“Trusting someone is my decision, then proving me right is their choice.”
History and fictional narratives are littered with stories of betrayal. Julius Caesar was murdered by his supposed friends. Darth Vader from Star Wars assassinated the Emperor Palpatine. Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen sold CIA information to the Soviet Military intelligence agency. Judas, one of the apostles, betrayed Jesus by revealing his identity to get him arrested.
Even within the context of our own lives, we may have been let down by people in whom we placed our trust. It could be the co-worker who stole your idea, an ex who made false promises to you, or a friend who didn’t show up when you needed them to be there. If you’ve been battered and bruised, it’s easy to become cynical and close off your heart to others.
Based on my experience, I know how tough it is to find people who have got your back. I used to naively trust people because I believed that they had my best interests at heart when deep down they were driven by selfish motives. I didn’t understand their chessboard approach to life, where every move was calculated, and I was merely a pawn to be eliminated from the board.
I didn’t beat myself up for missing the red flags, because I knew that, like most people, I was poorly equipped when it came to gauging a person’s character. All of us were taught to give people the benefit of the doubt, and we’re inclined to take people at face value. That’s why we’re impressed with smooth talkers, beauty queens, and magnates clad in designer wear, only to miss out any potential signs of a dubious personality.
Shakespeare captured this truth when wrote that ‘all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” On the stage of life, most people wear masks that position them in the best possible light. They’ll smile, charm, and show interest in you while concealing any envy and insecurities. Sometimes we are blindsided by unexpected resistance, manipulation, and hostility.
This doesn’t mean that everyone that we meet is out to get us and is unreliable. But it does imply that in our competitive world, where everyone’s fighting to make it, trust is becoming a rare commodity. As much as we like to believe that we can go it alone, we can’t. We’re an interdependent species who need each other to survive and thrive.
If our feelings and fortunes rely on other people’s conduct, then learning how to decipher whether a person is trustworthy or not is a crucial skill to learn. Trust is the container in which connection, intimacy, and progress can flourish. Whether you’re looking to hire or collaborate with someone at work, or you’re searching for a long-term intimate partner, trust is essential.
Before investing your time, heart, and efforts into someone, be willing to plumb the depths of their character. Hold back from judging others based on first impressions and take time to observe their behavior and obtain external proof of their character from referrals. With enough time, your experiences with the person will gradually reveal deeper layers of their personality, which steadily build a picture of their trustworthiness and loyalty.
Keep in mind that before you seek trustworthy people, you need to be able to trust yourself. Be willing to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re the kind of person that other people can confide in. Do you demonstrate integrity and loyalty in your relationships? It’s important to do this because we attract people based on the kind of energy we project into the world.
Once you’re convinced that you’re the type that others can count on, you can look out for your kindred spirits who will display these five telltale signs of trustworthiness:
1. They are consistent in their behavior: A trustworthy person won’t confuse you with different behavior every time you interact with them. No matter what the situation, they will display the same patterns and maintain the same attitude towards you. Because of their consistency, you are reasonably sure about what to expect of them and can feel assured that nothing will come out of left field. They won’t switch masks and pretend to be someone else when in the company of others. Their reputation is consistent, and everyone can identify their common traits. We, as humans, like predictability, and we feel safe and relaxed in their presence.
2. They listen to you with interest and compassion: Trustworthy people are open and compassionate listeners. When you talk about the things that are important to you, they listen deeply. Even if they don’t offer advice, they will hold a safe space for you to vent and speak out about what’s bothering you. They are humble and secure in themselves, for this reason, they don’t feel the need to dominate conversations, and they focus on supporting others instead. No matter what you’re going through, they will be there for you because they genuinely care.
3. They will be honest, even if it might hurt: Truth and transparency are important values to a trustworthy person. Therefore, they will always be willing to reveal the reality of a situation as they see it if they know that it’s for your highest good. It’s important to remember that they will never do this out of malice and they will try their best to offer their opinion with kindness and sensitivity. They’ll also be willing to give up information that could cause conflict and put their reputation at risk to save and protect those that matter most to them.
4. They’re open and don’t pretend: A trustworthy person does not play games. They won’t hide things and try to manipulate situations by acting a certain way. When you deal with them, you’re sure that they are being genuine and not pretending to be something they’re not. They’re an open book, willing to sharing everything with you about their life. Unlike a fake person, who shows signs of anxiety in their body language and facial expressions, trustworthy folks display open gestures and a calm disposition that subconsciously puts you at ease.
5. Their actions match their words: One of the most significant indicators of trustworthiness is when an individual consistently walks their talk. In other words, they have the self-control and ethical framework that directs them to always follow through on what they say they’ll do, even if they’re tempted to drop out. You’re convinced that you can rely on them and you would not have to worry about whether or not they can stick with their commitments. Remember – actions speak louder than words – a trustworthy person will clearly demonstrate that they are capable of keeping their promises to you, and they won’t duck out of them by making excuses.
Just as we trust that the sun will rise every morning, we need to have people around us who we know will rise up for us. Like the sun, these rare companions will fill our lives with light, and warm us with their love. We should reflect the same light and love back to them, in return.
All my best on your journey,
Reflection Question: Why is it important for you to have trustworthy people in your life? How many of them are in your life right now?
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