In Real Love we talk a lot about the incomparable role of trusting, but this begs the question, “Trust who?” In a previous blog, here I talked about when to trust, but here I will more directly address how we can decide WHO to trust.
Many years ago I learned to rappel, which means to descend a rope suspended from the side of a building, the top of a cliff, and so on. This is not an activity to be undertaken lightly. I proposed to walk backward off a two hundred-foot cliff, and if improperly prepared, I could have been killed. (At least from that height there is no reason to worry about injury.)
Who would I trust—with my life—to lead me in this potentially fatal adventure? The criteria were obvious. First, I wanted someone with experience and competence. I chose a man who had been on climbing expeditions to the Himalayas, and because he had returned alive, his competence was not in question.
But competence is not enough. What if this man taught people to rappel only because he enjoyed giving incorrect instructions or otherwise taking actions that could lead to accidents. What if he were a sociopath who delighted in the sound of bodies hitting the ground at high speed? But I knew several people familiar with my instructor, and there were no indications that he had malignant intent toward me or anyone else.
It’s not so different in choosing who to trust. Find someone who is competent and not harmful.
In Real Love, competence is demonstrated by an ability to be loving and to teach others how to feel loved, loving, responsible, and happy. This usually involves experience as a coach, but some people have a natural ability after only a little experience.
The second criterion could be stated as an ability to love, but you can actually relax that standard to include people who at least have no intent to cause injury—or to selfishly feed their own need for praise, power, pleasure, and more. If someone consistently appears to be peaceful, for example—without obvious fear or anger—it might be worth telling the truth to them even if they haven’t demonstrated competence. Such a person may not know what to say or do, but at least they’re not likely to hurt you.
Using these two simple criteria, we can look for and find people we can trust. The more we look, the more such people we’ll find, creating opportunities to feel seen, accepted, and loved.
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