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May 17, 2018

Why greater Trust can have a positive impact on our Health and Happiness

Last month we highlighted the positive impact of reducing expectations you set for yourself and for others along with increasing your levels of self - acceptance. We proposed that doing this could offer you one way to reduce feelings of pressure and perceived stress, which you might be experiencing at certain stages of your life.

This month we would like to introduce another self help reflection topic and that is : Trust.

Evidence emerging from trust research provides interesting insights into the fact that besides being a quite complex subject it is also a multidimensional one.

What we mean by that is that the degree to which we trust ourselves, others and situations we are confronted with, can relate not to one but several dimensions :

a) a combination of our personality and unique life experiences

b) our perception of the trustworthiness of the ‘ other’

c) the degree of perceived ‘risk’ involved if we go ahead and trust the person(s) or situation

d) physiological processes

For example a recently completed research conducted over several years ( Zak et al 2017) showed that production of the neurological chemical oxytocin , which our body produces when bonding with others, is inhibited by high levels of stress. This means that the more stressed we feel the more our relationships and interactions with others might suffer. Since correlations between trust and higher levels of oxytocin have been demonstrated , there might be an argument, that the more stressed we are the more mistrustful we might tend to become.

In essence: more stress might affect the degree of trust we feel towards others and towards ourselves but trusting little or not at all can in itself become a stress factor.

If we consistently don’t trust ourselves enough and frequently doubt our own capacity we end up not feeling up to ‘the task most of the time’. Not feeling up for the task on a regular basis undermines our self confidence and resilience, hence makes us more vulnerable to ‘perceived stress’. To the same token, if we consistently do not trust others, we might end up with the ‘I better to it myself’ syndrome creating additional work for ourselves, delegating little, not asking for help and ultimately feeling isolated and overwhelmed...Therefore one thing seems apparent: if we do lack trust consistently across situations and towards people around us, we might be at risk of creating a more stress prone context for ourselves.We are then our own worst enemy in this vicious circle…At this point some might argue: is it not actually much more stressful to trust too much or trust the wrong people and then risking to being let down than trusting too little and at least feel more protected? Clearly moving to the other extreme of the ‘trust vs suspicion spectrum’ is not helpful either. As with most things finding the right balance is what we want to aim for. This requires some effort on our side - surely for the sake of improving our personal and emotional well-being and ultimately our happiness it might be worth it?

What if we would attempt to create just a slightly higher level of self-awareness so that we step out of whichever our own unique ‘automatic trust pilot mode’ is into consciousness? What if instead of believing that the person, colleague or team member at work who contradicts us or disagrees with us in public is simply wanting to put forward a different approach and is in actual fact not badly intentioned against us? What if our boss or our client asks us to take on a new work project, which we never did before and we feel pretty ill equipped for? Instead of feeling a slightly ‘familiar’ feeling emerging of lack of trust in our own ability, we could instead just for this one time decide to react differently and trust ourselves that we will instead be able to pull this off...What if for just one day we consciously try out something different ? For example: we could approach this new unknown project by asking ourselves what are we actually afraid of. Shifting from a perspective of ‘fear’ into one of curiosity, could make us feel surprisingly empowered and with a greater sense of perceived power and control comes less stress…Let’s consider it a game, called ‘Personal Trust Challenge’.

For just a moment or over the course of a day, we decide that no matter what difficulty is thrown at us, we will do our best to try and believe this might be a’good or a doable’ thing. 

In other words, we intentionally ‘let go’ for just a day of trying to ‘protect ourselves’ or to ‘control’ situations, which we find ourselves in that make us feel uncomfortable...

We instead simply choose to believe that despite our ‘usual tendency’ something good or at least nothing bad will come out of it...

About the Author

Natalie Schürmann is the founder of Badiliko, a consultancy, which offers collaborative, customised coaching and development solutions to promote leadership excellence, positivity, well-being and fulfilment.

Badiliko is a valuable learning partner and social entrepreneur for people and organisations across the world, nurturing authentic, balanced and purpose driven leadership for a more fulfilled workforce and a happier world.

The Badiliko team cares about your needs and is here to help you answer your questions. Think there’s something we missed? Let us know by email , or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

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