A while ago, I allowed a man I had just met to put me in a headlock!
Don't worry, he was a physiotherapist treating my neck. My friend's recommendation, combined with his very thorough assessment of me, earned him enough trust for me to permit a rather startling manoeuvre. It helped, I went back for more!
Trust in the good intentions of others gives a strong feeling of connection and well-being. If that trust disappears, every action can seem like a threat.
What supports trust? We gather a wide variety of evidence through observation or by hearing the experiences of others. When people say, 'How can I trust him/her? S/he doesn't tell me anything,' they mean there's no opportunity to gather the necessary evidence. It's a reminder that we can't read other people's minds, no matter how well we know them.
Groups used to do physical 'trust exercises', falling backwards into the arms of another person or passively allowing ourselves to be passed around a circle. Not surprisingly, since we are a holistic organism rather than a 'mind' in a 'body', developing physical trust does have mental and emotional benefits, improving self-confidence and the sense that others are trustworthy.
Deciding that I am trustworthy also brings a positive outcome. When I trust my own resilience, I can be quite vulnerable with someone who will listen deeply to me. Trusting myself also requires evidence such as previous experiences of emotional strength or good decision-making, knowing that my 'gut-feeling' is sound.
And I can make myself trustworthy to others by behaving in a consistent manner, keeping confidences and resisting the temptation to gossip. If it becomes clear that I am guided by ethics and values which the other shares, trust grows.
In connecting with others there's always some leap of faith to be made and it is trust that bridges the gap. In an increasingly untrusting world, the will to trust is a great gift and one which makes human connection possible. If there is occasionally a calculated risk involved, the value of the reward is far greater.