Friday, December 27, 2019

1387 Words Toward 2020

Naïve Trust – an infant’s trust. A trust without consciousness that betrayal is even a possibility. The baby who cries and is held to be comforted, changed, fed. And then cries at night for companionship and eventually the parents say…let him cry it out. She needs to learn to sleep through the night.

While little punkin’ is in there sup-supping there is a betrayal of this naivete. They will not ALWAYS come when I cry. Sometimes they will let me cry. The world shifts. The tiny human recalibrates power. Well. If I can’t get them in here when I cry because I’m bored or lonely or just want to see the cause and effect….what will I do with this? And choices are made. 

Naïve trust is frail and fails when tested. There is no experience to back up the faith, no evidence to give proof. In an infant’s case naïve trust is an expectation born out of necessity. You made me, if I am to survive you have a few promises to keep, human.

Blind Trust is a more sophisticated variation. It evolves when in a relationship, there is a consistent promise and it is consistently kept. He is a man of his word. If she says she is going to be here, she will be. Time and consistency create this blindness. But blind to what, exactly? Blind to the humanin this dynamic. If my friend is always on time and there is the day when not only is she late … but she just doesn’t show; I feel betrayed. Crushed maybe, or angry. In blind trust, our emotions, our monkey brain takes command of our thoughts. The broken, albeit perhaps unspoken, contract shreds at our connection (membership), our pattern of mutual respect is violated (status), and the rules themselves – that unspoken contract – are left in tatters. 

The only four social/relational contexts for conflict left unaassaulted is territory. But I can argue that territory violations are in the mix if we get a bit esoteric. 

Blind trust is an evolution of Naïve trust. It’s an evolution because it doesn’t trust as a matter of course per se, it has evidence trust is warranted and then it is all.in. And there’s the naïve part. Blind trust never looks back, it ignores everything but the social contract thus far created.

Is there another option? Yup. Conscious Trust. I’ve also seen this described as Mature Trust. It looks like this:

I know the people I interact with are humans with emotions and unruly monkey brains. The friend who blows me off? I bet there were signs. Indicators of something…a little cold-shoulder behavior recently? More stressed than usual? If this isn’t “like her” then something is afoot. But more than the tells in her behavior, bigger than that, Conscious Trust tells me … this violation isn’t all about me.

Maybe her pipes burst and her home is flooded. Right. Now. When we are supposed to be having lunch. 

Well, why didn’t she call me? Really? Would I call me under those circumstances? Probably not. Not until water had ceased the spontaneous baptism of my earthly possessions. 

Conscious, human level trust allows me to take a step back from the raging sense of violation and consider possibilities. It also helps me realize, like the frustrated toddler left to his own devices (all personal needs being met), I am not powerless in this violation.

This goes deep when the violation is sharp. When it’s a partner, spouse, a close friend and the violation is bleeds out over our lives. 

Years ago, I had a friend and colleague who helped me launch a project. He’d have given me the shirt off his back if I needed it. Over a period of 2-3 years, he periodically slipped a wheel off the tracks. He’d ignore a decision or an instruction in front of colleagues. He’d argue with me in front of staff. We’d talk about it – he’d apologize for what was noted as open disrespect because he had the utmost respect for me. 

Part of him did. The rest of him though was driven by a myriad of personal struggles and at the end of the day, he did not do well with women in positions of authority. I knew it. We talked about it. So why was I spun half-way up a wall and two kinds of sideways in the final blow? The whatof the circumstances isn’t important. What IS important is I worked hard to keep my human brain in charge of everything except acknowledging the reality of how he showed up in his life where women were concerned. He’s not a bad guy. He wasn’t ‘targeting me’ in any way. 

On behalf of my organization I called to apologize to the affected parties. One of those phone calls went out to a retired NYPD officer who said… you’re too nice. A byproduct of me explaining I should have seen this coming and I was truly sorry the mess had impacted him.

If you know me, you know I’m not that nice. The little disaster wasn’t because I am nice, it was the result of me slipping back into a type of blind trust after enough time would go by between events (see? he’s really trying…)

The human-conscious level of trust would have been me taking stock much earlier in the timeline of events. Questions like, am I up for this happening periodically ad infinitum? Is having him on thisteam worth the cost of periodic open disregard for the leadership of the team? Can I take it in stride when I am cleaning up the fall-out?

If I had taken stock and answered those questions with a yes then two things would have unfolded in what became the Last Straw. I would have known it was coming given the precursor events and therefore, would not have been surprised. I would have been aware of my conscious choice to have him on this particular team regardless, and I would not have felt personally betrayed.

There is power in that. 

It’s not what I did. Instead, I called one of those friends who I consciously trust will call me on my crap and proceeded to lose my mind. He let me vent. Then listen as I came to terms with my blindness. After a couple of days of cleaning up my internal chaos and the external fall-out of my colleague’s actions, I finally did what I could have done a couple of years prior. I came to terms with this:

I trust this is a consistent, if not frequent, reality in his life. I trust it will happen again. I trust I will spend hours of precious resources cleaning up the fall-out. I trust he is unconscious enough he can’t help himself (and even if he is conscious – he doesn’t help himself). And I’m not up for it. 

We had coffee. I fired him. It came at a cost. As the months followed, I saw him around less and less. His stated understanding that our friendship superseded his disagreement with my decision was well-meaning and his personal pattern was predictable. Eventually he just disappeared from my circle and I did not pursue him.

So why 1100 words plus about definitions on trust? The story about the fired friend isn't earth shattering, I have a few of those. I'm guessing so do you. 

I’ve been reading something lately that reminded me of Tim Levine’s research and what he calls a Default to Truth. As a whole, when we don’t have an overabundance of evidence to the contrary, we assume Truth. We default to blind trust. Even with that overabundance of evidence, at times we will still assume truthfulness in someone’s words, intentions, behaviors, persona. 

Levine says we need this. He’s right. It goes to the need for tribal survival and if I’m going to survive, my tribe has to survive too. If we wake up every morning and presume everyone is out to get us… all the time… yeah, doesn’t typically end well.

This Default to Truth doesn’t need to blind us though, and its ballast doesn’t need to be extreme paranoia. A little conscious, or mature, trust goes a long way. And because we aren’t particularly good at it on our own when the violation is personal, it helps to have a close tribe who is committed to calling your monkey brain out so you can reign it back in.

If you don’t have that, cultivate it. This type of tribe is worth more than can be counted and as I stare down a new decade, I am extremely grateful for these people in my life. I’m certain I will need them.


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