I have been amazed at the difference trust has made to my life, and what it can effect in others around me. For most of my life I have lived – without realising it – from the assumption that the world is an unfriendly place; help, empathy and confidence can’t be relied on.
I didn’t realise that this also meant something about how I viewed myself and my capacity to cope. No confidence – or faith – in the outer world reflected my lack of faith in my inner resources. I hadn’t realised that one could make a choice to believe in the basic goodness of people, their intelligence, resourcefulness, creativity, ability to think things through and come to their own solutions.
When I came across this Positive Philophical Choice of the Thinking Enviroment™, I felt such a relief: someone believed in me, I didn’t have to prove I was worthy of thinking things through for myself. I found this hard to cultivate though, this new positive belief. I could think to myself, whilst listening to other people, ‘how capable you are, you’ll work it out’, but found it much harder when it came to my turn for thinking to believe in my right even to take someone’s listening time. I really had to work on this, with lots of compassion for myself, and I found the writings of Julian of Norwich, the medieval mystic, full as they are of compassion and the promise that all shall be well, invaluable in building this faith in myself.
Recently I experienced a new surge of doubt in my ability to think well for myself. It’s a truly terrifying feeling, not being able to trust one’s own judgment, like falling with no parachute. Ultimately it’s paralysing, leading to being unable to make choices or decisions, stuck, powerless to move forward, and for me thinking like this creates a downward mental spiral. Thinking this way also makes engaging with the world very difficult; it’s no position to try to effect some good from. Why would you try if you thought everyone is basically self-serving, mean to others and competitive?
So trust is something vital to being healthy and having a healthy society. It seems especially important in counteracting the culture of fear in which we live. Listening well, which means with trust and faith, to others, and oneself, is a profound act for positive change, and something we can all cultivate.