I recently went on a first date with someone, and after dinner I offered to drive her home. As we approached my car, which was quietly parked on the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, I turned to her and without saying a word, handed her the key to my car.
She stared at me with a hint of suspicion. When I said ‘would you like to drive?’, her suspicion changed to surprise. After taking a brief moment to process this unexpected offer, she said ‘I would love to, thank you’ and smiled. She then got in the driver’s seat, and I got into the passenger seat of my car, for the first time.
As much as I was interested about how she might have been feeling, I became equally interested in how I was feeling at that moment. I felt calm and curious.
I have observed in life that the benefits of practicing trust often outweigh the risks of feeling disappointed.
Since moving to Portugal last year, a foreign country to me at the time, as I did not know a single person the day I landed here, every day I am still faced with opportunities to learn how to trust in what I do not yet know.
In business, I have had to learn how to become comfortable practicing trust regularly. People on my team, with clients and investors, and the many service providers that support the business. In all of these situations and more, I have to trust.
The act of trust requires the unknown as a key ingredient.
If I try to know everything, or even as much as I possibly can, in advance, I am no longer practicing trust. I am then planning. The trust I am reflecting on here is when I do not have the benefit of knowing everything that I desire to know about the particular person or situation.
It is of course much safer to move through life not practicing trust. To be constantly checking over my shoulder, to be cautious of not being taken advantage of, to avoid disappointment and hurt.
I can minimize the downside by assuming that very few, and very little, that I am unfamiliar with, is deserving of my trust. I am then also minimizing the upside of what I can receive from life.
In my experience, when I have leaned more in to trust, of other people, of situations, and of the universe, I do end up with more disappointments. I also end up with many more pleasant experiences than I would have ever imagined.
The benefit of practicing trust is that the balance tips more towards getting pleasantly surprised, in really meaningful and material ways, than in getting disappointed, often in minor and tolerable ways.
The practice of trust does require a practice of tolerance. To be able to tolerate setbacks, disappointments and unwanted outcomes. It is in these moments where I can choose to be a victim, tell myself ‘never again’ and become closed to the world. Or I can recognize that the emotion of feeling disappointed is unpleasant, but temporary. And not be scared of being disappointed, again.
In observing my one year old nephew, I can see that he has no choice but to practice trust. From the moment he was born, he has been indiscriminately placing his trust in everyone, and everything, around him.
This leads me to wonder if we begin life with a greater ability to practice trust, and somewhere along our journey, we begin to practice trust less. Likely out of protection, perhaps from a traumatic experience, we become scared.
If when faced with someone new or something unfamiliar, my starting position is to assume that I might be taken advantage of, then I have placed a limit on what might come to me.
When I trust others, it shows. There is an energetic quality of trust that is magnetic. It is difficult to describe in words, however my experience gives me conviction that it exists.
Trust has a quality of generosity to it. When I practice trust, I give. When I practice trust, I also receive. The more I give, the more I get. Be it from another person, a particular situation, or the universe at large.
Trust is a currency that is helpful to move through life with. It is something of value that is traded, not in a transactional manner but in a deeper manner. It enables me to have access to more people, more opportunities and most of all, more of myself.
The greatest gift I can give myself is trust. In a constantly clouded mind, often filled with thoughts of fear, insecurity, doubt and uncertainty, trust is an appropriate counterbalance to invite in thoughts of confidence, belief, faith and curiosity.
The most important relationship in my lifetime is the relationship I have with myself. The practice of trust clearly begins here.