If you can’t let go of fears about a person ripping you off, cheating you, exploiting you, rejecting you or abandoning you — then you are going to struggle to trust them.
You have to question any preconceived opinions you have about them. Are your suspicions or doubts based on any evidence? Why don’t you trust this person? Maybe you do have genuine reasons to not trust certain people, but often our prejudices are not based on evidence.
For example, you can’t distrust every good-looking guy just because two good-looking guys in a row let you down. And that’s one pitfall people can fall into — they judge people solely based on their experience with other people of a similar demographic. But that’s not rational. And if you get into that frame of mind, then your distrust will push you away from meeting the good-looking guy who won’t let you down.
Another factor in the trust equation is that people often suspect other people of having certain traits, solely because they have certain traits. For example, if a person is dishonest, they may suspect other people of being dishonest simply because they would be dishonest in the same situation. So, you have to look at whether you are projecting your own traits onto someone else and therefore judging them inappropriately.
Another way mistrust forms, is through the ways we have been conditioned to perceive distinctions people have. For example, just because someone is wearing a designer suit doesn’t necessarily mean they have certain characteristics you may associate with these clothes. And just because someone is wearing ripped jeans and a hoody, doesn’t necessarily mean they have certain characteristics you may associate with these clothes.
There was a social experiment done some years ago. A person working for the experiment, dressed up in clothes typical for a homeless person, walked through a busy town centre, pretended to have a heart attack and collapsed to the ground. Despite his continued groans, dozens of people walked past this man, some of them even stepped over him, and it wasn’t for about ten minutes that someone knelt down to see if the man was alright.
Then the researchers performed a twist on the experiment. They dressed the man up in an expensive suit to resemble a smart professional businessman, and he proceeded with the same routine. But, this time, when the man collapsed, several people came to his aid within seconds. Prejudices can lead people to be very cruel and discriminatory.
You will most likely meet some dodgy characters in life, and I can say for certainty that they could quite equally be wearing a suit or a hoody. So, unless you really have any solid information about a person indicating reasons to distrust them, it is best to give them a chance. And I don’t mean trust the next character you meet with your life savings, but you can approach them without suspicion and doubt, and just be reasonable with them, and see how things develop.
Trusting people can make you feel vulnerable, but as long as you can come to terms with any losses you think people might incur for you, then you don’t have to worry.
The curious thing about trusting someone, is that many people are so used to being distrusted, that they actually really appreciate it when they are trusted.
By trusting someone, you are giving them responsibility — and this can boost a person’s confidence and make them feel more self-assured, capable and trustworthy.