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Trust is a like a two-way street, it is easier to trust people who appear to trust us. But who should start trusting first? A young child trusts because they can sense the heart of people who care for them. Adults are the same, it is easier to trust people when we see that they mean well. However, when we meet a new circumstance it becomes difficult to decide who to open to.

Whenever we enter a new environment, we start that assessment process all over again. Who should I trust and who should I avoid? The decisions that we make are guided by instincts or experiences we have collected over time. Everyone typically finds their friends, people they already trust and stick to them. But it is also easy to dislike someone because they remind you of someone who hurt you. When we have been hurt, our instinct is to withdraw and open to fewer people, sometimes grouping everyone in the “they will hurt me” category.

In a new situation, how do we decide to trust people? What about people who have already hurt us, how do we move forward? Trust starts with an acceptance that we may get hurt, and that is ok. Past experiences provide the information we use to decide when to connect or disconnect. If you have seen animals trying to cross a street, it is scary for them but they must get across. To do so, they use past experiences to determine the safest way to scamper across. Some animals have even learnt to use pedestrian crossings by watching humans.

Over time, we learn what is dangerous and what situations to avoid. Avoiding people altogether is senseless. Friendly people have also been hurt, but they have learnt how to adapt to the people around them. If all of this sounds complicated, just think, we do the same thing with food. We all know fried chicken, so we may try it but we know when to stop eating and when to ask for more. We know when this needs ketchup, hot sauce, some fries and of course when to spit it out. Relationships require learning how to get along with differing personalities and how to trust each person.

Every human being has a “flavour” and we learn over time what taste to accept and what to reject. Anybody who loves eating is excited when they see food, even when they don’t know how these things taste. We have been avoiding the beauty of experiencing the many wonderful flavours of the people around us. Every group of friends has someone grumpy, someone funny, someone crazy and some who is sad and in need of friendship. We may fall into anyone of  these categories from time to time.

Distrust comes with a decision that the only flavour I like is my own and leads to a sad and lonely life.

Why not learn to appreciate the multitude of flavours around you?

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