Who do you trust? It’s a pretty good question – especially these days when we are so savvy we know when we’re being sold a bill of goods by a someone that acts like it’s all about us when it’s really about them! Except for car salesmen... I really do believe they have my best interest at heart!
But whether you’re buying a new Chevy or investing in a new relationship trust can be a difficult thing to give away. Once burned twice shy goes the proverb and it stands to reason that based on past negative experiences (and we all have them) you’d be hesitant to jump blindly into a new situation without cautiously vetting it first.
Recently I was able to coach a couple to a significant breakthrough in their relationship; For the past 20 years Barry had been the codependent husband, struggling daily with his wife Arlene’s alcohol addiction. His natural tendencies to want to fix Arlene, to save her, kept Barry in the relationship year after year as his sense of self worth was validated through his good deeds and unimaginable patience. But after two decades of despair, putting her to bed at 7pm after she passed out, cleaning up after her when got sick from the alcohol, making excuses to friends, co workers, family, Barry finally put his foot down and threatened to leave Arlene if she didn’t get her act together. That’s when I met them. In a rare case of double coaching, I decided to take them both on as clients at the same time. I worked with them separately at first. Getting Arlene off alcohol and repairing the root causes of her misery wasn’t easy, she had not only the 20 years of drinking but a life time of self esteem issues and negative limiting beliefs that we needed to resolve. Through hypnosis and the amazing Timeline Therapy™, I took Arlene back to the root cause of her pain – her father abandoning her and her family when she was just six years old – and created a reframe of the situation where she could see her father as the weak, irresponsible person he was, and see herself not as someone who deserved to be left behind, but an innocent bystander in a hit and run marriage.
With Barry I focused on getting him to see that his pattern was that of a savior – stepping in to solve the problem that Arlene couldn’t on her own. His own struggles to take over for his father when he passed away at a young age forced Barry to be father and husband and provider. He stuffed his own needs way down and protected his mother from poverty and pain, doing what he felt he needed to do: save her.
When Arlene and Barry met, they both had come out of failed first marriages and were desperately looking for a partner that would understand each other’s pain and make it better. Barry, believing he was helping Arlene, watching over her like he did with his mother. But Arlene, not believing she was worth the love and support she got, descended deeper into her alcoholism and their dysfunctional relationship limped along.
But once they came to see me something happened that they weren’t prepared for; Arlene, clear that she had only two choices - sobriety or death - got sober and stayed sober and began to build her life as an independent, strong person who understood her own worth in the world, and Barry didn’t know what to do with himself. As a savior and caretaker he was no longer needed, and he found himself clinging to the fear (or perhaps the unconscious hope) that Arlene might relapse. Barry’s mistrust of Arlene’s commitment to sobriety was keeping his former self in play and it was causing a rift in their relationship. He used his mistrust of her sobriety as a mask for the fear that he was no longer useful – and ultimately no longer needed. Or loved.
After working with me, Barry realized that not trusting Arlene would only drive them further apart and in order to create a new relationship with his ‘new’ wife he needed to be reborn as well. And that required trust... trust not only in Arlene, but in himself, that he could rely on himself to be simply Arlene’s husband not her father or savior. Trust that who he was was good enough, he didn’t need heroics or 11th hour miracles performed to show his value. He agreed that he would let go of his old paradigm and take on a new one: Trust.
Barry and I came up with a plan to show Arlene his new commitment. He bought her a very simple, very special engagement ring and on one knee asked Arlene to marry him. Again. He told her that the ring was a a symbol of his trust and he was giving it to her for her to keep to remind her of his resolve. After 20 years of marriage, Barry and Arlene were brand new people eager to discover themselves and each other for the first time.
Earnest Hemmingway wrote "The best to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them" and he’s right, trust is not something that someone has to earn, it’s a gift you give knowing you may get hurt, but you give it anyway because you understand that life is risk and you are responsible for your choices.
Here’s some things you can do right now to create trust in your life:
1. Give up the story. Whatever ‘story’ you’re telling about yourself or someone else that keeps you at a distance is likely a story that isn’t true – and certainly not serving you. See if you can create a new story based on the best of you and the other person, not the worst. “Look for the gold in the other person” my coach used to tell me. It works if you try.
2. Practice trust. Start in small doses, small moves. Pick a situation that requires you to trust something or someone and simply open your arms, close your eyes and your mouth and allow things to unfold. These small, bold moves will get you in the habit of trusting not only bigger things in life, but your own ability to instinctively choose powerfully.
3. Have faith. When choosing trust over mistrust, you never know for certain if you’re making the right call. Life can be a gamble, but when you take that leap of faith toward a goal you know is right for you, you will find out who you really are and what you’re willing to do to achieve it. When Barry took his leap of faith, he fell right into the arms of someone who caught him - Arlene.
Understanding that trust is a puppet without strings, a gift without a receipt, an “I love you” without the need for the return will change the way you live and love your life. Because living life is not always about playing it safe, sometimes a leap of faith is required, sometimes an act of blind trust is necessary to move forward – something we’re all here to do. So take that risk and trust someone – give it away and know that with good intentions and having your heart in the right place all will work out the way its supposed to.
Be your best,