The T in CAST stands for Trust.
Trust is a big word. We use it a lot, to mean very different things. It is both a noun (to have trust) and a verb (to trust someone). From the Old Norse traust, it first appeared in the English language around 1200 and meant something equivalent to “help, confidence, protection, support.” (from the online etymology dictionary).
Trust is not only a big word, but it carries a big load. Without trust, we don’t have connection or love, a sense of safety or belonging. Trust is the cornerstone of our relationships with others, with the world in general and especially with ourselves.
The Trouble with Trust
We humans are constantly disappointing, betraying, hurting each other on micro and macro scales. We do it to ourselves, to others and others do it to us. At some point—whether you mean to or not—your behaviour, beliefs, feelings or attitudes will hurt someone else and you will be hurt by theirs. There is no getting around it—it is part of the human experience. If we are open to the lessons these hurts tell us, it is how we continue to grow into our higher selves.
The hard part about trusting is to do it anyways even knowing that pain is inevitable.
I am not talking about trusting blindly, or putting oneself in dangerous positions or trusting people who have not earned it. No. I am talking about trusting as an inextricable part of loving. If we are not trusting ourselves, the world, those around us, then we are not loving them. And loving is never free of hurt.
I like to use trusting and loving as verbs more than nouns. Trust and love give the impression that these are static states, objects that we can somehow acquire or shop for and place on our mantelpiece to dust off when company comes over. Trusting and loving, on the other hand, are practices we choose to do or not to do every second of the day. To continue trusting and loving in the face of hurt takes a daily commitment.
It’s no wonder many of us have trouble with trusting (and with loving, for that matter).
A Brief History of my Relationship with Trust
My relationship with trust took an almost-lethal hit when my dad died. I was eight, so didn’t fully understand what was going on. One day my world was safe, comfortable, known. The next, everything was topsy turvy—my father was gone, all adults were crying, and my mother wouldn’t get out of bed. The sense of trust I had in my world being a safe place evaporated.
That mistrust of the world led to my mistrusting myself (aided by societal norms that make sure most women feel insecure and inadequate), which meant I could never fully trust those around me.
But that didn’t mean I didn’t try. After all, part of the human condition is to want to feel safe and loved and like we belong. As trust is an essential ingredient in creating those conditions, it is probably what I longed for the most.
The closest I came to trusting was with J. My marriage provided a safe haven for me (at least I thought it did). I trusted J, trusted in our marriage. I felt like we had built something that could withstand big events like infidelity or death. I really trusted we could withstand anything if only we were together.
I don’t want to diminish the trusting I did in my marriage. I realize now that it was lopsided, missing the fundamental piece of trusting myself, but it was trusting. And it made me feel safe and secure, made me feel loved and connected enough to go out in the world and try my best.
Still, when J left, that trusting was gone and because I had not cultivated those other aspects of trust, I had a hard time letting go of the one thing I thought I could count on.
Letting Go Means Trusting You Will Survive the Fall
Because here’s the thing. To actually let go, you have to trust you’re not going to die. That if you let go of the person who represents your whole world and your place in it, you need to trust that you’re not going to disintegrate the moment you unclench your fist.
That is a big leap of faith. And it takes time. That’s where the rest of CAST comes in: compassion for yourself and the time it may take to loosen the fist of your heart clenched around the memory of your ex; practicing acceptance for a reality you cannot change; consciously shifting perspective from what was, to what you need to lead a fulfilling life and finally; trusting that you have everything you need already to make that life happen.
In some ways, I think I did disintegrate when my marriage ended. I just didn’t realize the disintegration part had a sequel. Like the mythical phoenix, I crumbled to dust and then knit my molecules back together in a configuration that allows for more loving, more trusting and ultimately more peace.
Trusting is a Daily Practice
For the last few years, I have been building my trust practice. I started small by consciously trying to shift my perception of time from one of scarcity to one of abundance (I wrote about it in this blog post). I practice trusting that everything will get done when it needs to be done, that if I take a day off from my usual routine to sit on the sofa and read a book, the busy police will not come knocking at my door to arrest me for undeserving leisure time. It has literally changed the way I move in the world. Everything still gets done, it just gets done without me feeling frantic and beating myself up about being lazy and unproductive.
I am moving on to a deeper understanding of what it means to trust myself. When I worry about making ends meet, or if I am a fuck-up as a parent or that when people read my writing they will want to unfriend me, or the big one—that J’s leaving is proof positive that I am indeed unlovable—I stop, take a deep breath and practice trusting. Trust that I have a right just like anybody to take up space in the world. Trust that I am doing my best and will continue to do so. Trust in myself to seize opportunities and work hard to get to a place where I want to be.
And the most important aspect of trusting, the one that had been missing from way before the divorce—trust in myself to do what’s right and to get through whatever curveballs are lobbed at me.
Trusting is a practice, an action verb. It requires a daily commitment.
How Do You Build Trust?
But how? How does one build trust? Is there a piece of equipment we can buy to exercise our trust muscles? Perhaps a trust boot camp we can register for? Alas no. But we always have the wonderful Brené Brown and her research. She gives a pretty thorough dissection of the word Trust, by using the acronym BRAVING:
Breaking it up like this helps me to identify the areas in my life where I am not being trustworthy, or am not trusting. Trust erodes when we are not clear about our boundaries or when someone explicitly breaches our boundaries. We are not being trustworthy if we are spilling other people’s secrets, or not being accountable for our actions. By breaking the large concept of Trust down to its component ingredients we can start to see concrete actions we can take to bolster trust in our relationship with ourselves and with others. It also is handy tool to use to talk to friends or family members where trusting has become an issue because one of these elements are missing.
Thus concludes my little primer on letting go. Compassion, Acceptance, Shifting perspective and Trust are not linear steps but ingredients working together to make it safe to pry my clenched fingers from my old life and give me the courage to walk into the unknown of my new one.
If you are experiencing the heartbreak of divorce or a break-up, know that it is okay to fall apart. Let yourself. Let all those old stories and ways of being fall away. Let yourself feel flayed alive, like someone just tore all your flesh from your bones, because that is what losing love feels like. Understand that it is going to hurt like hell.
Then patiently and with time, CAST yourself a new, more resilient skin, one that has trusting and loving yourself built in to every cell. I guarantee that the more you practice these elements for yourself, the more you will attract them in your life.