacking trust in yourself, then you will fail to either find your mission or you will fail to achieve your life mission – whatever that may be. And failing to find or live your life mission will cause an immense amount of suffering and pain for yourself and others?
Why would lack of self-trust cause suffering?
… because your inability to create the life that you desire will not only leave you unhappy and unable to create a flourishing existence, but you will also create this suffering state for others in your orbit and beyond.
Why would lack of self-trust create suffering for others? Because we are all inextricably connected and living in a global village. (If Covid-19 hasn’t made that clear to you, I have nothing left to say to you.)
Suffering at the individual level will inevitably cause suffering at the group and societal level as the suffering or flourishing of an individual is part and parcel of suffering or flourishing at the collective level.
Almost all of us have heard of the Ten Commandments. Toss all of these out. The only commandments I have for you are these:
Thou Shalt Trust Thyself
Once you unlock the ability to trust yourself, you will now unlock the ability to trust others. Unlocking the ability to trust others will create a currency of trust (more to come on that).
Oh yeah… and:
Thou Shalt Not Weaponize Trust
If you have seen Finding Neverland (on Netflix) you know what I am talking about. Regardless of what you think the true facts are around Michael Jackson, the narrative here is salient.
And the narrative is as follows: families and their young children trusted themselves unto and with a celebrity. The celebrity built trust with those children. And that trust was weaponized against the children in the form of sexual abuse.
Not to beat what should already be a dead horse – but said differently – thou shalt not use trust to manipulate others for your own devious or malicious ends. (One could argue that that was never building “true trust” to begin with, but I digress.)
Said differently, we must not use trust against others (individual or collective) to impose a value system that is not in alignment with the others’ value system.
Trust Currency as the Only Currency of Value
We all are well acquainted with currency in the form of money. Why is money considered currency? If you unpack the word currency you can see that it is rooted in the word current – which is a body of water or air moving in a certain direction. Money is very similar in that it flows from one person or entity to another person or entity. If money is not flowing, then it is not truly currency because money is only valuable as currency if it can energetically move from one place to another. Otherwise, it remains stagnant and is generally useless, or is useless relative to when it is moving or being exchanged. (I could launch into a diatribe around economic theory here, but that is better reserved for folks that have covered this most exhaustively than I ever could hope to or care to.)
The reason money or currency is needed in the first place is that we lack the ability to trust one another with our resources, whether it be in the form of time, energy, resources, or otherwise.
If we perfectly trusted each other, then we actually wouldn’t need currency because total trust would unlock the ability for energy and resources to flow freely. But because of the presence of distrust, we need currency to exchange goods and services with one another.
Imagine this scenario…
You and I meet in the marketplace. I have ten chickens and you have one cow. I would like your one cow and we both agree that (to you) your cow is worth twenty chickens. I tell you that I do not have twenty chickens with me now, but I can either go back and get ten more chickens or can otherwise grow more chickens and pay you at some agreed-upon time. Sound good?
If we both perfectly trusted each other, we would make the exchange and then I would make good on my promise to deliver ten extra chickens at the agreed-upon time.
If we did not perfectly trust each other, then you would say, “Sorry, David, I either need your twenty chickens now, or I would take your ten chickens along with X dollars for my cow. Otherwise, I cannot finalize this transaction.”
Enter currency as the (band-aid) solution for distrust. Because you do not trust me to make good on my promise to deliver twenty chickens for your one cow – we now need currency to finalize the transaction. (Yes, I agree, there is a myriad of other ways to do this without actual currency, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that currency would be needed to finalize the transaction.)
The only real currency of the highest value is the currency of Trust. Any other currency is a band-aid solution needed due to the presence of distrust.
In closing, I trust you with this message. I trust that you will find a way to trust yourself. I trust that you will find a way to trust one another. And I trust that you will help to work towards a future that is one where we trust one another versus one where we assume distrust of one another.
There is only one thing left for humanity to do and it is this:
We must systematically dismantle distrust and build trust between individuals, families, societies, tribes, cultures, institutions, and governments. If we do not, there is simply no future to hope or live for. We must cease assuming that we must distrust to meet our needs as human beings.
And it all very simply starts with each of us choosing to trust in trust, choosing to trust ourselves, and choosing to trust one another.
And we accomplish this by consciously and intentionally injecting conversations around trust as part of our normal day-to-day discourse and interlocution (I’ve always wanted to use that word).
One Last Thing… A Simple Call to Action
This message will not result in any direct financial upside for me. In fact, I am incurring a great cost in time, energy, resources, and yes, financials, to write and publish this manifesto.
I ask for only one thing… Do you trust me enough to share this message with the person that you consider to be the most influential person in your network? And by influential, this is likely not your drinking buddy. It is very likely the person that you have some level of trepidation when you interact with them (manager, business leader, mentor, spouse (?), etc.).
If you are not up to the task, are you courageous enough to share with me why you do not trust me and share with me how I can work to build trust with you?
If you do trust me enough to share this message with the most influential person in your network, here are the steps:
- (1) Call – don’t text – that person
- (2) Ask them: Do you trust me? (If they ask what do you mean? Just ask what is the first thing that comes to mind.)
- (3) Listen and be present.
- (4) If they say:
- Yes: ask them to read the Trust Manifesto @ trustmanifesto.energy and take up the call to action
- If they do not say yes: Accept the answer with grace and ask “What can we do to build more trust between us?”
- Share what built trust between you two with the broader community and @ mention me on Instagram (@softButStronger) or on Facebook (here)
If you’ve stayed with me thus far, thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for sharing this message with at least one other person that you look up to.
I trust you with my humble request.
(or Stuff I Would Write About If I Didn’t Need to Make the Manifesto more “Punchy”)
Distrust: The Root Cause of Any Negative Emotion
Take any negative emotion: jealousy, disappointment, betrayal, embarrassment, heartache, shame, etc. All these emotions come from someone doing or saying something that betrayed your trust. But more importantly, you didn’t trust the universe (or that person) in that that person did what they did because they were doing their best to meet their needs to the best they knew how at the time. And this is a tough pill to swallow, but the fact is: everyone, and I mean every single human being from Buddha to Hitler to Trump and beyond, does what they do in an effort to meet their needs to the best of their ability.
That does NOT mean that any action is justified.
I am only contending that we are all in a position of trying to meet our needs with the best tools that we have available to us at any given moment. Unfortunately, particularly if you are lacking sufficient skills to meet those needs, going about meeting your needs may result in substantial collateral damage.
The fact is, until we reach a utopian future that I hope one day will come to fruition, there will always be people that cause great suffering as a result of trying to get their needs met. And there is very little we can control there (I am not saying we don’t attempt to mitigate this.).
But what that means is, despite our every disinclination to have empathy for these types of people – this is simply an opportunity to trust that the other person did the best they could with what tools they had available to them – and it presents an opportunity to have empathy for them.
Certainly, from my view, if they had the choice to pick the avenue that resulted in their needs being met without causing others suffering, they would have picked that option.
If you disagree with this, I accept that, but I am doing my best to avoid turning this into a strictly philosophical discussion – let alone a discussion around free-will vs. determinism (I’ll save that for a separate manifesto, perhaps.)
The importance of creating boundaries.
- Trust is paramount, yes, but it is also important to set boundaries. And those boundaries are established by your value system. Once you know what your values are, you can then effectively set boundaries around your life and relationships inside a framework of trust.
Sleep: The Ultimate Trust Test
- Why do we sleep? More specifically, why did we evolve to need sleep? There are many species that either do not need sleep or need a tiny fraction of the sleep that humans need: e.g. dolphins, giraffes, elephants, etc. But humans evolved to need tons of sleep. And not just a small amount, it consumes approximately one-third of each 24 hour period we are alive.
- Sleep is the ultimate test of trust. It could be read as the universe saying “Hey, you need to be vulnerable to create trust so I am forcing you to sleep so you can learn to trust each other, trust your body, and ultimately, the universe – because you will never be so vulnerable as when you are asleep, totally incapable of adequately responding to predation.”
- Interestingly enough, sleep is the most restorative when you are the most trusting. Have you ever seen a baby sleep? Babies are trusting by nature – and good god how well do they sleep!
- Similarly, have you ever tried to get restorative sleep when you are worried (i.e. not trusting) of a big meeting/event the next day?” Suffice it to say, when we are in a state of trust, we also are primed for the best and most restorative sleep.
The Purpose of Suffering: A Lesson in Trust
- Whenever we see, observe, or witness human suffering, it is only natural to ask “Why is this happening?” Even the most unconscionable acts of cruelty (e.g. the Holocaust, mass genocide by Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Spanish Inquisition, etc.) present us with an opportunity to trust the universe or distrust the universe.
- If we witness these horrific events and choose to be distrustful of one another or humanity, we only serving to perpetuate distrust and henceforth, more suffering.
- If we choose to learn from those opportunities and seek to better understand how we can learn to trust each other – then the suffering of others will not have gone to waste – and can be transmuted into greater levels of human flourishing.
- Every opportunity to distrust is also an opportunity to trust. It is two sides of the same coin. And just like a coin toss results in either heads or tails, every situation results in more trust or more distrust – it happens whether you are conscious of it or not.
Trust as a “Singularity”
- One definition of singularity is: “a point at which the derivative of a given function of a complex variable does not exist but every neighborhood of which contains points for which the derivative does exist”.
- To use this definition very, very loosely, I like to think of trust as a singularity – or, the point from which everything derives from. So, you cannot “derive” further into trust, but everything around the “trust singularity” is forced into and around the concept of trust. Meaning, everything must be weighed against or in light of trust.
- In other words, because trust is so fundamental to human interaction and flourishing – and yes, the universe – every action or experience can be seen in relation to trust; i.e. every action or experience either builds or dismantles trust.
Other Trust-Centric Ideas to Parking Lot For Later
An Alternative Path to Building Trust
- Sending/receiving money publicly with no profit to either party as a way to build trust.
Trust is the Highest Form of Energy and Consciousness in the Universe
- This might be too “woo woo” for some folks, so I will write on this later.
A Philosophical Conversation
Another one that could easily get long in the tooth…
- Do we start with trust and then lose trust?
- Or do we start with distrust and build towards trust?
Slaying Sacred Cows
And yes, I will go ahead and slay a sacred cow: If only the ten commandments were written this way (the “thou shalt” statements above”, how much better off could we be…
Jiu-jitsu as an opportunity to build trust with each other, especially during “tapping”.
The 2nd law of thermodynamics as applied to Trust
- This is totally a quarter baked idea…
- Take the second law of thermodynamics, for example, which roughly states that while all systems or subject to entropy, more colloquially stated, we experience this law in the form of higher energy moving towards areas of lower energy (e.g. systems of high-pressure move towards lower pressure, and high temperatures move towards lower temperatures, etc.).
- One could argue that everything begins with trust and, due to “trust entropy”, the “system” devolves into distrust. This is way too deep for a manifesto…