Be selective generous with your trust. You want to have as many people in your life who you can count on, but no more. The cost of trusting someone who then betrays your trust is high, but the cost of not trusting anyone is even higher. So how exactly do you go about it? It’s easy to say be careful who you trust, but how do you actually live this in real life?

Trust those who earned your trust

Chances are there are already some people in your life who have earned your trust. People you know that have shown you, through their actions over the lifetime of your relationship with them, that they are honest and sincere with you. Who have shown integrity. Whose moral code and character have been consistent and reliable.

Here’s a few questions to assess how trustworthy a person is:

  • Has the person kept the promises they made?
  • How dependable have they been over time?
  • Did this person honor the commitments they made?
  • How loyal is this person towards other people in their life?
  • Have you ever witnessed this person talking about someone else behind their back?
  • Do you believe this person has the strength to tell you the truth even when it’s difficult?
  • What’s this person’s reputation?
  • What are this person’s personal values?

Use these questions to assess how trustworthy a person is. Realize that however you answer these questions, this isn’t a perfect trustworthiness assessment test. These questions are simply meant to help you get a sense for the level of integrity a person has shown towards you.

Stop giving the benefit of the doubt to repeat offenders

If someone has broken your trust repeatedly in the past, then you should assume that they’re not trustworthy. I’ve seen this too many times where two people, whether in a friendship, a romantic partnership, or a business, perpetuate a cycle of giving and breaking trust, and it never ends well.

Most of the time people keep giving chances to someone with a history of dishonesty because they get something out of it too: maybe they value the friendship so high that they think it’s an unpleasant tradeoff, but still worth it. Maybe they’re scared of being on their own. Maybe they think that the other person has done so much good for them that it evens out.

Whatever your reason is for enabling someone to keep lying to you, it’s better to be self-aware and know what you’re doing than to make yourself believe that this person will now be trustworthy. Maybe this person is indeed important enough and should stay in your life, even though they’re dishonest. You can keep them in your life should you decide to do so, but see them for who they really are and don’t misplace your trust into them.

Avoid gossipers and rumormongers

Talking with others about other people and sharing secrets is actually a way of bonding socially, and always has been in human history. However, it’s one of the lowliest ways of doing so, it’s the McDonalds of burgers.

If a person spreads rumors or shares personal details of other people with friends, that actually reveals a lot more about their own character than about the people they talk about.

More importantly, if they’re talking with you about others behind their back, they’ll probably talk about you behind your back to others too.

Listen to your inner voice

This might be the most important part of the entire article: We all have an inner voice that talks to us. An intuitive sense for truth that helps us to keep things real. An internal source of deep knowledge and wisdom that can guide us when we need guidance.

Listen to that inner voice. Stay true to yourself. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds—sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the inner voice of wisdom from the crazy talk your head might come up with, but the more mindful you are, the more you’ll learn to distinguish the two from each other. Even within yourself, you’ve got to be careful who you trust, because you’re made from different parts.

Honor your own truth

I personally found that the best way to get better at listening to that inner voice is to actually be more truthful myself, to honor truth more. To speak the truth more boldly even when it’s difficult, and to be more intentional about recognizing the truth in the first place.

It’s the little stories we tell ourselves to make life a bit easier that remove us from our own truth, and the farther we get removed from our own truth, the more difficult it becomes to recognize when someone is being deceptive towards us.

The more you are a person of integrity yourself, the more you will recognize integrity in others.

What if your trust really got abused? What if you truly misplaced your trust?

Let me tell you a story:

Frank and Michael were best friends since childhood. They did everything together, from playing tag in the backyard to taking long bike rides around their neighborhood. They were like two peas in a pod and the friendship between them was unbreakable.

One day, Frank confided in Michael about a personal family matter. He shared something very intimate and private with Michael, and he expected his friend to keep it a secret.

But, unfortunately, Michael wasn’t as loyal as Frank thought. The next day, Frank heard from another friend that Michael had spread the news about Frank’s family situation. Frank was devastated and felt betrayed by his best friend, and their friendship was at risk.

Frank confronted Michael about it, and Michael immediately apologized and tried to explain what had happened. He said that he had been talking to someone who Frank didn’t know, and he had accidentally let slip the information in conversation. Frank accepted Michael’s apology, and they both agreed to start fresh and rebuild their friendship. They talked through things and agreed to be more mindful of each other’s trust and loyalty. In the end, Frank and Michael’s friendship was stronger than ever.

That’s one way how this could go: 2 friends, strong trust bond. Friend shares secret, other friend betrays his trust. They have a difficult conversation and can figure it out.

Another way how this could play out: Frank confronts Michael, they talk it out… but Michael does the same thing again, and again, and again. This of course would be painful, but ultimately it would be of value to Frank too: He’d learn that Michael wasn’t a reliable person. He’d learn that he’d have to change the way he assesses people. He’d learn that he’s got to get better at reading people, and understanding what makes them tick.

Rather than getting caught up in the emotional disappointment, the anger and hurt of being betrayed by a good friend—which will inevitably be part of this experience—he could eventually focus on what he can learn from this, and how he can be a better judge of character moving forward. In short, he can learn from his mistakes.

My little be careful who you trust poem

This was a long read, so let’s end things on a more lighthearted note. Here’s a little poem I penned on the subject of being careful who you trust:

Trust is so essential, so don't be a fool, 
Your life is more precious than the finest jewel.
Be wary of who you befriend and the people you choose, 
You don't want to be the victim of someone else's ruse. 

Don't be fooled by a nice face or a charming smile, 
You must be extra careful in finding who's worth your while. 
Though it may seem like you can trust anyone you meet, 
You mustn't be naive, and make sure you're discerning and discreet. 

So watch out for who you let in your life, 
You'll have a much better time if you're careful who you trust with strife. 
Be sure to discern and make sure to be wise, 
So you can stay safe and have a happy life.

Yes, it’s a terrible poem, but it rhymes, and the message is true. Do yourself a favor, and be careful who you trust—it’s one of the most important decisions you can make in life.





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