Today I have been thinking about how I decide who I will trust. Or distrust. The more I think about it, the more it becomes clear to me that in many ways, gaining my trust is a fairly lengthy process. On the surface I appear to be extremely warm, open, trusting. Like a Golden Retriever. Partially because I am not very capable of concealing my short-coming. I am often inclined to point them out…I could easily write a novel about self-depreciation. I will spare humanity for the moment. It’s not a very interesting topic. People around me often mistake my behavior for compliment-fishing, but that is not my motive. In an odd way, I try to put people at ease. Maybe to cut through the bullshit as well.
It comes to me that when I am evaluating how much I can trust someone, I tend to size-up how much I think that person has hurt in their lifetime. I take some kind of rapid, mental inventory of how likely I am to be hurt by them and if it seems to me that their suffering has been equal or greater than mine, I trust them. Unfortunately, this process backfires on a regular basis.
In fact, my method probably even works against me. There are other people like me, easily startled, panicky like a horse on the hot pavement in a 4th of July parade. In New York. Although a horse like this would probably never intentionally hurt someone, it could inadvertently step on some toes or knock someone down.
Then there are people who bite because they have had one too many kicks in the gut. Like stray dogs at the Humane Society. The sad stories of heartbreak and mistreatment they could tell far outweigh any that I have to drone on about. Yet they cannot be trusted fully, like with a newborn baby, for the very same reason that I would decide to trust them.
There are tons of people who puff themselves up in social situations, like silly roosters in a dusty chicken coop. I see through their feathery camouflage. For them, I trust that they have hurt so much that they are obliged to trip others on purpose in order to appear stronger. Superior. In a backwards sort of way, I trust this type of person because they are usually incredibly predictable. This gives me ample time to protect myself. To cover my face before the impending explosion. You can see it coming like a car accident.
I guess the bottom-line is, everyone is trustworthy sometimes. There is no reliable criteria for measuring how likely it is that someone will betray you in some way or another. The key is to trust your own instincts and go with what your heart tells you. Getting hurt always makes me learn and I have no regrets. Not many. Ok, maybe a few.