The Power of Trust



The more I am reading, discussing with other people, and pondering about the topic of trust, the more I realize that my thoughts - which you will find in the following lines - are by no means complete and certainly will raise questions. However, I now simply trust that, enough pondering has been done on my side and that it will provoke some kind of reflection in one or the other of you.


Is this universe a friendly place? According to Albert Einstein, this is one of the most important questions we all have to ask ourselves. The answer is all critical to how we act in life and ultimately if we live a happy or a miserable life. Since we cannot calculate everything down to the last detail, we simply have to trust in a bunch of things. When one does not trust in the basic goodness and OKness of people, situations, or nature, higher walls, separation, and fighting seem to be needed. Change, diversity, and unpredictability are constants in life. The more one trusts the better and easier one will be able to react to these situations.


Inner Pressure Decreases As Trust Increases


We all have a tendency and a longing towards trust and community. There is no need to learn trust or to change. It is more about remembering trust and strengthening it. Nonetheless, instead of trusting, we often try to squeeze ourselves and others into molds and want to standardize and measure everything precisely. This behavior goes hand in hand with the need for safety, knowing things precisely - and breathing digital life and thus measurability into everything. I am not at all against using accuracy and measuring the world, however from experience, I can say that the inner pressure decreases as trust increases. This means letting things and people be as they are and trust that everything is already done and fine the way it is.


Of course, this sounds quite provocative and may even sound paradoxical - do nothing and get everything. What can possibly be the outcome if everyone behaves like this? As with everything in life, it is about the right measure of activity and passivity that leads to long-term happiness. Who does not know the phenomenon that after a vacation, crazily important requests have magically cleared up by themselves without any action during the time of absence?


You are Enough and You Belong


We do our best, but there is always a part which we can't control. The way we behave when we are trusting changes everything. If you trust that nature is good, then you don't have to be scared of every angry person or spider that crosses your way. If your mindset shifts to the belief that all people have the same rights and are in essence the same - figuratively spoken each of us is a water drop which form together the ocean - then you are likely to treat the homeless person on the street, the annoying colleague at work or whoever you feel distant from in a different way. In reverse, when something bad happens to you, you will be less afraid, if you assume that the universe and your fellow human beings are good to you. I very much like the reminder which the little greeting Namaste can be. Translated it means: The divine in me greets the divine in you.


There Is Enough for Everybody


Confidence and trust help you achieve serenity and calm - a state we all desire so much. You can have serenity at a push of a button by choosing trust. In the workplace, I believe, serenity and also humor are especially powerful. If it is missing in someone or a team setup, most likely trust is missing, too. The confidence to dare is missing. (German: Das Vertrauen sich zu trauen fehlt). An effect that goes along is the so-called expert halo. Formal or informal leaders have such a strong dominance in a team that no other team member would speak up against them. What this causes is clear. The team is working purely with the intelligence of one or a few team members. This can be helpful for a short while to get stuff done quickly. However, in a modern, fast-changing world in which people thrive for self-empowerment, this is not the answer.


Additionally, this behavior is a downward spiral. The daring ones dare more and more with a tendency towards narcissism and the others get more and more frightened or disengaged. They lose the feeling of being OK and belonging to the group. In case you are someone who has a tendency to give your two cents to everything: Shut up. Let others have their light. Give them time, they might be not as eloquent and fast as you are. Trust that others have to add something meaningful. In case you are a leader give complete areas of responsibility to your team and let them do their stuff - no nagging. People grow through your encouragement, not through your constant complaining. Letting others shine does not take away any of your glory. Trust, that there is enough for everybody. With such behavior, you grow team members on eye level and therewith leverage all resources. The others, the quiet ones, their task is to dare and show themselves. Believe in yourselves and that, what you have to say is an important contribution.


The Power of Communication


In case you have caught yourself in the descriptions above and now want to change but realize that it is not that easy, admit openly what you struggle with. Everyone is different and has made different experiences in the past. For one the challenge lies in shutting up and really listen to others whereas speaking up against the majority with the risk that the idea will be rejected sounds like horror to others. In a trusting world, all this may be. We all start where we are. At best no energy is wasted on blaming others. We assume that each person at any given time does the best they possibly can at this very moment.


Giving oneself and others the feeling that we or they have to be a certain way, intelligence, body type or carry particular beliefs in order to fit in, results in stress for both sides. A continuous feeling of not fitting in and not belonging causes anxiety and strain. This explains why it is important how we treat ourselves and others. Do we offend ourselves and others or do we give confidence that I/he/she/it can do it? It is scientifically proven that bad relationship experiences have a negative impact on our pain memory. Usually, this starts already in childhood. Therefore, we should pay attention to how and what we give into the world. Are you causing emotional pollution and giving your unprocessed negative feelings to the outside world? Don’t fall into this trap. It is a dead-end. A bad relationship experience is by the way not only caused for the one who gets the pollution but also for the one who causes it.


Here comes a positive example for communication and trust. Each time I hear the story it brings tears to my eyes. Tara Brach, my all-time favorite mediation teacher told this story about a friend of hers who was a teacher and once had to deal with a difficult class. She gave the students, kids around ten years old, the task to write something nice about their seat neighbors on a little piece of paper and hand it to the neighbor afterward. With this and similar exercises, the mood in the class changed for the better after a while. Many years later at the funeral of one of the former students, who had lost his life in Vietnam, his parents showed a little piece of paper which was carefully folded many times and accordingly almost rimed. They had found it in his purse. He had carried the little note which he had gotten many years back at school with him all the time. After the parents showed the note, another former classmate reported, that she also still had hers, and after another one admitted that he still carried it around. In the end, it was a bunch of them who shared what an impactful and positive experience this small exercise of appreciation had been for them. Sometimes we just need someone to believe in us and show us what good things are already there to remind us.


Trust Your Emotions - Observe, Let Calmness Return Then Act


As we yogis say: Magic is the change of perspective. Trust fades when there is a feeling of “I am not enough and therefore I do not belong here”. Instead of setting goals higher and higher try to accept that you are enough without all the stuff you have earned or not earned. You are perfect and worthy how you are in this very moment and so is everybody else. Tough stuff? Maybe, but this is the key to freedom. Whether you believe it or not. Even if you are still in doubt - it is totally fine. Accept that these feelings of dislike and dought are also part of yourself. Give them space just as you do it to positive emotions and feelings. Like all the things and people that sometimes upset us, they are allowed to be there as well. Pushing unwanted feelings away and denying them just suppresses them and they will definitely come back. They definitely have also a positive aspect in showing us the way forward and where we need to change something or work on ourselves. The only important thing is to, first observe let calmness return, and then act. Emotions and thoughts come to us, like people and situations. Not what happens to us is the problem, but how we react to it. If you know that you are the ocean, then you don't have to fear the waves. The waves will pass and the water will be calm again.


Voluntary Opportunities:

  • Where in your life do you trust already a lot, feel you are in a community, and that you are accepted as you are? Where would you like to get more of that in your life?

  • Which social group triggers you in particular? Try to find positive characteristics of their members. Highly recommend watching the documentation from Gabor Maté to understand people with addictions better.

  • What do you think you're particularly bad at? Take a week to try or practice it anyway. Keep a sense of humor about it.