Who Do You Trust?

Who Do You Trust?

I just finished reading an article that was posted on the Denver Channel News (http://www.thedenverchannel.com/money/business-news/in-god-we-trust-but-not-each-other).  The article describes how Americans have significantly decreased their trust in one another.  Reportedly, after a recent survey, Americans believe that only about one-third of people can be trusted; a significant decrease from a similar survey done 40 years ago.  So why do we think our trust in each other has declined?  I don’t think there is one answer to this question, but possibly some hypotheses that may help to better explain this decrease.  The article put forth some ideas of why they believe trust has been more difficult to establish.  Some of their ideas were the increasing the gap between the rich and poor, less social interactions, and media discussing crime.

So what are your thoughts about why we are so distrusting?  I think, similarly to the article, that one potential reason could be the focus our media portrays of all of the bad things that are happening in the world.  Our brains get skewed when all we hear about are crimes and bad things happening.  We don’t hear about the other millions of people who are not committing murders, robberies, or other criminal acts.  So sometimes our brain will filter out all of the trustworthy people around us and remember the ones who have harmed people.  This makes it more difficult to see the reality that most people are not out to harm you.  However, thinking about the potential risk for harm when meeting someone, is important to assess in order to protect yourself. 

Another possibility may be that something bad has happened to you in your past.  Many of us hold onto a negative event where we may have trusted someone to help us, but they didn’t.  Maybe a doctor who recommended a medication that you had a negative reaction to, or a friend who forgot to do something important that you had asked them to do, or a parent who you felt wasn’t supporting you.  Many times some of these negative experiences were created by people who did not mean or intend to hurt you.  Sometimes something unexpected or out of their control occurs, which ends up causing you harm.  Other times, it may be our perception of the event or relationship.  We may think that if someone cares about us or wants the best for us, they would act in a certain way.  If we don’t’ communicate what this means, the other person may misread our signals and not be able to provide us with the support that we needed/wanted.  Our brain plays tricks on us here too.  If someone who we trusted disappointed us, we may hold onto this event and remember it every time we want or try to trust someone else.  This kind of irrational thinking is often times referred to as “all or none” thinking.  For example, if one doctor recommended something that wasn’t helpful or even caused more pain; we may then generalize this to all doctors and tell ourselves that all doctors are untrustworthy and going to harm us.  We may even use this type of thinking when we are in an intimate relationship.  My ex-partner hurt me and now any person I may want to date will just hurt me too, so there’s no point in dating. 

When we engage in these distorted thoughts, it can make the world seem more scary and unsafe.  When you meet a stranger, think about what thoughts are going through your head.  What have been your past experiences related to strangers?  Are there any positive things that happened from meeting someone new? 

Trust is difficult to define and I believe there are many different levels of trust.  We may trust a co-worker to know about our difficulties at work, but maybe wouldn’t trust them to know our intimate details of our life.  So think about, who in your life do you trust and why?  What things do you trust that person with knowing?  Are there others in your life who you may want to also trust, at least to some degree?       

Trusted Therapy, Inc
Tonya McFarland, PsyD
1030 Johnson Rd, #323
Golden, CO  80401