What is trust?

By David Joel Miller.

Do you have trust issues?

Trust.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many people report they have trust issues.

It is a common complaint among people who come for counseling.

Some people are shy or anxious, others have been hurt. It’s tempting to believe that not trusting protects you from pain.

Not trusting can also cause you loneliness and isolation. The challenge is learning when to trust and when to be wary and cautious.

The definition of trust.

The dictionary, or denotative meaning, of trust as a noun is a firm belief in the truth, reliability, ability, or strength of someone or something. Synonyms for trust include your faith, confidence, certainty, and belief. This definition puts trust into the realm of your opinion or feelings about how much you are willing, or able to put aside your doubts and accept something is true because you want it to be true. This subjective quality of truth leads to differences in trust between people.

The many kinds of trust.

There is more than one kind of trust, depending on the nature of the relationship. The qualities you look for in a trustworthy car will be different from what you look for in deciding to trust a person. Learning who to trust, when to trust, and how much to trust is a valuable life skill. Here are some of the varieties of trust.

Competence-based trust.

Sometimes you must rely on the skills of others. You want a doctor can trust. You look for a medical professional who went to a good school, has a good reputation, or is a specialist. If your car needs fixing you should be looking for a good mechanic. The trust you have in professional people is primarily a belief that they can do what you want them to and that they will do their job correctly.

Situational trust.

When you go into a bank, you trust the teller and hand them your money. You would not trust a stranger on the street with your money. You are more likely to trust people you have just met at work man people you’ve recently met socially. Students initially trust a teacher who tells them to go somewhere or do something far more than they would trust a stranger standing outside the building. Situational trust is based on the role the other person fills rather than any other information you have about the individual.

Caring trust, trusting that they won’t try to hurt you.

Most people grow up believing that their families care about them. The universal expectation is that parents should care about their children and that siblings should care about each other. As parents grow older, there is an expectation that their children will care about them. Extended family members are likely to care more about you than strangers.

Throughout life, most people develop friendships which are based on mutual caring and trust. These early life experiences create a mental blueprint for how we should trust others and expect to be trusted. Having an early life caregiver who was not consistent and reliable can result in trust issues in adulthood. Learning inappropriate relationships because early caregivers were abusive or neglectful are called attachment disorders and are a major source of adult trust issues.

Having a friend who trusted violate the principle of caring trust makes it more difficult to form adult friendships.

Character-based trust.

Some people are easier to trust than others. Everything they do seems appropriate and consistent with what they say. People who are described as being of “good character” seem to be easier to trust. People we say have a good character I described as honest, loyal, and trustworthy. Many youth development programs are built on the idea that it is possible to teach children character values and that those who were good and well-behaved as children are likely to grow up to be trustworthy adults.

Character-based trust has become suspect in recent years. We hear on the news after someone has been arrested for a serious crime that the neighbors were surprised because “he always seemed like such a nice guy.” Despite adult skepticism that many people who appear honest and trustworthy just haven’t gotten caught yet, some people, because of their appearance and demeanor, give the outward appearance of warranting character based trust.

More information on this topic appears in the category – trust.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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