If there was one thing that got me into trouble more than anything else in my youth, it was that I was too trusting of others. Largely, I existed on a different wavelength than most of my peers, paying attention to things that others ignored or didn’t see or care about. I was fascinated by nature, absorbed in making art, and focused on being a good student.
It didn’t occur to me that my peers had angles, machinations, and other motives. Like why would you actually WANT to hurt, make fun of, or take advantage of someone else? That just didn’t make any sense to me, and I would get tripped up again and again. I was book-smart yet world-naive, and felt like I needed these people to be my friends. I would not be surprised if many folks reading this right now also see their younger selves reflected in my words.
Later in my teens and early 20’s, I wised up somewhat – at least more generally. But that over-trusting younger self showed up again and again when I felt like I was finding new community – be that Bellydance or Witchcraft. I was being presented with the situation of being among “my people” – at least those who I perceived had similar values and ideas because we had something amazing in common. Again, I found myself stumbling into a world of hurt and anger – which I really only had myself to blame because I had believed those people to be someone they were not. It’s not that they lied about who they were or their intentions, but my idea of them got carried away with my enthusiasm to meet kindred souls.
That may sound like I’m beating up on myself, but no – this is the older me having a better perspective about things. The me that perhaps has learned a few things about people and trust. I actually trust people even more now, but in completely different ways.
As a culture, we have a tendency to view trust as an “all or nothing” venture. You either trust someone completely or you don’t, which is often how people try to leverage each other. But once again, such things are never so black and white. Trust defined is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Therefore trust is really another way of saying how much we understand someone or something.
Often in various traditions of Witchcraft (and popular media based on witchcraft), we hear the phrase “in perfect love and perfect trust” almost to the point of lip service. But what is perfect? All too often, our idea of perfect is something very static and often lofty – virtually unobtainable. But perfect can mean “precisely accurate; exact.” So perfect trust is more about saying, “I recognize who you are and who I am, exactly in this moment.” That we recognize the good, the bad, the subjective, objective, and the nuance in-between – and the flux of change. That we understand and accept responsibility for our own expectations and efforts right here, right now.
So when I say I trust people more now, I mean I see them more clearly for who they are, versus my ideas and fantasies about them. I can better discern their will and act accordingly. Like in the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog, I understand the nature of certain folks and thereby can better set my boundaries if needed. Without my view being clouded by preconceived notions and desires, it has become so much easier to see folks as they are in the moment. I’m not pre-loading potential changes or expectations, nor trying to get something fulfilled through or by someone else.
Which also says something about where I am on my path now versus back then. I have found wholeness within myself and the potential to change solely my responsibility to guide. More importantly, I trust myself first and foremost. I follow my intuition more fully to open my heart when I feel the right hum, and to use protection and caution when it’s necessary. In every perfect moment, which is ever-changing and fluid.
As Witches, the more we are able to recognize and respect ourselves and our power, the clearer our vision becomes. We can familiarize ourselves with a great variety of people, trusting them to be who they are, and trusting ourselves to act accordingly. Like how the night is broken by the light of day, “trusting” shifts from being laden with an impending sense of danger or possible harm, to drawing in closer that which you recognize and value within yourself.