Trust vs. Vulnerability

[Photo source: http://managingcollections.blogspot.com/2008/07/fragile-objects.html]

[Photo source: http://managingcollections.blogspot.com/2008/07/fragile-objects.html]

My default mode is to trust people. I tend to think the best of people and to believe they are who they claim to be. I like living my life this way and want to keep doing it.

In the past few years, though, I feel like I’ve been overly trusting. Not protecting myself enough. Part of this is my habit of being too revealing of my thoughts and emotions. I talk to people about my hopes, my dreams, my plans, my misgivings, my desires. Sometimes these same folks then talk to other people, and I find my confidences coming back to me in the form of recriminations or gossip.

As a result, I’ve been slowly shrinking the circle of people in whom I confide. It’s a small enough group now that we could all fit comfortably in a car together. These people have become precious to me as a result. I need – absolutely need – people in my life with whom I can talk about the things that matter most. People who get my story, who know how I work, who understand the way I talk and act and feel. Without them, I descend into an inner monologue that’s unhealthy and limiting.

I was unpleasantly surprised recently to learn just how few people I really do trust. Even some to whom I’ve told my deepest, most intimate stories have then passed them on to others. Is anything more disappointing than learning that those you love and depend on don’t place the same value on the situation?

I wonder if there are people who I’ve disappointed in this same way. I hope not, but I expect so. I love to gossip. It’s the thing I work hardest on changing about myself. Every version of the Buddhist precepts, which are guidelines for living an awakened life, mentions wrong or false speech. The Buddha understood that loose lips sink ships, so to speak. Gossip weakens communities, strains friendships, and makes it more difficult for all of us to engage with one another without fear and suspicion. I’m trying hard to eliminate unskillful speech. It ain’t easy.

This is tough territory to navigate. How do I keep an open heart but also take care of myself? How do I build community without leaving myself too vulnerable? Is “too vulnerable” even a danger?

Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments on this topic. Oh, and here’s “Trust” by Prince from the one true Batman film:

BATMAN 1989 VS PRINCE TRUST from Denis Gilbert on Vimeo.

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3 Responses to Trust vs. Vulnerability

  1. Becky says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing, Jason. Doing so was (is!) very much an act of vulnerability. I think that’s great. This is tricky stuff, for sure. I suspect you and I operate from a similar place on this topic. To me, trust is not earned; it is freely and abundantly given. And when that gift is abused, it stings like hell. Heres a list of things that help me navigate: 1) don’t say anything about someone I’m not prepared to defend, especially to them. (This is not the same as “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” cause sometimes there’s un-nice stuff worth saying.) 2) what others think about me is none of my business. 3) Even though vulnerability can be uncomfortable, speak my truth when the time feels appropriate. The right people will be drawn to me over the long-term for doing so. And some of them will feel empowered to let their guard down and reveal their authentic selves as well. 4) Its important to tell someone who violates my trust that what they did hurt me. They probably weren’t counting on being called out. And maybe they didn’t even consider it was wrong. Growth comes from challenge. Or they’ll tell me to fuck off, and we can call it a day on our relationship.

    Stay true. Stay vulnerable. It doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt or feel betrayed, but it will mean you can always be authentically You.

  2. Jason Crane says:

    Thanks, Becky. I appreciate your thoughtful comments (and you) very much.

  3. Taneen says:

    Jason, I think one of your most endearing qualities is your willingness to be open and vulnerable. Very few people know how to be bare and those that can share freely what they think and feel often make others uncomfortable. We have been socialized to put on a happy face, put your best foot forward, etc which many of us mistake for putting on a mask instead of being brave enough to show our true selves.
    It has been many years since we’ve had a face to face conversation but I feel honoured to know you through the experiences, stories, photos, and snippets you have shared. And because you’ve been open, I’m pretty sure we could grab an anmitsu and macha and catch up quickly 🙂

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