A recap on simple trust-simple trust is the kind of trust that most of us, most of the time, take as our paradigm. It is unthinking and unreflective-unthinking acceptance. It is the absence of suspicion, and demands no reflection, no conscious choice, no scrutiny, and no justification. It is naïve trust.
You may infer from the previous paragraph that I think simple trust should be eliminated. No so. It is, in many ways…well, simple. And simple works sometimes. It certainly requires less energy. There is a beauty to how our bodies and minds are designed to conserve energy, so that we survive-both physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So, making peace with our natural survival tendencies is healthy, in my view.
However, there is a difference between surviving and thriving. And, often when simple trust is betrayed, it leads to the opposite of thriving. It can lead to resentment, anger, outrage, self-recrimination, cynicism, despair, bitterness, and on and on. And, being overwhelmed with those emotions and actions may be still surviving, but not many people would consciously say it constitutes the future they desire. And, these emotions, if not addressed, can actually impede the possibility of surviving. They release toxic hormones and chemicals in our body that actually harm our physical and mental wellbeing.
So, it is valuable to consider how you respond to the inevitable times that simple trust is betrayed in your life. The betrayal could be as simple as dashed expectations within a relationship. It could be a simple broken promise-either explicit or implicit. Or it could be a major betrayal that is devastating. Wherever the betrayal lands on the “severity meter” for us, it always requires a response. Not necessarily an outward response. But, at the very least, an inward response.
One possible response is to evolve the dynamic of simple trust into “blind trust.” Blind trust is no longer innocent. It has been exposed to violation and betrayal. It has been presented with evidence for distrust, but it not only rejects such evidence, it denies it. Blind trust is denial. It is essentially self-deceptive. It ignores the evidence and carries on.
Blind trust ultimately becomes absolute, unconditional trust. Fernando Flores says that in a religious context, it might better be called faith. While I believe this is very common way of relating in religious circles, I do not agree with his statement that there is an equivalency between blind trust and faith. My view is that true faith is an entirely different dynamic than blind trust and invites doubt as an essential element of it. But, that is a topic for another day.
Blind trust, like authentic trust, requires effort to maintain. But, rather than openness, this effort results in narrowness and defensiveness. Blind trust is most definitely not aimless, but rather is intensely directed. In reality, it is a strategy-a misdirected survival strategy. Blind trust can be articulate, coherent and convincing. But, it locks us into a particular perspective with well-defined boundaries, which excludes all related counterevidence.
In reality, blind trust is primarily bolstered by our inherent drive to be right, and as a result, ignores all evidence to the contrary and “cherry-picks” the evidence we see to only notice that which supports the blind-trust-based assumptions we live in. Until, of course, the trajectory of whatever it is we are applying the blind trust to runs its inevitable course. And, then, amongst the wreckage that this inevitable end will generate, we sit and cry out and rail against the unfairness of it all. This actually, in the moment, has its own level of satisfaction because we still get to be right about something even though we actively contributed to its end result through our own willful self-deception.
If you think you have mastered the art of avoiding slipping into blind trust, I would encourage you to simply consider over the course of your life where it might have been in play. It is a fairly easy reflective exercise. Just consider any times in your life where you have been blindsided or noticed glaring blind spots in your awareness. Blind trust might have been lurking nearby.
In our next blog post, we will look some examples of blind trust at work, and then start considering what to do about it.