I was reminded recently of Aristotle’s assertion that to extend trust is more valuable than to be trustworthy. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit, because I find it so darned provocative. It was an especially unexpected and interesting reminder because it came from an accountant with whom we were consulting about how to streamline our community’s bookkeeping.
Our main aims going into that meeting were efficiency and transparency — how to clarify line item categories so that financial statements were easy to follow, so that we could account accurately for every nickel — in short, to exhibit impeccable trustworthiness. And of course the accountant wasn’t suggesting otherwise. But she did toss out the Aristotle idea, and it’s stuck with me… It is more important to be trusting than to be trustworthy… Hm…
I don’t think it’s possible to separate the two. It seems like Trust tends to be a feedback loop that begets more of itself, like Love and Laughter and Kindness. If we know ourselves to be trust-worthy, then we are more likely to be trusting, and if we are trusting of others, we’re more likely to think of ourselves as trustworthy, right? I think so. AND —
Also — this is perhaps what our accountant was getting at — we sometimes go out of our way to demonstrate our worthiness of trust, to be meticulous and clean and above reproach, not because we are trusting of others but because we fear a lack of trust. That rings true, too.
I mean, when I’m bending over backwards to prove that you can count on me, that may speak less to a relationship of trust and more to the fact that I’ve been betrayed before, and I don’t want anyone (myself or others) to fall into those same traps. While the intention is good, it actually doesn’t do much to foster more natural free-flowing trust. Furthermore, trying too hard to prove myself trustworthy also might suggest that I don’t trust others to trust me, which can feed into a culture of mistrust and even suspicion.
So… where and how do we place trust? Where and how, indeed, especially if we’ve been burned before? (And we’ve all been burned before).
I think, perhaps, we start with placing it in ourselves: we practice trusting ourselves to be true and whole, trusting that we know what we need to know, that we are rich in wisdom and intuition and experience. This makes it possible to share trust outwardly appropriately — to extend it to others, to the world, maybe even to the Divine Order of Things. This becomes an act of generosity, connection, and communion.
Ernest Holmes talks about having the faith of God rather than faith in God.
It starts right here, in you and me, with faith and trust in and as ourselves. If we really get that — if we can believe in ourselves, and stop relentlessly trying to prove and earn and suffer enough to be worthy — then the risks we take with our hearts aren’t so risky, and maybe don’t seem quite as dangerous.
For sure, it doesn’t guarantee that we won’t get hurt again. But since the self-imposed isolation of mistrust is already painful, maybe instead of preemptively perpetuating the agony of suspicion, we can practice approaching life with an open-heart, with trust and faith.
I can’t wait to see what happens.
Our Bosque Center for Spiritual Living CHOIR will be singing this Sunday, June 30! Join us at 10:00 am. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves