Trust and vulnerability

Trusting others is risky but the payoffs may be worth it

Two girls talking

Most people find it difficult to trust others. When it comes to trust,there are two basic philosophies:

  1. Trust everyone until they prove they’re not trustworthy
  2. Don’t trust anyone until they prove they’re trustworthy

In my opinion, the second philosophy is not about trust at all. It is about being safe. Because, by definition, the moment you need reasons, then you are not trusting, you are asking for proof, and thereby simply trying to hedge your risks. In contrast, genuine trust is an act of faith. Trusting means we are confident that the one we trust can do no wrong, because we’re sure of his/her intentions and integrity. This confidence is not a result of any past experience or other reasons but of an instinctive knowing that is not, usually, rational.

Trusting someone is inherently risky. When we trust someone, we know we are being vulnerable. Trust is most important in a love relationship. In his powerful book, Love and Survival, bestselling author Dr Dean Ornish writes, “When we express our feelings, we make ourselves more vulnerable”. This is because we’re taking the risk of letting the other person know our weak spots and risk being hurt. But, it is impossible to be in an intimate relationship without being vulnerable. So, the ability to take the risk of being hurt is the cornerstone of love and intimacy.

Willingness becomes the operative word here. It’s our willingness to take the risk of being hurt that allows us to be trusting. The advantages of trusting are that we form stronger bonds because the other person also feels it safer to be more vulnerable, and therefore more trusting of us.

If trusting others is risky, trusting the self is far more so. This is because when we trust ourselves we take the biggest risk – of taking responsibility of our lives in our own hands. Of course, we cannot trust ourselves till we love ourselves. We ought to love ourselves to be able to rely on our instincts and our intentions to guide us – and of being vulnerable to them. We can then trust ourselves enough to be confident of our feelings and emotions.

So, trust and vulnerability are risky. But then safety never had attractive payoffs.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


  1. Trust is the belief that you can predict a person’s behavior with an acceptable degree of confidence.

    1. Note that it is entirely possible to trust a person to stab in the back first chance he gets. The key is that you can confidently predict he will and take appropriate protective action. Then you can deal with a backstabber safely.

    2. If you would trust more, simply lower the degree of confidence that is acceptable to you. If you decide it doesn’t matter to you if people don’t live up to your predictions, then you can trust anyone fully.

    3. Predictions are generally based upon patterns perceived in past behavior. Therefore they are inevitably proven wrong. The conditions under which past behavior was observed no longer exist. Base predictions upon mindful awareness of the conditions under which the trusted person NOW exists.


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